Thank you to Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal and Bureau Director Nancy McBrady for traveling to the River Road Farm and meeting some of the horses undergoing rehabilitation from owner-inflicted abuse and neglect. Pictured here with Dusty, Commissioner Beal and Bureau Director McBrady were joined by several MSSPA directors and its legislative delegation in a conversation about strengthening the long-standing relationship between Maine’s largest executive branch department and New England’s premier horse shelter. Among its numerous responsibilities, DACF operates Maine’s Animal Welfare Program, which is tasked with enforcement of Maine’s animal welfare laws. MSSPA does not charge the DACF for the any of rehabilitative or re-homing services provided to seized horses brought to the shelter.
On the gorgeous August afternoon, joined by MSSPA’s management team, the group toured through the licensed animal shelter’s barns and turnouts. “Tonka,” a handsome American Warmblood, in the Society’s rehabilitation program since November of 2018 was introduced and the sad details of his past were recounted by the Society’s Barn Manager Jeff Greenleaf. The horse was removed from his abusive owner and brought to the MSSPA. Since then, Tonka’s condition has slowly improved as the organization has addressed his many issues caused by extreme neglect, including malnutrition, a long-standing and untreated respiratory infection, rotting hooves, and heavy load of internal parasites. He is a friendly fellow who has recovered a will to live and enthusiastically greeted the visitors.
In the bright sunshine of a clean, comfortable turnout paddock the group was introduced to “Dexter,” a flea bit grey gelding whose untrimmed hooves produced crippling, painful damage for more than two years before the horse was rescued and brought to the shelter. MSSPA staff displayed shocking photos of Dexter taken at the time of his arrival at MSSPA and discussed the likely course of ongoing treatment for the horse. Despite suffering untold amounts of pain, Dexter is a handsome, gentle horse who holds no grudge against people.
Following the walk about of the farm, Commissioner Beal, Ms. McBrady, and the other visitors gathered in the Keddy-Goodreau arena building to discuss matters of mutual interest. As a special treat, MSSPA staff showed photos of “Dusty,” a spectacular grulla gelding, at the time of his arrival at the shelter; then Dusty performed under saddle in the indoor training arena. The contrast between his condition at the time of admission and his presentation in the arena was breathtaking.
The visit marked the first time in the organization’s nearly 150 year history that a Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry personally met with the MSSPA volunteers, including incarcerated women from the Southern Maine Women’s Re-entry Center, staff, and horses. The Society’s directors and management team look forward to working with Commissioner Beal and the department she leads to protect and care for Maine’s abused horses.