Dr. Jennifer Williams, co-founder and President of the Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society in College Station, Texas, addressed the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners in Orlando, Florida this past December. Speaking on the rise of equine rescues, both large nonprofits and smaller mom-and-pop entities—Williams acknowledged that not every organization follows best practices for both the animals and the organization, which could lead to the failure of the organization.
The Horse reports that Williams explained that some of the reasons why these rescues fail is because:
- The leaders may have a limited working knowledge of how nonprofits operate and are managed
- The organization managers might be very passionate horse people, but have limited knowledge of equine care
- Managers may not have the ability to turn a horse away, even when money and resources may be tight
- Lack of funding
- Compassion fatigue and burnout
Williams also noted that there are characteristics of successful equine rescues, as well. These include:
- Practicing good husbandry, such as following the guidelines of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, including routine vaccinations, deworming and dental care. Facilities should be maintained and offer high-quality hay and grain, and fresh water. Illnesses and lamenesses should be treated and a euthanasia plan is in place if a horse cannot live pain-free
- Being transparent, including about nonprofit status, how the organization operates and contact information
- Encouraging continuing education, meaning rescue operators continue to learn from reputable sources, both animal welfare and training resources, among others
- Maintaining a realistic annual budget and fiscal responsibility, keeping expenses low. Other smart strategies include seeking to expand a donor base, having a savings fund and making sure more than one person had access to accounts
- Maintaining a good reputation within their community and among industry professionals (including vets, farriers, etc.) is a must
Read more about Willams' advice at The Horse.
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