Growing up on a farm surrounded by potential dangers like horses, farm equipment and an unruly rooster; EMERGENCY meant RED ALERT, take action: Danger Ahead, Duck, Run, Stop, Call 911, Grab Mane, Yell Loud, Something is Dying, Something is Loose, Something is Caught in the Fence, Something is hit by a car, Something is Attacking Something else….essentially something out of the ordinary is catastrophically wrong and requires immediate action…Preferably by someone who is not inclined to panic or have a low tolerance for blood and gore…
Today, I realized EMERGENCY in horse rescue is just another day as a rescuer. Today, I received a message “Call me ASAP” – “EMERGENCY” from a Equine Rescue Network (ERN) volunteer. My initial reaction was what could possibly be so catastrophically wrong?
I quickly returned the call to learn the EMERGENCY was hundreds of miles away. Mexico had run out of their inventory of horses for the slaughter plants, which meant that all the existing inventory of horses in Louisiana and Texas were shipping starting on Monday.
My initial reaction was “Is this really an EMERGENCY?” = horses are shipping and dying in Mexico? Seriously, that happens daily AND I experience this same sense of urgency for every horse that ships. When I see horses in a killpen, I am on RED ALERT. I know that it is a race against the trucks returning from Mexico.
Rescuers feel a Life-Saving-Emergency for EACH horse in the few days we work collaboratively to find funds and a home for that horse. We have a sense of panic in the days before the empty truck pulls up to the loading pen and that horse gets shuffled onto the truck along with 25 others. Once the doors are locked, the EMERGENCY is over for that horse. RIP, sorry humanity has failed you. And these rescuers start the panic process on the others that wait for the next load.
Sadly, Rescuers must swallow the feeling of urgency, panic and live in an altered state of RED ALERT. EMERGENCY is RESCUE whether it is cats, dogs, or horses.
Many people who follow horse rescue on social media don’t realize that the horses they see posted and shared are only a very small proportion of the horses on these lots. It is estimated that there are 3200 American horses this week waiting in killpens for their fatal ride to Mexico. For example, the Killpen in Bowie, TX and the Killpen in Bastrop, LA each have 300 horses (600 total) in small pens waiting to ship. We only see 20 – 40 very-lucky horses posted each week.
The only difference this week is that there will be more truck, more EMERGENCIES.