I won't forget, Theo

This month we are giving 10% of our stores sales to a non-profit called "Don't Forget Us, Pet Us". They are an animal rescue/sanctuary in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. They often write about their animals on their Facebook page, and some of theses stories are heart wrenching. I asked them if I could share one of the stories here on my blog so that you could see a small glimpse into what they do every single day. This is only one story, there are countless more. The woman who wrote it wanted me to credit the sanctuary for writing it instead of herself, so that is what I will do.

I often wonder what your trade in value was that day? I suspect not much at all, yet it cost you your life....

This post is over due. My delay has been to figure out how I can write about him without being angry, I don’t want to be angry when I write about him.

After a week of ponder I realized it’s not possible yet, but after many awake at night thinking about it thoughts, I did come to the conclusion I may not be able to write about him BUT I could write TO him. And if your wondering why I must at all? Because I promised him we would never, ever forget.

Dear Theo, It’s been a busy 3 years since you came into our lives. Although your stay was just three days you had an incredible impact on my life. As promised we continue to advocate for horses in need, continue to educate regarding horse slaughter and every chance I get I share your journey. I share that you were deliberately bred by a Breeder and registered with the America Quarter Horse Association. Just like a dog registered with the AKC, you had some fancy paperwork. You started showing very young like many QH’s do. You won lots of ribbons and points. Eventually you were sold to a woman in CT. You continued to show until you started showing signs of arthritis. Your owner loved you and was able to keep you comfortable and rideable with meds until one day you fell while being lunged.

After that despite many attempts she could not keep you sound for riding. You required medication just to keep you comfortable as a pasture pet. But, she wanted to still show, could not afford two so you were brought to a sale barn in CT and traded in.

In her defense she was led to believe you were going to be a pasture pet or companion. Though, There aren’t many takers out there for must have daily medication to be comfortable just to stand around and eat horses. You were just 11 years old.

I often wonder what your trade in value was that day? I suspect not much at all, yet it cost you your life.

After being traded in you were shipped to an auction in NJ. Gosh Theo, I often think what was going through your head. A once not that long ago pampered show horse now sitting at a high kill auction. You sweet boy were purchased by a horse dealer. You Theo were going to be sold for slaughter BUT you had recently been on medications and that saved you that day. I believe it’s 180 days off meds before you can be “processed” for your meat.. When I tell people we transport our U.S. horses out of our country to be killed so they can be eaten in other countries they are shocked!!!! You then had to transport back to New England and for two months you were a mere 20 minutes from us...we just didn’t know.

Despite your remarkable pain and discomfort from your severe arthritis and prior injury you were taken off all your medications and put in a field to wait out your 180 day death row sentence.

About 60 days into your sentence we saw you. Skin, bones, atrophied, and walking on three legs. Oh Theo, I knew the minute I saw you we couldn’t fix you, but I also knew we couldn’t leave you. I told you not to worry, to hold you head up high because you my dear boy you were NOT going to go to slaughter, no, we were bringing you home to die.

I can say with certainty that no other person or animal has touched me in 3 days like you did. We immediately medicated you for pain though very little improvement, you were hungry and you ate and ate and ate and although normally I wouldn’t allow that, knowing these were your last days you wore the king of the barn crown and did whatever you wanted. One thing I noticed the most is how you loved children.

Wait..I almost forgot to tell you I was quickly able to find your previous owner in CT who had traded you in. I also sent her the pics and she immediately told me that at the time of your trade in a little over two months ago you were 1150 lbs and looked nothing like the pics I sent to her. She sent me pics of you. You looked amazing!!! What a beautiful show horse you had been. She confirmed that you had a love of children and proceeded to say I should probably euthanize you,

I thought maybe she would want to come see you but she didn’t. So I let other people come. Amazing, they loved you so much and never knew you people who shed their tears and told you how special you were.

Speaking of tears Theo. I’m sorry you spent your last three days soaking up mine. . I’d never brought an animal home to die, there was a kind of hurt in my heart I had never experienced before and it just poured out my eyes.

A few hours before your euthanasia on your 3rd and last day a group of girls from a 4-H group came to see you. They loved on you, groomed you. I knew you’d love that Theo!!! I could tell you knew you mattered again and it mattered to me that you have that before you had to go. So sad to me that that was the greatest gift I could give you....I wanted to give you so much more, I wanted to give you your life back. But a few hours later the vet confirmed that there was nothing we could do to fix you, no meds that could control your amount of pain long term and the kindest thing we could is end your suffering and with your head held high...,,you peacefully crossed the rainbow bridge.

I had made a few promises to you before you went. One, that we would help the next horse that came along and I would make every effort to give them the life I wanted to give you. It didn’t take long...less than two weeks after you passed I got a call about a horse who had been donated to a feast and in horrible condition. We named him Olaf....

Secondly, You changed my mindset about quite a few things but ultimately Theo you taught me how important it is intercept horses before they get to dealers, auctions, meat brokers, kill pens etc.. I promised to help horses in our own “backyard” before they end up in the slaughter pipeline. Since your passing we have welcomed Olaf, Ash, Zoe, Buster, Dunk, Wally, Styx, Nellie and Merry.

Thirdly, educate!! Every chance I get Theo I do just that! The American Quarter Horse Association references that processing” aka transporting out of the country to be slaughtered is a “humane euthanasia alternative”. Did you know in Mexico horses are stabbed along their neck and spine with Puntilla knives until they are paralyzed so they don’t hurt the people that are hanging them upside down and slitting their throats.

There is nothing humane about horse slaughter. I will argue that till the cows come home. Theo, YOU are a Registered Quarter Horse, your breed dominates the kill pens more than any other breed. The abuse, suffering and neglect begins well before you are “processed” You are a poster child for that. I tell your story and show your pictures and ask is this humane????

Before I go any further I want you to know I found your mom. Your human mom, the one who bred you, named you, registered and raised you. I thought she’d want to know... it took months after your passing but I did communicate with her. When I told her your Registered name “Eye Like It Zipped”, she couldn’t remember you and asked me who your Dam was on your papers. She said she had bred so many she couldn’t remember you.

Theo My last promise to you and I promised it well before I contacted your breeder (I will never refer to her as your mom again) that even though we only knew you for 3 days you will NEVER, EVER be forgotten. Promise kept Theo, we love and miss you terribly.

I hope Olaf found you up in Heaven...

-Don't Forget Us, Pet Us

For those of you who own horses, please educate yourself on horse slaughter before you rehome a horse. I, unknowingly, almost put one of my beloved horses in this situation. A beautiful, 9 year old thoroughbred who was just too much horse for me. He needed a more experienced rider than myself. It wasn't fair to him to keep him as a pasture pet, he was too young and wanted to be ridden. I was more concerned about him getting a good home than I was about selling him for a good price, so I made mistake number one...thinking that giving him away was a good idea. Horses are sold to slaughter by the pound, so if you give a horse away, or sell it for less than $1000, it sends out a red flag to all of the horse dealers out there. They will trick you into thinking your horse is going to a good home, then turn around and sell him for slaughter. Luckily a friend informed me that this was a bad idea in time. Mistake number two was almost giving him to a local sales stable (the same one that Theo was at) that said they could find him a good home. Turns out they have quite the reputation for sending their horses to high kill auctions as well. The people that referred me to them did not know this. Once again, my friend intervened in time. I ended up keeping that horse for a lot longer than I initially anticipated, but I feel like I saved his life in doing so. I finally found him the perfect home. He has an owner who loves him and wanted a challenging horse. A trusted friend vouched for her and ensured me that he will be safe with this woman. It was more work to do it this way, but I can go to sleep at night knowing that he is safe. Don't turn a blind eye and take the easy route. Horses that go to kill auctions die a horrible death, read up on it...it's horrifying. Do the work and make sure your furry friend ends up in the right hands.

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