It wasn't what you would think of as a typical 911 call. A woman who was terrified her horse would drown in the Umpqua River in Oregon called 911 for help. She had been with her horse at the county fairgrounds when her horse spooked and jumped into the fast-moving current of the river. Frantic about her horse, the woman tried to swim after her but couldn't catch up to her. She returned to shore and called for help. This story has a happy ending, since Douglas County Animal Control Deputy Lee Bartholomew responded with a swift water rescue team that, along with several local volunteers, rescued the horse.
Shortly before the dramatic river rescue of the horse escapee, some of her rescuers had taken a large animal rescue training course funded in part with a grant from the ASPCA. Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, an Oregon nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates equines, applied for an ASPCA grant this year to help pay for training of first responders, law enforcement, fire departments and animal control agencies in the rescue of large animals. Because state and county governments have drastically cut the budgets of many first responders, most of these individuals could not have attended the training program absent financial assistance.
Agencies can easily be overwhelmed when dealing with emergencies involving large animals, such as horses. Training responders is much more than providing technical know-how. They must understand the prey behavior of the animals they are trying to rescue and how those frightened trapped or incapacitated animals might react in the emergency situation. These situations can be fraught with danger and responders who have been trained to react to such scenarios are more likely to be able to safely rescue the endangered animal without harm to the humans involved. Funding large animal rescue training is only one example of the ASPCA's grant-making to organizations that want to save more animals but are hindered by a funding obstacle.
For the first half of 2012, the ASPCA has already made 828 grants totaling over $7.6 million. The largest portion ($2.1 million) of these grants has been to fund spay and neuter programs, which is one of the most important ways to end pet homelessness. We've already granted funds this year to organizations in 49 states for numerous worthy purposes, such as providing emergency hay and feed to equines and to the promotion of humane farming. Our robust grant program allows us to help save animals throughout the country, and we are always grateful when our grant recipients let us know how the funds they received from the ASPCA helped save lives.
You can read more about our grants program and how to apply for grants here.