TEMECULA – After rescuing 40 abandoned and neglected horses in the last two years, Villa Chardonnay Horses with Wings, a non-profit located in Temecula, is issuing a call for help.
The rescue ranch takes in homeless equines, candidates for a one-way ticket to slaughter houses in Mexico or Canada. In most situations, the horses were abandoned by their original owners who could no longer afford to take care of them due to the economy.
With the recent arrival of three wild mustang orphans, the hoof count is now up to 160 – or 40 horses that need food and veterinary care, which typically adds up to $8,000 per month.
Villa Chardonnay is run and primarily supported by two local businesswomen, Louise Gardner and Monika Kerber, who work full-time to cover the needs of the horses.
“It’s becoming more difficult to find philanthropic funding because of the economy,” said Gardner. “Recently we’ve had to stop taking in horses, though we get calls every day from vets, humane societies, and other ranches looking for homes for abandoned equines.”
The last horse rescued by Villa Chardonnay was a three year-old emaciated filly found tied to a fence in Perris. A homeowner heard about Villa Chardonnay and called them. Gardner and Kerber named her Hope, with all the hope in the world that she would survive and become a resident of Villa Chardonnay.
After working with their vet and a team of helpers for hours, Hope was euthanized 24 hours after she arrived to end her suffering.
“This type of suffering should not be endured by any animal or human,” said Gardner. “She was a victim of the economic times as she was very small and had never received proper nutrition.”
The organization is seeking donations to help cover the costs of rising alfalfa prices, medical bills, grain, farrier fees, dental bills and annual vaccinations. There is also need for a farrier (to trim hooves) and wood shavings for the stalls. Farrier costs run about $1,050 every six to eight weeks.
While most of the horses eat alfalfa, some need more expensive grain because of their advanced years. “We have several that don’t have any teeth left,” Gardner said.
Alfalfa prices have doubled in the past 12 months. What was $9.50 a bale is now $19.75 a bale. California rescues are particularly hard hit with the increase in feed prices since many West Coast farmers have changed their crop to corn for the manufacture of ethanol.
Prices are expected to continue to rise through 2012. Alfalfa and grain cost is about $4,700 a month, with an increase of $2,500 per month more than a year ago. In addition to feed prices, Villa Chardonnay had a difficult run with several horses requiring medical attention this year, including Ziggy who required cancer surgery.
Kerber and Gardner have been rescuing horses for nearly six years. “We are asking all animal lovers to extend a hand, send a tax deductable donation, or sponsor a horse on a monthly basis,” said Gardner.
“We need as much community support as we can muster in addition to our out-of-pocket expenses paid, until we line up grants and other sources of funding. It’s a real shame to see these beautiful horses starving to death, abandoned, and sent to slaughter because their original owners have died or can no longer care for them.”
For more information or to help, visit www.villachardonnay.org.