I broke a promise...

Jerry's Take

I broke a promise. It hurts worse than anything I ever imagined.

And I need to turn to you for help.

You see, seventeen years ago I made a promise to a starving horse that the police had given me – that I will do everything I can to help those like him. I will feed, medicate, comfort and find a new home for those who come through our gates.

It never made sense to go through the entire legal process of removing a horse from an abusive, neglectful owner, only to send it off to the auction house to be bought by the meat man, but that’s exactly what was happening back then. According to the law, a horse saved from neglect must either be euthanized, sold at auction or given to a nonprofit shelter. Seventeen years ago, there were no nonprofit shelters for horses.

So the cops saved them from death and turned them over to the meat man.

That’s what I abhorred, and that’s why I started Habitat for Horses – to offer law enforcement an alternative. “We’ll do the work,” I told law enforcement. “We will investigate, transport, do the medical, go to court and present the case. In return, all I ask is that we get the horse instead of sending it off to slaughter.”

And it worked. We’ve traveled far and wide to assist law enforcement. Our doors stayed open to horses taken by the courts and, as a result, well over 5,000 horses and burros have passed through our hands.

That was my promise – “We’ll be here for you.”

Because I knew our supporters believed in our work. You opened your hearts and felt what we felt, and you gave us the financial support to continue.

It worked… until last week… and I was forced to break my promise.

With 200 horses and donkeys under our care, you can imagine the amount of expense we have – the hay, the feed, the medical – and the amount of land that’s required. We have 200 acres just for grazing, all but thirty leased. We bale hay on another 500 acres and store it for winter – just enough to make it until the first cutting next spring.

It was working until…

“We sold the land to a housing development company,” said the voice on the phone. “You need to have the horses moved in five days.”

100 acres of grazing land taken away. Doubling up the number of horse on the last 100 acre grazing lease.

Doubling the need for winter hay.

But the worst part of all…

A promise made to a Sheriff’s Office in a county three hours away – we can’t take the three horses we promised we’d take. We seriously have no room.

And three skinny horses will be going to auction, horses no one will want… except for the killer-buyer.

I’m heartbroken, and I have no problems admitting it – I cried. I never want to be in this position again.

We must find more land, purchased or with long-term leases. That’s why we set up the “Greener Pastures Land Fund”.

If we are to continue to be here for law enforcement, if we are to stand beside those starved and beaten horses and donkeys and offer them sanctuary, then I need your financial help.

$20 from one of you, $100 from another, it adds up. All of us, working together, joining hands, making a financial commitment to what we believe in, that’s what Habitat for Horses has always been about.

And it’s never been more serious and more needed than it is right now.

I want to call that Sheriff’s Office and tell them our doors are open again. I want to see the eyes of those skinny, starved horses when they step off the trailer and walk, not into an auction house, but into the loving arms of our volunteers.

I want to keep my promise, not just for now but forever.

“We are here for you. Here is food, water, shelter and, most of all, here is love. You are safe.”

Please, be a part of what we do. Help us keep our promise. It takes just a few moments. Donate. The horses need you.

POST DATE: 09/02/2014