It’s one thing for local animal control to take in dogs, cats, even a rabbit. But horses are large animals that not only take up space, but have a lot of needs that are often beyond what a shelter can provide. And finding just the right home for a rescue horse can take a lot of work and time. Clark County Executive Horse Council (CCEHC) saw and filled a need in our area with the creation of the Adopt-A-Horse Program, which helps horses that have been relinquished to Clark County Animal Control.
The CCEHC is a nonprofit organization that has been operating in Clark County since 1984. Businesses, equestrians, organizations and professionals in the horse industry make up the members. They are a voice for the equestrian community and promote a positive image for equestrians throughout the county. Over the years they have worked on many projects including riding trails, the equestrian facilities at the Clark County Fairgrounds, scholarship funds, and more.
The Adopt-A-Horse program was created in 2007 by Pat Brown and Lori Harris. “Lori Harris and I started the program because our Animal Protection and Control of Clark County had nowhere to place horses that had been relinquished or needed to be seized, except at a local auction lot,” explains Pat.
But how best to help? Lori and Pat had a unique idea that would work, even with a lack of funding and no place to house the horses themselves. “We didn’t have the resources nor did we want to have a ‘rescue’ location,” she adds, “but what we did do is start a network of foster homes around the County, of people who were willing to care for these neglected and abandoned horses.”
Animal Control contacts Adopt-A-Horse before they take in a horse. “We try to take in all of them,” Pat explains. “If they are medically unsound, in chronic unresolvable pain, and unadoptable, we humanely euthanize. We don’t have resources to take in horses that have never been handled.”
Once the animal is in the care of the Adopt-A-Horse Program, Pat, Lori and their dedicated volunteers including Beth Courtney, adoption coordinator, and Keitra Curnutt, foster coordinator, the real work begins. Using funds raised through fundraises and by private donations, the team works to get the horse ready for a new life. This includes feed, veterinary treatment, farrier work, training, socialization, etc. Since they don’t have an outright rescue, they do have their limits. “We only work with animal control because we are a small organization and don’t have the resources to take in private relinquishments,” explains Pat.
The foster homes do the life-saving work at that point. “The ones we take in are placed in foster homes, people who open their hearts and homes to them, most are your normal everyday horse owners,” Pat explains. “We have had great opportunities with people who have also trained and been able to use their talents. We also pay trainers to evaluate and bring a horse who may not have been ridden for a while up to par.” While Adopt-A-Horse is set-up to cover 100 percent of the horse’s expenses while in foster care, Pam says many times these kind-hearted individuals will chip in their own money and pay for something like hay. Some even pay all the expenses.
Depending on the case, it can take a month to several years for a horse to be adopted.
Though most of the time the horses are victims of neglect or abuse, they have also received horses from owners passing away, abandonment, or a catastrophic event like a fire, loss of work, or loss of means for support, Pam says.
To try and help prevent the latter groups of people from having to relinquish a horse to animal control, the CCEHC also has Ripley’s Horse Aid. This program was originally created as a statewide program in Everett, Washington, but when the CEO retired, CCEHC decided to continue the program in Clark County. Ripley’s Horse Aid is a voucher program that provides short term assistance to horse owners that are temporary unable to provide for their horses, but will be able to again in the near future. Things like feed, farrier work, teeth flows, castration and euthanasia are provided.
How You Can Help a Rescue Horse in Clark County
You do not need to be a horse person to help a rescue horse! Monetary donations of any amount, or in-kind donations for their fundraiser auctions are always welcome. You can also volunteer at the fundraising events. And, if you are a horse person with some room to spare, consider fostering! You do not have to be at trainer to foster.
For more information, including currently available horses, visit the Adopt-A-Horse website.