Alternate title: Be Careful Where You Donate!

*The horse in the featured image went through a well run non-profit years ago and is not available for adoption (Sorry!  I know he’s cute).

I’ve been involved in Thoroughbred aftercare for over a decade now.  First as a volunteer at a rescue, then an employee at a rescue, then as an employee of a race track…an now some mixture of all that.  It’s complicated…but needless to say I’m involved in much of the process and have regular contact with many different rescue groups.  I have helped hundreds of horses at this point.  I don’t keep count.  I have seen it all: from the heart-warmingly awesome…to the most disgusting you can imagine.  And no…I’m not just talking about the race track connections.  Rescues play a big part too on how these stories turn out.

I have seen good rescues and bad rescues.  Some of the bad ones have even been 501c3.  Unfortunately just having that designation doesn’t mean that the organization you’re supporting is a good one.  At best a rescue can provide a full and happy retirement life for a horse (there aren’t many of those out there) or give the horse the best care and retraining they can and send them off in hopes they find a happy life with well researched adopters.   At worst a rescue can horde and starve horses, regularly “euthanize” horses to reduce stock, or “adopt” horses out without doing their homework (or keeping adoption records) and horses can end up in VERY bad places very fast.

Recently I encountered a really bad rescue.  Out of negligence and lack of education…or malevolence…they did not do their due diligence for horses in their care.  Due to the ongoing situation and not understanding the full circumstances at present…I am not going to name that rescue.

However, I’m here to warn you…be careful who you donate to (or even more…give your horse to!).  As we come up on a season filled with charity and heart…make sure you do your due diligence before donating.  Lots of sins can be hidden behind pretty words and pretty pictures (or pleas for help and really bad photos of starving horses if that’s what triggers you).  If you don’t personally know how the rescue is run (or don’t have a SOLID recommendation from someone that has been on site), it might be best to keep your money in your pocket.  Or send your money to an organization that is highly monitored and nationally recognized.  Give money to the TAA, the TCA or CARMA…or the Retired Racehorse Project (or a rescue for your breed of choice that is obviously legitimate).  The TAA has a list of accredited organizations that are inspected and are a pretty safe bet (if they’re actually currently accredited…so don’t go by old badges…go by the list on the TAA site).  If you want to donate to any particular rescue in California, you can always reach out to me if you want an opinion on if they are legit or not.

I have no doubt that the problem also exists in non-profits for all kinds of animals as well…so don’t think you’re safe giving to some dog rescue either.

Another note, just because a rescue has a huge (and active) social media following also doesn’t indicate your money is being spent well…in fact…the more flamboyant and aggressive fund raising a rescue is doing…usually the more risk there is there’s something going on behind scenes that isn’t so pretty.  We should have learned that lesson already…but I notice this keeps happening!

Anyways…just a warning for your heart and your pocket book this holiday season.  Make sure you know where your donated money is going and what it is supporting!