Turning Copper Into Gold
Turning Copper into Gold
by Gail K Burley
Several weeks of rolling coins - your donated change - has netted us one of the most intense rescue efforts in the history of the Equine Rescue League. Your change, including over $400 in pennies, added up to $851 and was (partially) used at an auction to purchase 6 horses that were otherwise destined for slaughter. The grief and sadness of that day, along with the faces of the 5 who were humanely euthanized, is permanently etched upon our hearts. Cecily's Gold is the last survivor of the six that were rescued that day. What follows is her story. *
Probably the oldest of the six, it is somewhat ironic that Goldie outlived the others. Her age is conservatively estimated to be early to mid thirties. Weighing in at only 60% of her normal weight, Goldie was the most severely emaciated horse that any of us had ever seen survive. We were only half kidding when we joked about angels holding her up in the trailer during the 3 hr. ride back to the shelter.
Despite the will to live that burned brightly inside her, Goldie's body had already started it's process toward death. Her metabolism had slowed so much that her body temperature was a mere 96 degrees F. - four to five degrees below normal. A heart murmur was detected, along with a fluid filled cyst on her right ankle. As we already suspected because of her constant quidding, Goldie's mouth was an equine dentists worst nightmare. Some teeth had super erupted into the roof of her mouth, others were broken or missing. She was placed as a minus 1 on the Henneke horse conditioning scale. Her digestive system was in a state of constant uproar. Her golden coat was ragged without any sign of good health. Her frail body was liberally laced with hundreds of scars that bore mute evidence of a life that had been less than grand. She was dirty, stained, and carried with her a most obnoxious stench that refused to wash off.
Goldie's first major victory came exactly 14 days after her rescue when she was able to lay down to sleep. We theorized that she knew she would never be able to get back up in her severely emaciated state, so she simply just never lay down. More than one tear was shed while watching her leaning against a wall, dozing in the summer sunshine.
Another major victory was achieved when Goldie was healthy enough to be given a bath. What a joy it was to scrub through the layers of filth and discover the glow of her softly golden coat. At the conclusion of her bath she held her head proudly, pleased with the elegant mare she had become. She was enormously pleased to be the object of desire of a handsome black gelding who spent the afternoon nickering at her.
Sometimes it seems as if her rehabilitation can be measured in leaps and bound instead of day by day. Despite having only the bleakest odds of surviving her ordeal, she has seized her renewed chance at life with a gusto that continues to surprise us. She has gained over 300 lbs., and is thrilled to have 3 hot meals a day, plus all the hay and grass she can quid. Her dental problems were so severe that she required surgery. We remain extremely grateful to Dr. Ray Hyde and Dennis Lynch for their expert work on Goldie's mouth.
She has progressed so well that she is now turned out with several other mares. Goldie loves her pampered lifestyle and seems to grow sweeter with each passing day. Despite her horrific experience she shows no malice or suspicion toward any of her human handlers and nickers happily to us at times when we walk by. Goldie is currently available to adoption to a home that can continue to pamper her, as well as shower her with love and treats. She would like nothing better than to spend the remainder of her life as a much loved and treasured companion.
* This story was written in the fall of 1996, only a few months after Goldie's arrival at the ERL. She has continued progress and is truly one of the most inspiring creatures we have ever met.
Update on Cecily's Gold
Cecily's Gold - "Goldie" to most people - has become one of the Equine Rescue League's most popular residents. People who hear her story make appointments to tour the farm just to meet her. When she first arrived, nobody was even sure that she would even survive. Not only did she survive, but Goldie had shown us more about grace, spirit and and indomitable will to live than many people will ever encounter. A "walking anatomy lesson" Goldie put on weight very rapidly once she was placed on a diet that she could eat. Her teeth had been badly neglected and although she's had major dental work done since her arrival, she cannot eat hay or grass, but does very well on soaked pellets. (She wants potential visitors to know that she also does very well on ripe bananas, pears and baked apples with sugar on top.) The remnants of the straw like coat that she arrived with held her physical beauty. Though she quickly grew enough hair to to cover the bald places, it remained coarse and greasy until this past spring. When her winter coat finally shed, she turned out to be a most gorgeous palomino, regaining softness and sheen she probably hadn't had in a while.
It was apparent from the start that Goldie had been well brought up and well treated earlier in her life. Her manners are perfect and she returns affection in a quiet and regal way. Her past may have included the show ring. When she was brought into the arena during an ERL Open House, her head went up, ears forward, neck arched, and she knows how to prance! Her performance earned her the new nickname " the Gold One".
Goldie though well into her 30's still surprises everyone with her upbeat attitude and sense of humor. When a new volunteer arrives at the farm, Goldie is often the first horse that person learns to lead. She walks quietly until her "leader" gets out of position. Then, she simply stops. Not another step until the volunteer is once again next to her left shoulder. On the other hand a "know it all" can be the subject of pranks. The Gold ONe does not tolerate "attitude" or poor manners. And, if any horse can understand English, Goldie must be the one. When someone says anything that might be taken as impolite, she has a sideways glance that can only be interpreted one way (even though Goldie would never return an insult).
Goldie has been at the Equine Rescue League just a little over a year. The staff and volunteers feel blessed at being given the opportunity to know her. Does her previous owner have any idea what he gave up on? Would he even recognize Goldie today?
Goldie's rescue and rehabilitation was made possible by the contributions of funds and through the blood, sweat and tears of caring ERL supporters. Sometimes rescue work can be disheartening. At times it seems there is a never-ending waiting list of horses in need. Some animals cannot be saved despite heroic efforts. But Cecily's Gold has been an inspiration. How could any human give up when she could not?
SHE'S GOLDEN NOW...
On Friday, June 26, 1998, ERL said goodbye to a very dear friend and lost a source of endless inspiration. Cecily's Gold, "Goldie" to most people, was almost 40 years old and will long be remembered by everyone who visited Churchland Farm during her two year stay. We felt most honored to know her. We provided food, water, shelter and love, and The Gold One gave so much more in return. She taught us lessons in determination, patience, dignity, discipline, grace, compassion and, most of all, love.
"She's Golden Now"
We called her "Goldie" but as we knew her better, that seemed too mundane. Her name became "The Gold One," more of a title really. In the animal kingdom, there are individuals that are respected and revered by all the others. We feel Gold One was one of those looked up to and admired by all- animals and humans alike. There was an unexplanable feeling of being in the presence of greatness. Gold One left this world surrounded by her friends; admirers who didn't care that her brilliant Palomino coat had begun to fade. What we saw was the soft glow in her eyes as she surveyed the family circled around her. Gold One went on her way as she had lived; Peacefully, gracefully, and with great regal dignity. We'll tremendously miss her earthly presence, but will carry her spirit with us always.
She's Golden now....
The selling of Cecilys Gold was in violation of PA Law, Title 18, 5511(d). It was stories such as hers and witnessing horses like her at New Holland that launched the EPN on the effort to have the laws enforced and the owners who failed to provide necessary food, water, and veterinary care, and then who attempted to profit from their crime by selling the horse at auction brought to justice.
In September 1999 all of our hard work paid off when the PA State Police enforced the law at the New Holland Sales Stables. It took three years of documenting and filing complaints. If you have seen horses such as Cecily's Gold being sold at auction, or in someone's backyard, what are you doing to have the situation investigated???
PA's Title 18, 5511(d)
(d) Selling or using disabled horse.--A person commits a summary offense if he offers for sale or sells any horse, which by reason of debility, disease or lameness, or for other cause, could not be worked or used without violating the laws against cruelty to animals, or leads, rides, drives or transports any such horse for any purpose, except that of conveying the horse to the nearest available appropriate facility for its humane keeping or destruction or for medical or surgical treatment.
What should you do if you witness a suspected violation of these laws?
First before you attend an auction research the state cruelty laws to see if their is a law prohibiting the sale of disabled horses. Print out a copy of the statute. Determine what law enforcement agency has jurisdiction over the auction. Bring the law enforcement agency's contact information with you, or program into your cell phone.
Sadly we all know that it is not easy to have the laws at auctions enforced. If there is a law against the selling of sick, lame, and debilitated horses, YOU can have the law enforced even if law enforcement is unwilling to respond to the auction or fails to take action at the auction.
Purchase the horse, gather the evidence and then present it the chief law enforcement officer of the County or Parish, the District Attorney. Make sure you retain copies of all the evidence collected. If the District Attorney or other law enforcement officer fails to take action in a case that is clearly in violation, (anytime a horse dies or has to be put down it is a no brainer!) then take the evidence to the media and to the Internet.
A horse with a broken leg, a foundered horse, a colicing horse, a horse three or less on the Henneke and sick horses with fevers are all violations. Sick horses may also be in violation of Department of Agriculture Regulations. Check with your Department of Agriculture before attending a sale to know what diseases require reporting to officials.
A good rule of thumb is that if the average person who knows nothing about horses is able to tell that the horse is lame, in pain, or sick then that is a case that definitley needs to be brought to the attention of law enforcement.
If you plan on purchasing a horse that is in violation be prepared ahead of time to pay for an emergency call to your veterinarian. The best course of action is to have the horse examined by a veterinarian immediately so as to preserve evidence. The horse can be transported to a vet clinic, for example New Bolton Center in PA is within 45 minutes of New Holland Sales Stables.
Photographs from all sides must be taken to identify the horse and to capture the condition of the horse at the time of sale. Do not do anything to change the horse's appearance before photographs have been taken! Doing so destroys evidence that must be preserved for court.
The horse must have a physical exam to determine why the horse is in this condition. Blood MUST be drawn ASAP. Tests to determine if the horse has any underlying conditions, such as kidney or liver failure, MUST be done. Do NOT let a vet dissuade you from having these tests run as the vet is not the legal expert. A Coggins Test, a fecal, and a dental exam must be done. If necessary x-rays may need to be taken. If the horse has to be euthanised, then a necropsy must be performed to determine the cause of death.
If an organization or individual is serious about making a difference for horses and changing people's behavior, this evidence must be collected. Anything less is allowing the person who neglected/abused this horse to go unpunished.
More on Investigating Cruelty
No enforcement results in the contimnued sale of sick, lame and debilitated horses. Rescues purchasing horses will never hold owners accountable and will never change bad behavior.