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Zuma's Rescue Ranch Saves Seven 3- Strikes Ranch Horses from starvation and neglect
One of Nebraska's worst cases of animal cruelty, neglect and abuse took place in April 2009 at the 3-Strikes Ranch in Alliance Nebraska. 74 Horses confirmed dead and 211 horses rescued from the owners. Many of these horses are in horrible shape.
On Monday April 20th, Jodi and three other volunteers from Zuma’s Rescue Ranch made the drive to Alliance Nebraska to help care for the horses at 3-Strikes Ranch. The volunteers were Gina Berg, Abby Matthias, and Jessica Johnson. Zuma’s and its volunteers had purchased several bags of grain, lice powder, worming paste and foal feed for the horses prior to their departure.
Upon their arrival to 3-Strikes Zuma’s volunteers were horrified at what they saw. The four women joined Amanda immediately at the daunting task of caring for these critically ill horses. The horses were in very bad shape many of the scoring a 2(very thin) on the Henneke Horse Chart, meaning they were in desperate need of intervention. Day one into the rescue ended at 8:00 pm and the group headed for dinner and to plan the next day.
It was decided that water hoses, water troughs, manure forks and wheel barrels would be needed to properly care for the horses. Zuma’s purchased these supplies, for about $466.00. Once the horses had been fed that morning, the monumental task of removing manure from the holding pens would be necessary to help eliminate the worms from the horses systems.
In addition to “Poo” scooping it was decided to separate the mares and foals from the herd, as well as separate the weakest horses into one area. This task took hours to accomplish, since most of the were not tame enough to be haltered or led, thereby posing significant challenges for the group of volunteers, who were most familiar with handling trained, domestic horses. With Amandas’ guidance, however, the Zuma’s Girls successfully moved the horses to safer holding pens. After evening feed and watering of the horses, the tired crew headed for food and then the hotel.
The next day would prove to be extremely frustrating, a classic case of too many chiefs not enough Indians. The day began with feeding and watering of the horses. Then came the Sheriff and the head of another horse rescue group. The task at hand was to get Jason to sign the horses over to this rescue group, allowing the horses to begin being taken from the property and placed at the Bridgeport Nebraska fair grounds. Jason was unwilling to sign over the horses. He had contacted a third horse rescue group that specialized in mustangs wanting this group to take control. The original rescue group brought in was not comfortable allowing Jason to choose the horses’ fate, given his prior abuse of them. Tempers flared. It was then suggested that Jodi try to reason with Jason, and after some discussion the papers were signed allowing two horse rescues to split the herd and take control of them away from Meduna.
On the following day, the head of the second horse rescue group named to take charge of these horses arrived along with the HSUS, which the Alliance Sheriff, John Edens had called in for assistance. Together the three devised a plan to move the horses, allowing Jason to assist. Despite efforts to allow his participation, however, Jason was less than cooperative and only 16 horses were moved. At this point all involved were frustrated and a new plan was being developed behind the scenes, one that involved the use of semi truck to transport the horses.
This was an ill- advised plan, devised by an overzealous neighbor of the 3-Strikes Ranch. For anyone who had the horses’ best interests at heart, it was obvious that transporting horses this sick and weak should not and could not be safely done in this manner. This plan fell through luckily for the horses.
Plan B was to have many volunteer horse trailer owners arrive and begin loading horses onto horse trailers that could carry between 4 and 10 horses each. This plan seemed to be a much better option for the horses. Dr. Tom Furman, an equine veterinarian on the scene, led the efforts to load these fragile horses. Two separate loading areas were devised. The HSUS folks, the Zuma’s volunteers and some other local helpers were divided into two groups. Zuma’s girls along with some of the HSUS group took charge of the weakest of the weak horses. The HSUS and one of the rescue groups charged with the horses’ care took the stronger group of horses to load.
The loading took the entire day, and went off mostly without a hitch. There were some differences of opinion between the loading groups but all in all things went well considering the circumstances. At nightfall there were still 12 horses out on the range to bring in and about 14 left in holding pens to load.
The following day Amanda Davis assisted is driving the range horses in, as should have been the original plan, as Amanda knew where the horses were and had brought them into the base on previous visits to the ranch. This day went much more smoothly with Amandas’ guidance.
The unloading and separating of the horses at the fairgrounds went very smoothly under the guidance of the HSUS and some volunteers from South Dakota that had been helping all week with this rescue mission. At the fair grounds, the horses were separated by into groups–the weakest in one group, pregnant mares in another, mares and foals, and lastly geldings and stallions. The large round bales of hay were nowhere to be seen when the first load of horses arrived, an oversite by the rescue group given the charge of these horses. Once this oversite was discovered, the hay purchased by Hilary Wood of Front Range Equine Rescue from the mercantile was quickly delivered to these starving horses.
Now this week April 28th the stallions that survived the winter at 3-strikes ranch were to be gelded, a much- needed procedure, however one might think should and could wait till the stallions were healthier. Obviously the agenda to get this all done expediently appeared of more importance than the horses welfare at this point. We are hoping for the best for these horses.
In addition to gelding the stallions, all of these horses need worming, vaccinations, coggins testing and health certificates. In order to achieve this goal these horses in their very weakened state will be run through shoots quite possibly before they are healthy enough to run, for the sake of getting it all done quickly.
If this were a rescue mission in the truest sense of rescue, these horses would be fed and watered for a few weeks before they are put through the shoots and medicated. Each horse deserves the best treatment from man after what they have survived. Apparently it is more important to those in charge to get it all wrapped up quickly.
Luckily for the horses, Hilary Wood of Front Range Equine Rescue has been charged with finding suitable homes for these horses. Please, send donations to Front Range Equine Rescue to assist in the re-homing process. And if you have the means and the skills to adopt a Mustang, Please Do.
A decision has been made that the stallions rescued from 3-Strikes Mustang Ranch will not be gelded immediately, as we reported in our prior post. Apparently someone with a modicum of good sense has realized that these horses are too sick and weak to undergo such a stressful surgery at present. We are relieved that these horses have been given the time to recover that they so desperately need.
We hope, however, that they will be gelded when they are healthy enough, or that when efforts are ultimately made to re-home these horses, adoptive homes will be required to geld them before placement can occur. Zuma’s was disappointed to learn of the large number of stallions allowed to mix with the herd at 3-Strikes. Such irresponsible breeding practices can only have served to compound the problems that led to the unfortunate state of this herd, and the land on which it resided.
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