Members of The Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary Alliance have come to the aid of over 500 wild horses in one of the largest horse rescues in U.S. history — but we cannot succeed without you.
In early October, the Alliance became aware that the wild horses at a sanctuary in Lantry, South Dakota, was unable to meet the financial demands for the horses in its care that, without any population management, had grown to a herd of 810. With winter quickly approaching, Alliance members raised over $15,000 and sent hay to the horses there.
On October 11, 2016, the 810 horses owned by the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) were impounded on their sanctuary in Lantry, South Dakota, by the court in Ziebach and Dewey counties.Fleet of Angels under the direction of Elaine Nash, secured adoptive homes for 270 wild horses. Volunteering in impossible freezing temperatures and with no infrastructure, Palomino Armstrong and a small team managed to safely send those 270 wild horses to new homes. The first to leave were blind, sick, and injured foals and mature horses who they could reach in the heavy snow.
After ISPMB was still unable to cover costs to provide feed and care for the horses, the county set a date for the horses to be taken to an auction yard on December 20, 2016, where the horses would be sold off to reimburse the county’s care expenses.
Return to Freedom played an integral role, providing solutions averting this auction, where many of the horses would have been lost to the slaughter pipeline.
Thanks to colleagues at the Humane Society of the United States, The Griffin-Soffell Equine Rescue Foundation, members of the Wild Horse Sanctuary Alliance, Victoria McCullough, and other partners, the expenses the county was hoping to recoup by selling the horses at auction were paid.
On January 27, 2017, South Dakota state’s attorneys reached a settlement agreement with the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros that will transfer control of 520 horses to Fleet of Angels, leaving ISPMB with 20 horses.
Thanks to (Judge Macy’s ruling) the effort of state’s attorneys and local officials, and the contributions of equine- and animal-welfare organizations — and of supporters like you — these unhandled horses have a fighting chance.
Now our work begins anew. Alliance members will continue to help this effort as best as we can in addition to our own responsibilities to the horses and burros in our care.
Return to Freedom is actively supporting our partners who are on the ground in South Dakota by resourcing equipment, wormer, vaccines, veterinary assistance, a farrier, an equine handling chute (generously loaned by Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue), and an experienced chute operator. In addition, RTF and Habitat for Horses continue to raise funds for hay, medical care, transportation, and other costs related to sorting and preparing 520 horses for adoptive homes.
We continually look for responsible adopters for whole herds and stallion groups, even as Fleet of Angels continues placing individual and smaller numbers of horses in new homes.
A $50,000 matching funds donation has been committed to raise funds for feed, care, and medical needs. Thanks to the continued generosity and passion of the Griffen-Soffel Equine Rescue Foundation, all donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000! Please join us and do what you can. Together, your gift is going twice as far.
The cost of feeding the 520 horses while adoptions continue will run $40,000 per month. The winter storms and subzero temperatures in South Dakota have been brutal for the horses and the heroic volunteers from Fleet of Angels alike. Worse yet, many of the horses are underweight, most are infested with parasites, and some suffer from blindness or vision impairment.
Make no mistake: The task ahead is monumental. Over the past decades, Alliance members have all played a key role in many large rescues.
When hundreds of horses have nowhere to go it can seem impossible, but because we have been successful in the past, we know we can do it with your help — and we are committed to a “no horse left behind” campaign.
We will not give up on these horses and, if everyone can contribute, whether a little or a lot, we can build the funds so that every horse will eat and receive medical attention while the adoptions continue through March.
Thank you for being part of this team effort!
P.S. If you want to help us but cannot make a donation, please share this letter, many people giving a little can accomplish a lot!