Whinnies, hee-haws and a little braying are music to Christine Griffin, founder and president of Equine Wellbeing Rescue Inc., east of Snowflake.
According to the rescue’s website http://www.equinewellbeing.org, their 501c3 nonprofit status was effective on July 1, 2011. As a nonprofit corporation, they can accept the donations of people and businesses that support their mission by helping horses, donkeys and minis from abuse, neglect, or other situations of need. The rescue also created “Hope’s Legacy Emergency Equine Food Fund,” after the starvation deaths of two local horses. And for five years in a row, Equine Wellbeing received the top-rated charity award by Greatnonprofits. In 2018, the rescue achieved Guidestar’s “platinum” status, the highest status one can obtain.
According to https://www.yourdictionary.com, the word “rescue” is defined as “to free, save from danger or take out of legal custody by force.”
Every rescue situation is different and quite often, law enforcement is involved. Griffin explains that over the years people have contacted them because they see an animal that’s in a dire neglect situation, or they find loose or abandoned horses or animals. First they refer them over to the department of agriculture, which handles neglected and abandoned livestock for the state.
Apache County does not have any animal control. Navajo County has an animal control, but it’s for small animals. They’re not really set up to deal with equine issues, as far as loose horses, neglect or abuse cases.
Usually, the first step, if somebody calls in, unless it’s an absolute emergency, they are refer them to the Department of Agriculture’s dispatch number, which then logs in the call, the name of the person and the location of the animal(s). That starts a legal file that may be needed to proceed with actually enforcing the laws and seizing the animals.
It’s quite involved, depending on the circumstances.
The brand inspectors try to respond within 24 hours. However, depending on what day of the week it is and what their caseload is, they may not be able to respond quickly. Of course, the dispatch and the brand inspector themselves need to draw from the information that they’re given as to how urgent the situation may be.
Griffin shared a recent local incident that was deemed dire.
“Last year, a group of horses crossed Highway 60, with some being struck by a vehicle. The horses then went into a housing development called Summer Pines, off the 60, just south of Show Low. We were called, Navajo county and the Department of Agriculture were called because there were injured, loose horses, roaming the streets of that little development. So it was an all hands on deck, sort of an immediate response. In another situation, this year, I received some photos of some horses that were extremely skinny.
“I had the person call the Department of Agriculture dispatch. They needed to follow the procedures in order to get it documented that the call came in from someone in the community. But since she had contacted me and sent me pictures, I went ahead and sent a picture to the brand inspector. This gave him a heads up of what was coming in. He was able to go out and see the horse immediately. He could see it was a dire situation. I don’t want to do that very often, I only do it in what I consider an urgent situation, as its best that the information comes from a firsthand witness,” Griffin said.
Griffin and her husband will travel just about any distance for a rescue. Case in point — Griffin said a breeder in South Dakota went from 200 horses to 900 horses in a matter of a couple of years and could no longer feed them. Since the ranch spread across two counties, both the counties sheriffs impounded the horses and demanded that the herd be dispersed. Several equine rescue organizations around the country became involved to find them homes. “After traveling 2000 miles, our rescue ended up with five. It’s interesting because we help locally with rescues, we help on a statewide basis and with rescues working in coordination with other rescues that we know here.”
Griffin and a group of volunteers organize an online auction twice a year, to raise funds.
“We typically do our fundraiser on Facebook, where we set up an album of donated items,” Griffin said. “We have followers from all over the country, in Canada, Europe, New Zealand and South Africa. This gives people all over the world the opportunity to support us. We have a lot of artwork, frames, photography, handmade gifts, jewelry, household items and some winter blankets for horses. We’ve even received gift certificates from different vendors.”
The auction FUNdRAISER starts Oct. 18, at facebook.com/equinewellbeingrescue.