Why I Rescue
by Dr. Jennifer L. Williams, Lone Star Equine Rescue

I think that each person who does rescue work has animals who touch them deeply - those animals whose stories are burned into the mind and possibly onto the heart and the soul of the rescuer. While I don’t think I’ll ever forget any horse, donkey, or mule who has come into Lone Star Equine Rescue, Inc. (LSER), there are some animals who did not come into LSER who I know I’ll never forget. These animals drive me and my desire to do rescue. These animals are the reason that even though there are days I want to throw in the towel, even though there are days I wish I had never heard the word rescue, I won’t quit.

The first who touched me deeply was named Flight. He was a five year old, dappled grey Arabian gelding owned by a woman I worked for briefly. Flight was a gorgeous horse, and at one time the owner had said I could work off his purchase price. Unfortunately, the owner was not able to care for any of her animals and was evicted from the land she was living on. I asked to take Flight, but she would not let me. Instead, she moved to another town. A year later, we found out that Flight had developed a treatable respiratory infection. However, instead of treating him, his owner killed him herself by injecting a lethal dose of phenylbarbitol and left his body lying in front of the trailer he was living in.

When law enforcement discovered Flight’s body, they seized the owner’s other horses as well as her dogs. They were being held by the county when I found out what had happened to Flight. I was not involved in rescue at the time, but I wanted to help these animals who I knew and had loved. That’s when I discovered that equine rescues could be awarded seized, neglected, and abandoned horses, and I knew I had to become involved with rescue. Because there were no rescues I could become involved in, I ended up founding LSER along with others who recognized the need for a well-organized rescue in Texas.

While Flight was the first horse whose story was engraved in my mind and heart, he will not be the last. The second horse whose story I will never forget is a nameless mare from west Texas. I had been doing rescue for a little over a year when a neglect call came in. A woman vacationing in west Texas had gone to look at some colts advertised for sale in the local paper. When she got there, she was appalled. There was a mare lying on the ground in the hot Texas sun. She refused to get up, and her foal was forced to bend over to nurse from her as she was lying there in the dirt. When the woman asked the owners about the mare, the owners replied that she was dying and not worth saving. The woman reported the mare to us and gave us the owner’s name. One of our new volunteers called the owner to see if they would surrender the mare to us. They couldn’t decide, but they did ask if we would come get her after she died. When our volunteer asked how the mare was, they didn’t know. Although it was late afternoon, they hadn’t bothered to look outside all day. At that point, the mare had been lying in the sun without water for days – waiting to die. When law enforcement arrived, the mare was dead. They refused to press charges because they said the mare died from ‘natural causes’. I don’t know if she ever had a name – but I know I’ll never forget her.

Now I find that there’s a third animal whose story is engraved in my mind. This time it is a donkey jack who makes me cry, a nameless donkey jack who I will never forget. I met him not even a week ago now when we were seizing a large number of animals. We actually thought we had all the animals loaded up, and after six or seven hours out in the sun, we were ready to go home. One of the volunteers looked over in the trees and saw one more donkey. At first, exhaustion took over and I could not imagine rounding up another donkey. Then determination kicked in and the volunteers set off to catch one more animal. He was not hard to catch, though, and we soon saw why. His genitals were swollen and dripping blood. He was in too much pain to run. When we got him to a safe, holding place, he was unloaded into a pen with food and water. However, he did not eat nor drink – he stood there with his tongue hanging out of his mouth while we petted him and told him we loved him. We thought we would lose this brave little donkey, and the thought was heart-wrenching. A day later, the news was better – he had seen a vet and received medication to reduce the swelling. However, further evaluation a few days later found that his tongue had been almost cut off and stitched badly – clearly not be a veterinarian. His tongue was swollen and infected, and his pain was unbearable. His caretakers had to let him go.

Why are these three engraved upon my memory and my heart above others? Human greed and human insensitivity caused their pain and their suffering. Flight died because his owner refused to treat his disease. The nameless mare’s soul purpose in life was to produce babies for her owner, and when she became ill, their greed and insensitivity saw that she did not get the treatment she deserved. The donkey jack suffered because his owner would not provide the care he needed and because she would not let him go to a home where he could. My only consolation for the donkey jack is that he was loved dearly by many people his last few days. I wish we could have done as much for Flight and for the nameless mare from west Texas.

If you wonder why I do this sometimes thankless job of rescuing it is because I want there to be no more Flights, no more nameless mares, so more suffering jacks. I want to see those animals to safety – I want to be their voice when they have none. Their memories will live on in me and in what I do. Because of them, hundreds of other horses, donkeys, and mules will be saved and will know love. I just wish none of them ever had to suffer.

Currently LSER has been very active in taking in several seized animals, and we have also taken in donated horses whose owners can no longer keep them. Since we work through a network of foster homes, our ability to help horses is limited by the number of foster homes we have available. We’re almost at full capacity and are badly in need of additional foster homes. Please consider opening up your farm, ranch or stable, and becoming a foster home and help us help them. If you cannot foster, consider becoming a member and helping with trailering, checking out prospective foster and adoptive homes…there are so many ways to help us help the horses and ponies in need. You can also consider donating to our Extra Care Fund (for medical procedures), Facility Fund (to help us eventually have a rescue facility), Sponsorship Fund (to help care for the horses), or our general fund. Please visit us, or call us at (979) 776 9396, or email.

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