Monday, March 23, 2015


I was reflecting today on how it is River came to be with us here at BFF, and little by little I am piecing together the story of her rescue.  I had a nice conversation recently with Marlene Dodge of Valley View Ranch who, along with Shirley Puga of National Equine Resource Network, was instrumental in getting River out of the Fallon Kill Pens.  Remember, this is what River looked like when she was taken to Safe Haven Horse Rescue in February of 2014 -

It was a huge undertaking to save her, along with  about 18 other horses, from certain slaughter.  Marlene told me that one of the recipients of some of the rescued horses was another organization in southern California called Red Bucket Equine Rescue.  Here is a story that is on their web site about the rescue.........

We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who supported the rescue of the 13 malnourished pregnant mares, 2 fillies, 1 colt, 2 draft cross geldings…and one extra very lucky gelding. In particular, we are humbled and grateful beyond our ability to express, for the extraordinary and selfless acts of our dear friends Shirley Puga and Marlene Dodge. Shirley and Marlene have given their lives to save the lives of desperate, slaughter bound, and abused horses. Combined these heroic rescuers have saved thousands of horses….and they both have worked selflessly in partnering with us to save the 19 slaughter bound horses. On behalf of Red Bucket, and the thousands of horses saved….and the tens of thousands who await help, thank you Shirley and Marlene.
February 19, 2014 (Chino Hills, CA) – Red Bucket Equine Rescue in Chino Hills, led by Susan Peirce joined forces with Shirley Puga of NERN in Encinitas, and Marlene Dodge of Valley View Rescue in King City to rescue 13 pregnant malnourished mares, 3 geldings, 2 fillies and 1 colt from the Fallon auction in Nevada, known for selling horses by the pound to kill buyers for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.
Alerted to this auction by concerned supporters, Red Bucket successfully raised the money necessary from donations around the country to save the horses from slaughter including funds to pay for coggins, health certificates, brand inspection and transportation. This Coalition of rescuers executed this enormous rescue effort in only 26 hours. Peirce, Dodge and Puga committed to making sure that all of the horses would be saved and used their personal finances prior to the successful fundraising.
Every year, approximately 130,000 American horses are sent to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico under horrific conditions and their meat is then shipped overseas for human consumption. The slaughter of pregnant mares is especially barbaric as the foals are cut out and thrown in the “trash pile”. 92.3% of all horses going to slaughter are healthy, sound and trained horses.
“Most people do not know that this kind of atrocity exists, where healthy horses and very pregnant mares are being sold for slaughter,” said Peirce. “I am proud that Red Bucket was able to take a leadership role in such a positive outcome. Shirley Puga and Marlene Dodge are competent and selfless rescuers and I am grateful to be able to partner with two remarkable forces of nature.”
The geldings and colt have already been relocated to a private facility. The pregnant mares and fillies are being delivered to California rescues this week. The rescues joining in are: Red Bucket Equine Rescue in Chino Hills, Mea Ola’s Place in Phelan (501(c)3 pending), Heavenly Horse Haven in Anza, and Villa Chardonnay in Temecula, Safe Haven Horse Rescue in Cottonwood, Oakdale Equine Rescue in Oakdale, and All About Equine Animal Rescue in El Dorado Hills.

I could go on and on about how horrible all of this is - and it truly is - and also about how important these rescue organizations are.  I won't do that here, not now, you can all "google" what goes on that we sometimes choose to ignore in the equine world.  My concern now is River, and understanding who she is because of where she came from.   Marlene told me that most likely what led to this group of horses ending up in the pens was simply a breeder culling his herd - apparently it's not an uncommon practice amongst larger breeders.  They pasture breed their horses and leave the mares and foals out in pasture - obviously sometimes starving them.  River was in a group with her mother, a 20+ year old mare who was pregnant, starving and looked like she was still nursing someone.  When they get to the pens they are all separated to meet their fates. 

All of this makes me even more amazed that our sweet River is not only here with us now, but that she came through all those horrifying times in her life and still has an open heart, an open mind, and loves all the people around her.  Because of this, we love her even more.  

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