At the ASPCA, helping horses isn’t just something we preach—it’s something we practice in our work every single day. Intelligent, sensitive, and true American icons, horses have been at the heart of our mission since the very beginning, and in honor of our second annual National Help a Horse Day on April 26, we wanted to share the amazing story of Benny.
We first heard about Benny from our friends Joyce and Nona at Last Stop Horse Rescue in Prentiss, Maine. Last Stop is the recipient of an ASPCA grant: every three weeks, our grant funds the delivery of 20 bales of hay to Last Stop to feed the rescued horses.
We recently checked in with Last Stop, and that’s when they told us Benny’s story. Starved, emaciated and close to death, Benny arrived at Last Stop in August 2013. The four-year-old gelding showed clear signs of abuse and neglect, and was so weak that he could not stand on his own legs. The day of his arrival, he weighed just 562 pounds.
The staff at Last Stop spent several days trying to keep Benny standing, but ultimately, the best option was to place him in a sling hanging from a beam in the barn. At the recommendation of Dr. Ron Miles Benny was introduced to food slowly and in small amounts.
Slowly but surely, Benny gained strength. Over the 12 days that he was in the sling, Joyce says “we saw improvement each day with signs of brighter eyes, moving his feet more, and being able to consume more of the food that was being offered to him.” The team at Last Stop fed him every hour around the clock, setting an alarm to ensure that he got meals throughout the night as well.
After nearly two weeks in a sling, Benny stood for the first time on August 15. It was a joyous day for all involved.
It has now been over six months since Benny arrived at Last Stop. He currently weighs 930 pounds, and uses his newfound strength to gallop around the pasture with his fellow horses. Despite years of abuse and neglect, Joyce says, “Benny is our miracle boy. Food and love was all he needed.”
Stories like Benny’s are what inspired us to create National Help a Horse Day. All too often, these amazing animals are mistreated, neglected, or even sent to slaughter. The ASPCA is determined to spread education and activism on behalf of equines everywhere, and Benny is proof that every horse is worth helping. Looking back at Benny’s recovery, Joyce says, “This is what you have done for these horses with the grant from the ASPCA. Thank you!”
To see Benny in action, please watch Last Stop Horse Rescue’s video of his recovery. Be sure to visit our Help a Horse page for information about events in your community. The ASPCA is awarding $10,000 grants to the top five equine organizations whose events inspire the most community engagement and support.
ORANGE you excited?! Today is the ASPCA’s birthday! That’s right, the oldest humane organization in the Western Hemisphere is turning the big 1-4-8.
It all started when our founder, Henry Bergh, decided to speak up for animals in Civil War-era New York. After gathering signatures for his “Declaration of the Rights of Animals,” Bergh was given an official charter to incorporate the ASPCA on April 10, 1866. Nine days later, the first effective anti-cruelty law in the United States was passed and, with a team of three, the ASPCA began working to enforce it. By the time Bergh died in 1888, 37 of the 38 states in the U.S. had passed anti-cruelty laws.
We have spent the past 148 years honoring Henry Bergh’s mission “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States,” and we hope you will join us in celebrating. Hug your pet, don some orange, and help us blow out these 148 candles!
Last August, the ASPCA played a major role in the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history. The raid, which spanned Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, led to the rescue of hundreds of dogs ranging in age from several days to 10-12 years. At the time, we knew that these dogs would have long journeys ahead of them—many suffered physically and emotionally at the hands of their abusers. But they were survivors, and today, just in time for National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, six more of the sweet pups from that raid are ready for adoption.
The six dogs, all between the ages of 8 months and 1.5 years, spent the last seven months in a temporary shelter experiencing love and happiness for the very first time. Through daily enrichment, outdoor exercise, play sessions and behavioral training, they have been rehabilitated and are ready to find permanent, loving homes.
We are so thrilled for these pups—Evie, Charlie, Uno, Willie, Zayla and Rohan—but their story is a real reminder of why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day is necessary. We created NDFAD to increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting, and to encourage animal lovers across the country to take action against this brutal form of animal cruelty.
Just last week, authorities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with the ASPCA raided eight crime scenes, seizing 23 suspected fighting dogs. It’s a chilling and sad reminder of how prevalent dog fighting is in America today and a further indication of why it was necessary for us to declare April 8 National Dog Fighting Awareness Day.
Even though dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, the ASPCA’s participation in two major multi-state raids in the last year alone refute any claim that dog fighting is a rare activity, or that it’s restricted to certain parts of the country or people with whom we wouldn’t normally associate.
The truth is dog fighting is not a relic of times past or random, isolated incidents. In addition to last week’s Wisconsin dog fighting case, nearly 100 dogs were seized in a multi-state raid just over a year ago across Texas, Missouri and Kansas. Just eight months ago, hundreds of dogs were seized in what is believed to be the second largest dog fighting case in U.S. history across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas.
The truth is dog fighting is not a “southern problem.” The blood sport has been reported in urban, suburban and rural settings in all regions of the country.
The truth is dog fighting participants represent people you may know. Lawyers, judges, teachers, high school football coaches and veterinary technicians have all been arrested in connection to dog fighting. People involved in dog fighting also span racial and socioeconomic boundaries.
These are the relatively pleasant truths. Unpleasant truths include stories of animals being routinely and viciously attacked, beaten, electrocuted and drowned. They include stories about “rape stands” used for breeding, and “bait dogs” used for fighting practice. Bait dogs are typically stolen pets or dogs that refuse to fight. Their teeth are often removed so that other dogs can practice fighting without getting injured.
As I wrote recently, it’s not enough to see dog fighting as just a crime. Society discourages, yet tolerates a number of crimes—some are even glorified. But dog fighting is a deep stain on our national character, a cultural embarrassment we should all feel. This is not about just locking up bad guys; this is about doing everything we can to bring this nightmarish practice to an end. We can’t rest until it does.
That’s why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day isn’t just another way to fill a calendar box; it’s a necessary measure to help stop one of the most horrific forms of animal abuse imaginable.
Of course you probably don’t know about dog fights going on where you live. But chances are you know some children, and can talk to them about the value animals bring to our lives, as well as the humanity we owe them in return.
Pictured: Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
Capitol Hill was once again the site of some serious human-animal bonding when the ASPCA hosted our annual “Paws for Love” gathering on April 4 along with the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. At least 20 Members of Congress and nearly 1,200 congressional staff members happily interrupted their hectic workdays to cuddle with adorable dogs and cats from local animal shelters and rescues. Attendees learned about the vital work that these compassionate people do for animals every day—both in the nation’s capital and throughout the country.
“The ASPCA and the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus have come together to show our bipartisan ‘love’ for shelter animals,” said Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “We are celebrating the life-saving work of community animal shelters and rescues nationwide and honoring the millions of lovable homeless dogs and cats currently waiting to be adopted.”
Sincere thanks to the wonderful animal rescue organizations that participated in the 2014 Paws for Love:
Animal Welfare League of Arlington Homeward Trails Last Chance Animal Rescue Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation Prince George’s County Animal Shelter Washington Animal Rescue League Washington Humane Society