With more and more horses and donkeys rescued from abuse and neglect situations, or surrendered when their owners can no longer care for them, the pastures at Alaqua Animal Refuge are filled to capacity and the organization is reaching out to area residents willing to serve as foster families.
The equines housed at the Freeport farm are as varied as the circumstances that heralded their arrival, the physical characteristics of each as unique as their personalities and previous lives. For example, a 25-year-old Quarter horse mix named Coda was once ridden for Western pleasure, but later surrendered by his owner. Previously in poor health, and with dental issues that prevented him from eating, the tawny senior is being nursed back to health and is now on the mend.
Then there’s Midnight, a pony mix who was among several rescued from a neglect situation; Samara, a “sweet and gentle” Arabian/pony mix whose small size makes her an ideal fit for a family with children; and Schryder, a Quarter horse mix described as a “sweet old boy” who’s retired and “looking for a nice pasture.”
Whether the cruelty is deliberate or results from negligence, Alaqua aims to shelter and care for as many horses, dogs, cats and other animals as its 10-acre capacity allows. The more equines that are taken into foster care, the more space and resources can be devoted to other animals in dire need of help, said Laurie Hood, Alaqua’s founder and president.
No national reporting system exists solely for animal abuse cases, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which advocates on behalf of animals. But the number of horses owned around the country has significantly increased in recent years, with backyard breeding fueling the boom in pet horses. That’s despite that more than one-third of horse owners have a household income of less than $50,000.
Hood estimates the cost to care for a single horse, including veterinary care, hay and feed, at $250 per month. The private nonprofit is entirely dependent on donations, and to help free up funding to care for other animals, Alaqua is searching for responsible families willing to foster one or more horses and cover the cost of their daily needs, as well as donations of hay, feed and other supplies.
Visit alaquanimalrefuge.org to make a general donation. Or sign up as a foster family at 880-6399 or email info@AlaquaAnimalRefuge.org.