It is impossible to predict from one day to the next when we will be asked for our help. Some cases are particularly harrowing.
We had an emergency alert from our animal rights lawyer Aritz Toribio about several horses in Extremadura. The Guardia Civil and a local vet were involved in a horrific case of neglect where the owner was apparently suffering from a mental illness. There were originally seven horses in an appalling state of starvation, two had already died and ARCH was asked to step in and take the remaining five. It would mean a 11-hour trip there and back to the Centre, but the vet thought we should take the chance because the alternative would be certain death for all. There was no rescue centre nearer and having seen graphic pictures (one of which is featured above), we could not refuse.
When our transport arrived the scene was horrific, with another horse just dying. The police had to bring in reinforcements to deal with the owner and the remaining four were loaded. We had a nail-biting wait to see whether they would survive the long journey. The three mares and a gelding arrived on Saturday in darkness near midnight, weak and exhausted.
All four were in very poor condition with staring coats, prominent ribs, and distended bellies. Two were suffering from diarrhoea, one is blind in one eye, and another had blood in her urine. Blood tests were taken to determine the veterinary treatment required. They were fed hay, very little and often until their stomachs could take larger amounts of food. In cases such as these it is always touch and go for the first ten days or so.
Thankfully after a couple of weeks all four are doing well, though it is still too early to be certain. They are now having a normal diet and have been wormed (very necessary). They are also calm and settled. And they now have names. Tormenta and Fuego are in worse condition than Cascada and Tierra (who provisionally have foster homes to go to when we feel they are ready to leave ARCH). All will continue to benefit from our special brand of loving care and we are hopeful that they will go on to new lives some time in the New Year.
A Facebook appeal raised an amazing amount of funds towards their care and treatment. A heartfelt thank you to all those who were generous enough to donate at what is always a very demanding time of year.