Friday, November 1, 2013

Blind PMU Mare Gets Second Chance and Help from Service Goats

Love in the pasture, Bridget and her service goats

There are a million stories of courage and compassion, faith and hope and unthinkable cruelty involving animals told daily across the globe.

Every now and again, one truly remarkable story turns up in your backyard.

Like Bridget, the old grey lady. who wandered out of her pasture one day.

I dropped by the Adams County SPCA in Gettysburg last weekend to deliver some animal costumes for Halloween pictures. The shelter director, Abigail Avery, told me they were looking for a home for a senior horse they had taken in a few weeks earlier.

But there is an unusual condition being placed on her adoption: the new family had to take her seeing-eye goats too.

Bridget is one of those saddest of animals who started out life in a cruel situation and then had to be rescued not once, but twice.

First she was "rescued" from the infamous New Holland livestock auction. She had been shipped there after being used as what is known as a "PMU mare" for 18 years.

These are female horses, or mares kept pregnant, whose urine is harvested for Premarin, (PREgnant Mares urINE) a popular hormone replacement therapy for women.

As "production livestock" these horses are notoriously poorly cared for and the mares - and foals when they are born - are expendable, often bound for slaughter.

Bridget, a draft-cross who is a stunning red/grey roan color, had an untreated eye infection that left her totally blind.

After living with an area woman for some years, Bridget, estimated to be about 23 years old, was dumped on the woman's disabled and elderly mother after the woman moved out of town.

Several weeks ago, Bridget somehow escaped her field and was found as a stray, wandering the streets around Gettysburg.

Imagine being blind and aged and roaming the streets.

Bridget was brought to our local shelter, which has a beautiful barn out back to house horses and other farm animals who are victims of cruelty and neglect. But she was very unhappy alone in her stall, circling and bumping into the sides, said Avery.

A few days later the humane officer returned to the property where Bridget had been and removed four goats who had been in the pasture with her. When the trailer pulled into the shelter driveway with the goats in tow Bridget perked up and began nickering.

She had clearly smelled a familiar odor. Her friends had arrived.

The staff put Bridget in the field with the goats and she was a different horse, Avery said, clearly more at ease and reunited with her friends.

The two female goats were placed in new homes, but the male goats, Jake and Bubba, her special friends, will go where she goes, Avery said.

After my visit I went out back to see Bridget. She walked out of her run-in shed and toward the fence where I was standing when she heard my voice, maneuvering around a tree as she came toward me.

The goats jumped up from the hay pile where they were sunning to share a piece of the apple I brought.

"Bridget needs to go with them," shelter staff member Sandy Arentz told me. "They are her eyes and she is really lost without them."

1 comment:

  1. We have a blind POA whos pasturemate is a Thoroughbred. Ozzie is lost without Jagger. It is amazing how the sighted animals take care of the blind ones. Nature is very beautiful!