As another five horses are turned away from Mountains Animal Sanctuary, Scotland’s largest equine sanctuary has launched an urgent fund-raising appeal to ensure a long-term future for its 140 horses, ponies and donkeys.
In the last year alone the Angus based equine sanctuary has received over 300 calls and e-mails from owners who can no longer look after their horses.
In recent months the sanctuary has had to close its doors to non-welfare cases while it secures long-term funding and recruits volunteers to look after the animals.
The Dayzee Appeal: Help our horses keep their home was launched last Thursday by Mountains Animal Sanctuary to coincide with campaign mascot Dayzee’s first birthday.
Pupils from Tannadice Primary joined in the birthday celebrations and helped Tay FM presenter Stuart Webster and Pam Taylor, the sanctuary’s new manager, launch the campaign which aims to raise much needed funds following one of the harshest winters on record and an increase in demand.
Each year, in the UK over 1600 horses are abandoned. Combine that with 7,933 horses who were slaughtered for meat and there is a real need for equine welfare centres.
Retired race horses, rare breeds, former cart-horses and retired riding horses for the disabled have all been handed in to Mountains Animal Sanctuary over the last 29 years, since it was established in 1982.
In the last year alone, the sanctuary has taken in 36 horses including Dayzee, a Fallabella who was born with a luxating patella resulting in her hips dislocating easily.
Other residents include Rosie, a rescued bay Arab mare born in 1984, who lost an eye as a result of a concrete block being deliberately dropped on her head.
She had her eye removed at Mountains Animal Sanctuary and she copes very well.
In addition, Faye, the sanctuary’s oldest resident at 44 years arrived in June 1997. A Shetland cross, she arrived neglected, in poor condition, with sweetitch, lice and badly overgrown feet. Originally a very nervous pony, with a lot of work and dedication from the staff she is now a quietly confident pony.
Caring for horses, especially those who have been cruelly treated or neglected is expensive.
Vet bills last year totalled £33,000, add that to food bills of £15,000 and £20,000 for farrier care, it comes to quite a bill for Mountains, which is reliant on support from donations, sponsorships, legacies and the generosity of individuals.
Pam Taylor, the newly appointed manager of the Mountains Animal Sanctuary said: “We’ve found ourselves in quite a predicament as we struggle to afford to keep and care for the 140 horses we have and as we encounter a growing demand from owners who can no longer keep their equines.
“The long-term sustainable future of the sanctuary is to continue re-habilitating those horses which come to us with illnesses and ailments, but also be able to successfully re-home.
“Often with then right care from our experienced staff, even the most difficult to manage animals can be rehabilitated and re-homed. A horse is at its happiest when it has a loving home with one-to-one attention, and for us, this is the end result we like to see for our residents.
“As a result, the Dayzee Appeal is intended to raise enough money to help us look after and care for the animals we have here, but to also be in a position to take in those horses in need of homes.
“We’re calling for help and support in all kinds of ways. While financial support, for example, sponsorship, donations and legacies, is vital, there are other ways people can help. We would be delighted to hear from volunteers who can give up their time to help us, can offer a home to any of our horses, or perhaps those who could donate food or blankets.
“Any support no matter how small is essential to continue the good work of the sanctuary and provide a haven for those horses most in need.”
Mountains Animal Sanctuary employs 19 full and part-time staff and relies heavily on volunteers to help with feeding (in the winter months up to 130 feeds are dished out and delivered each day), to support with vet visits and offer care and love to enable the rehabilitation of the horses.
Anita Udale, who is head girl and started work at the sanctuary five years ago, said:
“We’ve found ourselves in a difficult financial position and need to continue to care for our horses in the best possible way and we desperately need volunteers.
“To care for the number of horses we have is time intensive but so rewarding. With certain horses needing specialist food and regular care plans there’s always lots to do. It’s fun too - all of the horses have different personalities and habits and certainly keep you on your toes.”
Stuart Webster, Tay FM breakfast show presenter, said: “Mountains Animal Sanctuary does a wonderful job, and it’s vitally important that it is able to continue caring for the horses, donkeys and ponies.
“The fact that five horses a week are turned away is upsetting - we need people to help support the Dayzee Appeal, whether it’s through volunteering, donations or re-homing in order to make the campaign a huge success.”
Mountains was established in 1982 in Kent by dedicated animal lover and former rally driver Alan B. Fraser. He relocated to Milton of Ogil in 1991 when more land was needed.
Mr Fraser funded the sanctuary until his death in October 2010.
Every donation received would make such a difference to the Mountains Animal Sanctuary which also offers a small visitor centre and tours of the facility.
It couldn’t be easier to donate to The Dayzee Appeal: Visit the website and donate online – www.mountainsanimalsanctuary.org.uk; telephone 01356 650258; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org