What We Do
If you are questioning the welfare of a horse(s) the information you will need to have if possible is: address of location of horses, owners names if possible(not necessary, but helps), what county the horses are located in, and be able to give a description of the situation. This can be done anonymously if it's a neighbor, but a report should be filed so that investigators will go investigate.
Standard procedure is if you have filed a complaint/report, a cruelty investigator will go out and investigate. Unless the situation is severe, the owners will be given a period of time to rectify the situation. That might mean...vet exam and report, cleaning up the place, buying hay and grain, providing water, etc. Upon reinspection from investigator if things have not improved or instructions have not been followed from previous inspection, investigators can then go to the judge in the township and request a seize warrant. At that point when warrant is retained that agency will contact a reputable (hopefully) rescue that will assist them in the seizure of the animals. That rescue will take care of the animals seized... from head to hoof. In our case that has sometimes meant surgery. At our facility each horse recieves a complete veternary exam, blood work-up, vaccinations if needed(based on info we try to get), dental care, hoof care, wound and injury first aid, and a nutritional plan. Each horse is different in their care plan.
At this point any charges, etc. must be filed by agency based upon the situation. Hopefully, they have followed legal protocol and have a solid case. It has been our experience that I report monthly to the judge in charge of the case with a detailed report and cost invoice. It is the hope of agency and rescue to receive restitution for the care of the horses. This does not always happen. In our case we often rely on donations, fundraising, etc. to cover costs of arrivals. If we receive restitution it just goes to the next horse(s) that comes to the facility.
We have had cases that have lasted in court two weeks to two years...just depends on the previous owners, and the court system. If the judge removes ownership of horses from the owners that ownership is usually transferred to the rescue assisting in the case.
At our facility, we are never in a hurry. If they need months (or years) to recover they stay here till they are at the point where we can decide if they can safely be rehomed with a safe and loving family. If they do not reach that point...they stay with us. Meadowgate is specifically here for abuse and neglect cases. If we have room we might accept a horse that is healthy but just needs a place to go to because of owners situation.
Many times we have had to deal with difficult and dangerous horses because of their previous lifestyle and treatment. It takes time to heal. Physical injuries are one thing...emotional and mental trauma is another. This is the part that takes the longest to get through sometimes, and usually the most dangerous because of the lack of trust.
Please read through the signs of abuse and neglect and do not be afraid to get involved. Help us stand in the gap for those that cannot stand for themselves. Nothing will change for them until someone makes that call. Call your local humane society, law enforcement, rescue, or vet office. They will all help you or at least tell you who to call.
Signs Of Abuse/Negelect
Thin, bony, or ribby
No food or water
Untreated bleeding or infected wounds
Standing in a sawhorse stance or head hanging down is a sign of pain or despair
Standing in mud, manure, water, ice with no dry spot to go to
Tied and unattended to something
Lying down and can't get up
Horses running loose, thin and eating shrubs, trees, etc.
Sick, coughing, runny nose, congested breathing, diarrhea that is untreated
Harness or saddle sores, whip scars
Unresponsive or extreme fear
If you see any of these please call your nearest cruelty investigator, SPCA, Humane Society or law enforcement.
Nothing will change until the call is made....they will continue to suffer and possibly die.
Part of Meadowgate's vision has been to provide opportunities to youth. That might mean kids at risk and kids that are not. With equine abuse and neglect education the focus, Meadowgate has a couple of different options available.
A mentoring program that is geared for youth at risk. This program provides the opportunity to develop a bond with a horse on a weekly basis. In most cases the hurting child and the hurting horse heal each other...we just provide the opportunity for it to happen.
A case worker/parent attends each session with child and Meadowgate staff. During the hour session, over several weeks equine husbandry is explained and demonstrated. Staff, child, case worker/parent all work together to feed the horse, clean its stall, groom, etc. The pace varies on child, but all is done in a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. It works like a step program and we never hurry. We adjust to the child's situation and move forward as he/she is ready. There is a lot of discussion during this hour...as well as a lot of listening on our part if child needs to talk it out. Each situation is kept private and not publicized in any form.
This is an 8 week program. Child visits once a week. Cost is $50 per week. Payment is required before each session begins if paying weekly or total payment for 8 weeks can be made in advance.
Horses & More Summer Program
This is a fun and very informative program that is run by Meadowgate's Founder Pam Watros.
Pam's desire is to educate before purchasing a horse so that kids can really know the work involved in horse ownership...eliminating a possible abuse/neglect case in the future.
This program is available for groups, summer camps, clubs, homeschoolers, etc. There are two options:
A two hour visit that describes equine abuse & neglect, tour of horses at facility, discussion on horse husbandry, and a short period of time to "give back" and help around the barn. That might be washing feed and water buckets, mucking stalls, picking rocks, etc. Your counselors, parents and/or leaders are monitoring group and working along side of kids as we move along through the two hours.
Cost is $125. Payment required before session begins. Group limited to 25. Everyone must wear closed toed shoes...no flip flops or sandals. Dress for the weather of the day. Bring a refillable water bottle.
A four hour visit includes all of the above in the two hour option as well as wildlife education, basic first aide, and survival skills. There will be an opportunity to practice some of these skills if weather provides. There is a lunch break after two hours, you must bring your own lunch. Everyone must wear closed toed shoes, and dress for the weather of the day. Bring a refillable water bottle.
Cost is $250. Payment must be made before session begins. Group limited to 25.
Horses & More program is available only once school is out of session and until school begins in September.
Arriving at Meadowgate
Since our establishment in 2005, hundreds of horses have crossed our desk in need of help of some sort. We help all that we can. Equine abuse is a large issue, and until recently a silent one.
When a horse arrives at our facility, it is often scared, nervous, worried, injured, and starved. In compliance to state regulations and our husbandry habits, each horse receives a medical exam, farrier work, dental work, vaccinations, Coggins, first aid, and whatever else is needed by the horse. We have often gone into surgery or had surgery performed at the barn. We put a nutritional plan in place and gradually start the horses rehabilitation. The rehabilitation process is individually devised and the time it takes varies. We are never in a hurry. We go at the horses pace. Some horses may stay with us several months and even years before the rehabilitation process is complete. Their progress is evaluated and a decision is made as to whether or not they can be rehomed. The ultimate goal is to have them placed in a secure, safe, and loving home, but that is not always an option for some. For the ones that continue to deal with their issues they stay here securely and safely with Meadowgate. We only have their best interests at heart and if they are better off here with those that can handle their issues... they stay. The mental and emotional trauma some horses have gone through will impact their lives forever. Some tend not to forget what has been done to them. These are the difficult ones to place and we usually keep them till their days here have ended. It is not worth the risk of them not being understood by someone and to end up in a abuse/neglect situation again.
My husband and I decided it was time to get our oldest daughter a horse. The search began. I had grown up with horses, trained and retrained in Texas and knew the work and money involved in owning one. We found an old style quarter horse nearby. We decided with the current owner that we would let our daughter work a few weeks at her place to see if it was gonna be a good match and if our daughter was really interested. Well, she was! And it was definitely a good match! They quickly formed a bond and home he came! While taking her back and forth several times a week I got into a few discussions with the owner of this quarter horse about rescued horses, etc. I found out that there were no rescues in this area of NYS. Which was very surprising to me. Weighing heavy on my mind and feeling that deep stirring in my heart I started researching rescues after talking with my husband about it. I sent letters to every law enforcement agency in NYS, SPCA, and Humane Society inquiring as to how big the need was for an equine rescue facility. I also contacted rescues across the nation to gain information and advice as to what to do and not to do. Based on the response of those letters and information Meadowgate was in the works to actually becoming something!
To become a non-profit 501(c)3 organization required about 3 inches of paperwork to fill out. I was led to a lawyer that specialized in non-profits and when I found out the cost involved...well...wasn't sure how it was going to happen. I didn't have that kind of money. The first sign of confirmation that I was supposed to do this was a lady found out what I wanted to do...without knowing she gave me the exact amount of money needed to start the non-profit status! I sat there not knowing what to say...I ended up saying thank you amongst the tears of joy.
As that process was started I started looking for additional land to house the facility. I worked several months with an older gentleman who kept changing his mind every time we talked. He wanted a lot of money, but there was enough land to grow our own hay, etc. But eventually I gave up with his ever changing ideas and found another parcel that wasn't for sale. It was in a great location, quiet, somewhat hidden, and would offer more than the other, but we would not be able to grow our own hay. I approached the owner of the property. Told him my plans, and asked if he would be willing to sell. He said yes! Okay, now to figure out how to get the money he was asking for. So after a business like discussion with someone about my ideas...they offered to give me the money needed...no strings attached! Again, in utter dismay, shock, and disbelief...another confirmation. The money was joyfully handed over. I worked out an arrangement with the current land owner and had money to build the barn for the horses. Moving forward at a fast pace!
Amongst all this was all agencies had been notified that we were ready to assist at any time they needed us. Horses started coming...I was able to temporarily use family property till our facility was ready. Thankfully! In 2006, we moved 30 horses to facility we use today. At that point we didn't have running water yet, so we hauled in hundreds of gallons of water twice a day. We quickly got that running!
There were many days of disappointment, anger, crying, happiness, etc. as the growing pains of setting up a non-profit happens. It wasn't all easy. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and a few ER visits along the way. But when roadblocks, windstorms, and tornadoes seem to block your path of success, or when people try to discourage you, or talk negatively about what you are doing for whatever their reason is... persevere! Be strong in your mission and see it through!
As of 2018, we have had over 750 horses that needed a place to go to...we are not that big, but we have tried to help in someway every one that we can.
Some advice: Before you get involved with a rescue, check out their background. Not every rescue that claims to be one actually is...yeah there are some disappointing people out there. If they are legit they will be registered as a non-profit with the IRS and hold a 501(c)3 status. If you inquire locally people will tell you if they are any good or not. The local SPCA, or shelter should be able to give you information on their reputation as well as vet offices.
Meadowgate is a registered non-profit, and is also registered with NYS Ag & Market. We have worked with other reputable rescues across the state, as well as SPCA's and Humane Societies in 6 counties. We follow guidelines set by NYS Ag & Market as well as NYS Humane Society. We have a yearly inspection, and have a great rapor with several agencies.
Call your local SPCA or Humane Society today if you suspect a situation occurring. The local law enforcement agency should be able to assist you in pointing you to the right people to contact if you are unsure. If you know of a reputable equine rescue in your area call them...they will know what steps to take.
Remember...life or death...could just require a phone call.