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Susan Falcon S.

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Review for Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue Inc., Shoals, WV, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Since 1968 I have worked with dozens of small and large animal rescues. Many start out with good intentions, but fail. They fail supporters, themselves and the very lives they are trying to save. They lack focus, budgeting skills, resource management, foresight and grit. Many even lack basic animal care knowledge and honour.

You HAVE to be a little nuts to run a good rescue, you have to be strong, vocal, informed and have limitless fire. But it cannot be done by one person. It takes the coordinated efforts of many knowledgeable people willing to put the lives of the animals ahead of their own egos. A good rescue team will get up in the middle of the night to drive hundreds of miles to get to an auction at o'dark-thirty to lift collapsed animals and carry them to a borrowed trailer. A great rescue understands that you can't save all lives. An epic rescue educates all people and works with legislation to reduce the chances that animal care will fail in the first place.

For the efforts and continuing journey towards ending the practice of abandoning horses at coal mines - or worse, using public land as free grazing for breeding MORE horses and/or to fatten up horses destined for meat slaughter - for the work done to fight this portion of commercialized abuse alone - This amazing team deserves all the support and respect the nation's equine lovers have in their hearts.

Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue has added to the body of knowledge on how to bring back to glowing, sound, working health an animal considered by vets and other equine professionals as beyond help. And they have been generous in spreading that knowledge. They have held free gelding clinics to reduce the number of breeding animals and help turn brainless studs into safe partners.

Heart of Phoenix Equine rescue epitomizes all of these hard won skills. And they'be manage to take amazing care of their own farms, families and jobs.

Then they went a step farther. Southern West Virginia and surrounding areas have experienced devastating floods this year. I swear, I don't think it was 24 hours before the HOP team was networking and taking action to help ALL animals put at risk by the loss of pasture, fences, shelters and owners.

The coordination efforts to find temporary fosters, hay, supplies, feed, medical care, shelter - and get it all where it needed to go - saved the hearts of many devastated families from having to sell goats, horses and cattle at auction and dump pets at the shelter. This state has a strong 4H and FFA presence. Children do without a lot of things to raise these animals. Though HOP efforts may seem like a drop in the bucket during this time, to the lives they have been able to touch, they have brought comfort and hope. Plus the knowledge that somewhere out there, other animal lovers really do care.

And during all of this heartbreaking chaos, the rescues never failed. Animals tied to spikes in the ground by ropes grinding into their necks - newborn foals who's mothers could barely stand - gaunt haunted faces of animals who had no reason to hope - a mare foaling in the wild facing yet one more of our harsh mountain winters - all have been brought into a professional network of caring and safety.

And they face the knowledge that this winter will expose many animals made homeless by the floods to starvation, pregnancy and slow death from lack of minimal shelter.

Heart of Phoenix has been there for me when I've had to deal with neighbors who own a free range stallion. They offered to geld him. They offered to spend the funds to train him and assure that he became a useful, valuable animal instead of a danger to the county. But the job of education has not ended. The owners, despite the horse totaling a car in a midnight accident on a major highway, would not take advantage of the help offered. They still don't understand their responsibility for control of a 1,000 pound breeding animal nor that this poor animal lives a lonely life all by himself. This stallion continued to break down fencing as long as I had mares on the property. Driving us to the brink of financial ruin and forcing me to rehome my beloved forever mares. And even with vet checks and ultra-sounds, we ended up with two colts. These boys will need gelding, training and care for a lifetime. They are loved. But honestly? They were not 'wanted'. (Law enforcement, animal control and the courts were of no help - so don't bother telling me that they would have. Laws differ from state to state, burden of enforcement sometimes falls to citizens.)

I hope that Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue thrives for decades to come. I hope that there comes a time when they aren't pulled out of bed at three in the morning to transport a crippled, blind or starved animal to its final resting place - able to provide a few loving hours in a life of misery because the owners and authorities FINALLY did the right thing, Too late... too late. I hope that someday they can focus JUST on proactive education. Helping loving struggling owners to get along during times of need instead of documenting carcasses in a barren pen because an owner was in hospital and no one cared. I hope that someday, long after I am gone, this amazing team looks back on a lifetime of change. Stories that the next generation will have trouble believing - because seriously - look at the before pictures. Who could believe so many animals are suffering around us all the time through ignorance, lack of law enforcement or evil intent?

The HOP team has a vision and have developed a practical approach to maximizing every penny to help the most animals and owners possible - right now and into the future.

This is the legacy, ethics and excellence for which every rescue should be striving.


Because of the handful of rescue animals I care for myself, I am unable to donate money to the rescue. But, oh my... I wish I could. I've seen money wasted and spent foolishly at so many other rescues. Not these folks. I've seen greed and ego and over reaching and lack of local support doom well meaning rescues to failure. Not these folks.

Please, help them change our future and the future of all animals.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Oddly enough, not a damned thing. They are growing from a good foundation and taking each expansion as a carefully thought out step for the future.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

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Role:  Professional with expertise in this field