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Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary hasn't added a story.
Every rescue animal has a story. Most we will never know. All we can do is try and string it together bit by bit. Regardless of the few facts and missing pieces, they are the only ones who will ever know the real truth. They are the only ones who know of their lost families, friendships, peaceful existence (if they ever had one) and lastly - it being the final thing taken from them - the loss of hope.
Really, if one looks close enough, their story is not hard to see. All one has to do is look deep into the eyes of an animal.
When we first heard about two Morgan horses, who had somehow found themselves in a kill pen slaughter-bound for Mexico, we weren’t quite sure how we could help. Yes, we know we can’t save them all – but as the saying goes, "saving the life of one animal won't change the world, but the world will certainly change for that one animal.” But, in this situation it wasn’t just one life to save, but two (as you will soon read.)
(Photo of the kill pen - horses destined for the slaughter house. Please help us make a stand and end this nightmare.)
There were 24 horses listed at the kill pen who were given one week for rescuers to bail them out (by paying their “meat prices”) before the weekly truck showed up. (In case you didn’t know: it is illegal to slaughter horses for meat in the United States. It’s been that way since 2005. However, it is not illegal to ship them out of state for that same purpose; you could say a loop hole in legislation. Some go to Mexico. Some to Canada. And some are put into small, wooden crates, lifted by a big crane and shipped to Europe or Japan. Looking at data from 2012 to 2016, an average of 137,000 American horses were trucked over our borders each year to slaughter facilities in Mexico and Canada. However, thanks to rescues like ours and animal advocates helping to expose this dreadful industry, that number has been greatly reduced to 23,000 in 2021.) So, we waited and watched as people and rescue organizations stepped in to save these horses. Some were in pretty good shape. Some in bad shape. But they were all scared, confused and many just stood with drooping heads and closed eyes: they had shut down.
Number 819 caught my eye right from the start. Any horse entering a kill pen receives a paper number identification that is glued to their hind-end. Most are disposed there for some reason or other. Perhaps the owner could no longer afford their care; or they lost interest; or for many in this facility, discarded by the Amish who wanted to “upgrade” their plow or cart driving horse – much in the same way as we upgrade our cars. There was something about this particular horse that tugged at my heart. Perhaps, the fact that he had a kind eye and gentle appearance; but more, perhaps, that in the midst of all this chaos and confusion, he retained a sense of gentlemanly decorum and a glimmer (just a glimmer) of hope. It didn’t help him any that he was an older guy. 18-years-old. A senior horse. I could hear the death bell toll.
(Photos of #819 when I first saw him. He looks so sad as though he knows the worst is to come.)
As the number of horses grew less (and in this I rejoiced!) I knew it wasn’t looking too good for him. I kept my daily vigil hoping to find that he had been saved. But, each time I checked, he was still there. As his time grew shorter, I felt my heart sink and began a kind of mantra in my head every time I looked: “come on number 819. Come on.” But, still, he was there. Then the final day came. Fortunately, there was only one horse left. But heartbreakingly, it was my number 819! I kept checking all that day, hour by hour, and then finally, as the deadline of 8pm approached, I began counting down the minutes and saying bleakly aloud: “he has 5 minutes left!” Then, chokingly, “he has three minutes left!” And then. . . it was too late. His chances were over. And I cried.
(Photo of #819. Look into their eyes and you will see a story written there . . .)
The next morning, I was overjoyed to find that an anonymous donor had put down a partial bail to give him one more day to find his people – and that is when I knew: I was his people! I was the one I’d been waiting for this whole time. And there was no way I was going to lose him twice. I immediately put a call in to one of our amazing donors who offered to help. My heart literally soared! We’d be able to bail him out. But that wasn’t all we needed. We’d have to get him to a local quarantine barn where they would keep him for 30-days before he could be hauled by a professional driver home. Nearly all of the horses in the kill pens are either sick, or get sick. There are also laws that require horses crossing state lines to have certain papers issued by a veterinarian. I did my best to stay focused on each step – and amazingly, God just kept that door open. I guess he must’ve liked this horse just as much as I did. For this horse, whom I’d begun calling “Royal”, it had swung open with a bang. To make a long story short, in a matter of an hour, we had lined everything up and that very same afternoon, Royal found himself at a nice quarantine barn run by a wonderful lady.
But, the story doesn’t end there. Because, right after all this happened we were notified of another horse in the same place with a messed up knee that hadn’t been listed. He too had run out of chances and reached the end of the line. My mind immediately went to a very special donor of ours. One who never ceases to amaze me especially when faced with dire situations like this. Chris is an old friend of the organization and has swooped in more than once to save an animal in crisis. Not more than five minutes after I had sent an email telling him about this second horse did he reply with a full payment to bring him to safety. Wow! That same day, the new horse was transported to the quarantine barn with Royal. After seeing his adorable pictures, I thought he looked just like a bear cub (he is young) with his cute little face. So, there it was, he would be called: Bear. Bear the Brave.
(Photos of Bear and his injured knee.)
And now, we come to your part in the story, because none of the beautiful, inspiring, life-saving, life-changing work we do here could ever be possible without the aid and support of our beloved donors. Your gifts – both big and small – add up in the most extraordinary way. So, long story over, here’s what we need. We need to raise $1,600 to pay a hauler to bring both horses home. Once here, we will need help from our veterinarian. Bear’s leg injury is a serious concern as you can see in the above pictures. They will both need farrier work and lots of good food and care. That all being said, we are hoping to raise at least $5k. Whether it is $5, $50, $500, we hope with all of our hearts that their story will inspire you to help us give them the second chance they so deserve. Because they need a second chance. All beings, both great and small, deserve that. Which is why we champion for both the tiny rabbit all the way up to the noble horse.
With that all being said, we would like to share some more exciting news! CCFS has begun a rescue/adoption program for high-risk horses called the “Majestic Horse” project: dedicated to helping equines who have lost all hope and run out of chances. This project will allow us to help one or two high-risk equines a year with the mission to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome (so we can help more.) Royal and Bear have been entered in as this year’s 2023 Majestic horses! And with your help, we will do our best to change the world for these two brave, beautiful creatures.
(Photo of Royal's numbered sticker. No longer just a number he has a name.)
We are looking for horse angels for Royal and Bear. PLEASE DONATE (any bit helps), SHARE and help us give them every chance in the world. Thank you with all of our hearts for your wonderful support, generosity and willingness to help. You are amazing and we are utterly grateful to you. Thank you!
With Deepest Gratitude,
Jenny & Mathew
Cottontail Cottage Farm Sanctuary
(Donations are tax-deductible. They can also be mailed to: CCFS, 471 Milbridge Rd., Cherryfield, ME 04622)
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