Riding to the rescue of horses
Adoption group keeps equines out of slaughterhouse
By Patty Machelor
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 12.31.2006
Early one morning just before Christmas, Polina Aukon ventured out in the cold at an East Side stables to wait for a large horse trailer to arrive from Canada.
On board was an 18-month-old colt she had picked out online, one of several offspring of Premarin mares that were at Canadian feedlots awaiting slaughter.
“I hadn’t planned to get another horse, but I think there was just something about him when I saw his picture on the Internet,” said Aukon, who already owns one horse. “I was really impressed with how he looked, his conformation, and I just thought if I can make it happen, at least one less horse will have to go slaughter.”
Aukon is one of several residents in Southern Arizona who have adopted horses through Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary. In all, 14 horses arrived at Rock Creek Ranch, 9181 E. Sellarole Road, on Dec. 21. Fifteen more were trucked here in November.
The rescue efforts of Equine Voices focus on saving mares and foals that are byproducts of the pharmaceutical industry’s manufacturing of Premarin and Prempro, female hormone-replacement drugs derived from pregnant mares’ urine.
Equine Voices’ founder, Karen Pomroy said they’ve rescued 155 horses from slaughter since she started the rescue program two years ago.
“We’ve only got 10 acres of land or we’d probably rescue more,” she said of her property, Jumpin’ Jack Ranch, between Green Valley and Tubac.
This fall, Equine Rescue was able to place all of the horses except five with new families before the horses’ arrival, which they hadn’t done before.
Pomroy said there are about 35 on her property right now and most are available for adoption.
“We do have a couple of older guys who probably need to stay at the sanctuary,” she said.
Adoption fees run $800-$1,500, she said. The money is used to purchase the next group of horses, she said, and covers transportation expenses and the cost of cross-border health certificates as well as purchasing the animal from the slaughterhouse.
Pomroy said 95 percent of the horses they’ve rescued come from the Premarin industry, for which thousands of the mares and their offspring are slaughtered each year. The meat is often sold overseas to Europe and Asia, where horse meat is a popular delicacy, Pomroy said.
Pomroy praised the efforts of adoption coordinator Audrey Caprio, who lined up many of this fall’s matches. “Really, it’s because of her that 29 were rescued recently,” Pomroy said.
Caprio said this is a critical part of the year for the Premarin horses.
“This is the rough time. This is when the Premarin mares go back to those lines and the farmers won’t keep those babies,” Caprio said.
Patty Villamana said she told her boarders at Wild Spirit Ranch about the Premarin horses after she decided she couldn’t rescue one herself right now.
“These are babies going to go to slaughter,” she said. “These guys deserve a chance. They really do.”
One of her boarders at the ranch at Sabino Canyon and Cloud roads looked at the available horses as Villamana had suggested and adopted three horses. Carol Tegethoff now has five horses.
Tegethoff said she has never worked with young horses before, especially ones that were kept in feedlots, and is pleasantly surprised at how receptive they are to human contact.
“I was so afraid these horses were going to be terrified of people, but they are so good-natured and laid-back,” she said.
To learn more:
For more information on Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary, or to find out about volunteer opportunities, call 398-2814, or go to equinevoices.org.
Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary is sponsoring a fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 3 at the Horse Haven Equestrian Center, 4885 S. Houghton Road. The event is free and includes live music by Andy Hersey, horse-related presentations, booths, silent and live auctions, raffle drawings, tack sales and food.
Contact Patty Machelor at email@example.com