On December 9, members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team were dispatched to assist in the care of more than 100 critically ill and neglected horses seized from a ranch in Fulton County, Arkansas. The equines were transported to a temporary shelter where they are now receiving the food, water and medical care they so desperately needed.
Kathryn Destreza, the ASPCA’s Southeast Regional Director, is currently on the ground in Fulton County with other ASPCA team members skilled in horse handling. "This is just one of the many horrific cases we respond to—and our main priority is always the wellbeing of the animals,” says Destreza. “Many of us will miss the holidays with our loved ones this year, but there is no doubt in any of our minds that this is where we belong—we owe these animals a second chance.”
The following entries are from a series of field reports from Arkansas, where the team rang in the new year.
Field Report: New Year’s Eve
It’s New Year’s Eve and the weather is very temperamental—we are on high alert for severe tornados, which have already claimed the lives of three people in nearby counties. Many of the horses sense the unsettling conditions and are reacting with increased anxiety. Because of the weather, we also experienced a record-breaking 45 degree temperature drop in a matter of hours, and many of the horses had to be blanketed. Despite the heavy rains and cold weather, our team remains in high spirits, spending extra time comforting the horses while we go about our routine of daily chores.
Our days are long, often more than 12 hours. Caring for more than 100 horses is time-consuming and the work is hard—mucking and stripping stalls, maintaining a strict feeding and watering schedule, and administrating medications all must be done multiple times each day. But without a doubt, we are all happy to be here.
By late afternoon, the worst of the storm had passed, the rains stopped and the atmosphere around the barn took on a festive nature. Carrots and other treats were handed out to the horses, and team members began to celebrate the dawn of a new year.
Field Report: New Year’s Day
We arrived on site to sunny skies. Though temperatures were crisp, it was the perfect day to let some of the horses out into the pastures. It was amazing to watch them gallop and buck—to know that despite all that they had endured their spirits were not broken.
The horses have been under our care for nearly three weeks now, and we already see a drastic improvement in their health. Their infections are clearing up, they are putting on weight and their personalities are beginning to shine through. As we celebrate the new year, we are thankful that we have been able to make such a life-changing difference for these animals.