ASPCA Helps Treat 160 Horses Battling West Nile Virus

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 2:15pm

Earlier this week, the ASPCA granted $12,000 to Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue of Lancaster, CA after the organization rescued 166 wild mustangs from a Nevada auction block. The horses, who had been living on public land, were seized by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and turned over to the Nevada Department of Agriculture for public sale—many destined for foreign meat markets. After garnering incredible public support, Lifesavers was able to save the equines from potential slaughter.

In a tragic twist of fate, several of the horses fell sick soon after rescue—blood tests revealed they were positive for the West Nile Virus. Transmitted by mosquitoes and at times fatal, West Nile Virus affects countless numbers of horses each year. Symptoms typically include stumbling, wobbly gait, circling, hind limb weakness, inability to stand, fever, seizure, coma and paralysis. Unfortunately, six of the horses died due to virus complications. 

To decrease the spread of infection among the uninfected horses, Lifesavers worked with local veterinarians to vaccinate the entire herd. The funds donated by the ASPCA were used to provide the critical care and life-saving medical treatments needed.

"These horses were lucky enough to escape slaughter, and Lifesavers made an extraordinary effort to provide for them during this unfortunate outbreak," says Jacque Schultz, Senior Director of Community Initiatives for the ASPCA. "Treating such a large group is a challenging task and the ASPCA was honored to assist in providing these animals with a second chance."

Since 1997, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue has provided refuge, training and placement for hundreds of horses in need.

Take Action—Join the Pony Express!
Your help is needed to help stop the inhumane roundup of wild equines. The National Wild Horse Foundation is urging animals advocates from across the country to join their Pony Express campaign—a life-saving letter writing initiative.

Supporters are asked to visit Saving America's Mustangs, click on the Pony Express button and compose a polite letter urging the BLM to end their needless slaughter and confinement of wild horses and burros.

Madeline Pickens, the organization's founder, will print and personally deliver the letters to President Obama, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey via “Pony Express”—on one of her many rescued mustangs. The group has set a goal of collecting 20,000 letters by September 1, so be sure to add your voice to the Pony Express today!

For more information on the ASPCA’s effort to protect America’s wild horses, visit our Wild Horses page.