Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Neglected horses flourish under loving touch

Brenda McArthur goes where animal welfare agencies won’t — into abusive situations to rescue neglected horses and nurse them back to health.
McArthur operates the Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue on her farm near Hagersville, south of Hamilton, because the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has no horse facilities and relies on volunteers to board and foster farm animals. But many still slip through the cracks.
Armed only with persuasion and persistence, McArthur talks neglectful owners into turning horses over to her, outbids “meat men” for them at auction and takes in horses that people are no longer able to care for.
McArthur and her husband, Dave Thompson, dig into their own pockets to cover the shortfall between donations and the cost of running a farm for equine refugees, about $70,000 over the last two years.
Why does she do it?
“I know it sounds corny, but they whisper to me,” says McArthur. “And because there’s nothing for horses.”
After the euthanization fiasco at the Newmarket OSPCA last spring, we wrote a column saying it was no surprise to us that the OSPCA had been laid bare, based on its negligible enforcement of laws at a Port Perry sheep farm we’d reported on.
Emails arrived from as far away as Thunder Bay about the OSPCA’s failure to enforce laws that apply to farm animals, while seemingly manipulating media to cover puppy mill busts, which tugs at heartstrings and brings in essential donations.
McArthur’s email said she was a former investigator for the Welland Humane Society, a member of its board of directors and was trained at the Newmarket OSPCA, which gave her a hands-on perspective.
“Horses and farm animals are not a priority for the OSPCA,” she said. “Working for the OSPCA and having nowhere to take horses showed me the need for something like this.”
She provided a stunning example: Norfolk County, the former heart of tobacco country on the north shore of Lake Erie, has no humane society or OSPCA investigator, only an animal control contractor who deals with dogs and cats.
We visited and found 42 horses stabled in tidy red barns and romping in paddock areas, which will soon be expanded, thanks to a $25,000 donation from the estate of a Toronto woman who died at age 102.
“Every horse has a story,” said McArthur, who recites the circumstances of their arrival.
Shiloh was emaciated and sick when she bought her for $180 at auction, and would have been fattened up and slaughtered for dog food, had McArthur not rescued her. She has since gained about 100 kilograms and likes to nuzzle visitors.
Thoroughbred race horse Getaway Candidate was rescued by its former owner in Detroit and brought to McArthur. He likes to roll around on his back.
Her most horrific case involved the rescue of 14 horses found in a field near Waterford, sick and starving, including a 29-year-old mare that had been deliberately bred. Several had to be put down, but she has nursed five back to health.
McArthur’s rescue operation is entirely dependent on public donations, which she says have picked up over the past two years, but still do not cover her costs.
Given that the province won’t properly fund the enforcement and investigative arms of the OSPCA and humane societies, it falls to caring people like McArthur to cover the shortfall.
Whispering Hearts is holding its annual fundraiser this Saturday at McArthur’s farm, at 1652 Concession 10, about five kilometres east of Hagersville. Visit their website at www.whhrescue.com.

*Taken from the Toronto Star

No comments:

Post a Comment