What's Real, What's Not?
The word "rescue" evokes strong emotion in most animal lovers. The concept satisfies a very real human desire to help unfortunate critters. It is a noble word but it's been bastardized by the con artists of the animal world.
Let's look at small animal rescue first. It's lovely to hear someone say they've adopted their pet from a humane society or animal sanctuary. In the world of dogs and cats, individuals or groups that identify themselves as rescues have multiplied over the past few decades almost as quickly as a feral cat has kittens. Some are conscientious, ethical and committed to placing their charges in appropriate homes. Some are 501(c)3 designated as not-for-profit, some are inspected by USDA agents, some are exemplary small outfits run by just a few dedicated individuals.
Some are animal hoarders.
Some small animal "rescues" misrepresent themselves to obtain desirable pets, then immediately sell them for a profit. They don't care about the animals or the adopting families. Us good guys refer to them as "pet flippers." They lurk on Internet sites (Craigslist being a favorite), watching for free or inexpensive animals that need to be rehomed. They invent stories about themselves to entice the animals into their possession, then invent all kinds of fiction about the animals and sell them to buyers fooled by the label of "rescue."
Not surprisingly, the same pattern has emerged with horses. Shoppers are turning their attention to equine rescues in their search for suitable riding horses, but anyone can hang out a "rescue" shingle and we've been conditioned not to question.
There are many bona-fide horse sanctuaries and rescue organizations that provide necessary medical treatment and training for their horses. When they interview prospective horse adopters, they not only take the time to determine what the adopter wants and needs, but also provide detailed information about each adoptable horse.
Unfortunately, there are "horse flippers" out there, too. They scan ads for underpriced horses, naive sellers, and hard-luck stories. They offer to take horses under the guise of being a rescue or therapeutic riding school, then profit by lying to buyers about every detail of the horses they sell.
The foulest of all are the horse traders who call themselves rescues but instead collect horses for slaughter. They are usually located in remote rural areas (inconvenient to visitors), will pick up retired or unwanted horses, and drive to killer auctions many miles away to sell their cargo.
Dishonest horse traders are well aware of the marketing value of the word "rescue." They employ all the usual tricks, and hide behind the implied altruism of their disguise.
Be smart. Be ready and willing to do a little investigative work if you are looking at a rescue horse. Contact your nearest humane organization for information. Use the Internet. Talk to local equine vets. If you see something scary at the facility, report it to your local sheriff's office, animal control division, humane society, or police department. A good horse sanctuary or rescue will ask you lots of questions; be prepared to do the same.
Read Rags in Rescue here
Read Lyric's Story here
Read Non-Profit for Buyer, Anyway here
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