The rescue made the considerate choice to have a 30 year old gelding we had named Relic put down today.
This decision was made with the support of the entire board of directors support, as always.
However, several volunteers did not agree and left the rescue as a result of the decision. They feel they wanted to try harder than we did, I suppose. They felt they knew more, better and cared deeper.
And if they did, I wish them the best of luck in future rescue ventures they undertake and DO hope they work harder, better and wiser than we. . .as the area surely need as much help as it can get.
While we never want to lose any volunteers, for the majority of the volunteer team, the decision was very much supported. We know that our judgment is respected by our supporters, and we appreciate that greatly. I expect many of you will think or type we have no need to defend or explain ourselves, but I am going to do it, just to make sure.
For the sake Heart of Phoenix, we cannot work successfully with division in the camp, either.
I hate that on the wave of such happiness in the last few weeks with some rescue successes, we have to weather such a crisis, but I do believe that this will simply make the rescue stronger, our mission more heartfelt and our team more united. That is the way it should work, is it not?
We are glad to have been able to have a solid leadership team able to make the right hard call when that is what was needed. I hate it when we are faced with this type of thing. I truly do. I certainly do not desire it, look forward to it or hope for it. Heavens. But I am not who puts the horses in the situations where we HAVE to do this. That is the making of another person. It is another person’s failing we pick up. Cover the cost of. Bear the sadness of.
If only rescue was all roses and tulips we might tip-toe through, right? Sigh. Not so much.
Very little in life is guaranteed and without risk. We believe to have waited on this choice would have been making the wrong decision for the horse. Period. It would have been WRONG to do so as far as I will ever see. We hated to wait an extra few days to get multiple vets to weigh in, but for the long term good of the rescue, that had to be done.
We stand by the choice. On that, there is no hesitation. Only the board of directors in this rescue can make this call, but we do not make it lightly. We expect the decisions we make be respected, even if one feels they would have done it different, if you’re a volunteer or supporter, and we regret that was not how this was received by a few.
We have only put down a small number of horses since 2009. A MINUTE fraction of those we saved, and given the situations all of those horses came from before we accepted them, they are still among the lucky in the nation, considering what would or could have happened to them otherwise.
We’ve hoped and tried and worked when many others would have given up, when others had already given up. We’ve accepted and rehabbed many a senior and very senior horse, as well. We certainly do not routinely put down aged horses. . .just ask Clover, Bettie, Snow, Alice, Mary and many others over 20 (some 30).
We’ve learned a great deal over the years. We’ve developed pretty solid gut instincts, for lack of better words. We have learned that our vet has given us sound advice every single time we’ve hoped and tried and lost the fight. We’ve learned that sometimes all of that hope just leads to misguided, bad choices that do not help the horses. In terms of starvation only, we’ve never lost a case.
But when horses have other issues contributing to what we see as a quality of life, each time we’ve waited and hoped when our vet’s recommendation was that the horse would not thrive, we’ve found our gut was never wrong and the advice has yet to have been wrong. We’ve also learned a great deal about seeing the BIG picture. We have to believe the gamble is sensible, kind and likely to lead to a happy ever after. No one has been through each of these events here except our board members. It is not really reasonable for others to dictate when they haven’t walked all these miles with us.
This poor guy was a body score of 1 with vet confirmed neurological issues with the spine/back end, as well as unrelated lameness in a hind leg, UNTREATED and FAR ADVANCED Cushing’s disease, no possible future of soundness, dental issues that were extensive which, even when floated, would require a mash diet only. Still, the fact he was totally emaciated played only role in this decision.
To accept a very aged horse at the brink of what we know is bad winter coming, to know what the winter ahead would be like for a horse at this age, weight and with the issues he had,. . .We WOULD NEVER have felt anything besides a peaceful ending could be humane. We made the decision after consulting with 3 vets from 2 practices. It is never a flippant choice. As I write it, I know a handful will chime in with: “Oh, I’d have saved him! I’d have done ‘this, this and this,”’ and if you ever run across such a case and are able to, document it, send it to me and I’ll share the Good News story. BUT We could not see the kindness in anything other than the path we walked with him today.
We have never led anyone to believe we would act otherwise than we did in this situation. It goes against our mission. This is not a sanctuary where we limp horses along that will never live what WE see as a high quality of life because we are unable to make the right call. Horses do not dream of tomorrow – they live in the here and now. They learn to adapt and can appear, to those not really considering the whole story, to be almost normal. . .as they have learned to accept their lot and can do little else. We are expected to listen closer, to know better.
I believe we do. I believe most of you think we do, as well.
I know we have built a credible organization, one that you trust is working with the best interests of the masses of horses being neglected in this area. So my trust in you folks has me put this out there, so you can see that along with bringing in 3 more horses in need this week, along with rehabbed so many others, along with moving them here and there and working a fundraiser lasting 12 hours a day event for the next 4 days. . .we also weather this and expect we will still be saving horses next week, next month and next year.
We aren’t perfect, folks, but we surely have the best of intentions.
If you need me, I’ll be over here washing Rainbows, as one of our long time volunteers says.