Group starts horse hospice
If Sharon Wells-Ackermans, a director of the Horse Protection Society of BC has her way, no elderly, ill or unwanted horse will end its life with a terrifying trip to the slaughterhouse or alone in a field because its owner couldn’t face the prospect of euthanasia.
The Langley-based non-profit group has launched what Sharon calls a “horse hospice” which, for a very modest fee, will make all the arrangements for a humane, dignified death for a horse, and disposal of the animal. Also included is a day and night’s stay in a private paddock, and generous amounts of love, attention and treats on the animal’s last days.
“We see horses put out to pasture who die a slow, miserable death because their owners can’t face the decision to put them down. We want to make it easier to do the right thing, to help make arrangements that can be overwhelming,” said Sharon.
Sharon recalls the story of a woman who bought a 28-year old Arab mare with Cushing’s disease at a local auction, took her home, lavished care and attention on her, and arranged for a dignified, humane end to a faithful family pet who had fallen on hard times.
“I don’t know who she was, but what an incredibly kind thing she did.”
The Horse Protection Society will also offer grief counseling, and arrange cremation or transportation to the hospice if requested.
Sharon has already had calls from people facing the same decision for different reasons. One was a trainer with a horse so dangerous it would never be safe to ride. Another call was from Gena, a friend of Sharon’s who runs Outback Jack’s horse rescue in Princeton. Gena had become deeply attached to a rescued mare called Alaska who faced multiple health challenges. As she battled to save the mare, she discovered a horse with a huge heart whose talents emerged with months of constant care.
“She bows, she puts her lips to you for kisses, she loves every animal on this ranch. She has the kindest eyes ever, Betty Davis eyes. Once in a while you just fall in love with a horse. I fell in love with Alaska,” said Gena.
When the mare’s health suddenly began to deteriorate, Gena feared the battle for Alaska’s survival was about to be lost.
“I couldn’t face the thought of putting her down. So I called Sharon, who agreed to help me if it was necessary,” she added.
Fortunately, Alaska slowly recovered and is expected to live a normal life, although she will not be offered for adoption.
“I think that a horse hospice is a great idea. In our area we see so many horses dumped in the bush because people don’t know what else to do with them. This will give people a humane alternative,” said Gena.
For more information on the horse hospice program and other Horse Protection Society initiatives, contact Sharon by email at email@example.com or go to the group’s website at www.horseprotectionsocietyofbc.com.
Anne Patterson is a Langley writer and horse owner. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.