When an individual wants to donate an unridable or unadoptable horse, whether due to a debilitating irreversible condition for tax purposes or to allay their responsibility to end, in a humane fashion, the life of their now unusable pleasure or work horse, HARPS will not accept the donation.
REASON: If HARPS opens the door to every owner's unusable horse and assumes the medical expenses for its care, (as required by Illinois law) and as humane consideration dictates, we would soon be overwhelmed in terms of both financial obligations and available space. This practice could soon put our organization in financial peril and keep us from honoring our mandate and commitment to seek out and save abused and neglected horses. HARPS will not assist any horse-owner in making fraudulent use or misuse of the tax laws by claiming a tax deduction on an aged, unhealthy, unsound and/or debilitated horse, when that deduction is based on the purchase price of the horse when young and healthy. Horse owners have many responsibilities to their mounts; among these is the responsibility to give them a dignified exit from life when that life has become a source of constant pain and suffering. (see Various Options for Humane Termination). However, there can be extenuating circumstances under which HARPS may intervene, such as those that arise when poverty, illness, and or incapacity has caused a horse owner to become incapable of addressing or dealing with a crisis situation.
Adoptable Donated Animals
Many horse-owners have expressed interest in donation valuable, useable and saleable animals to HARPS, so as to help the organization generate revenue for the ongoing operation of our facility. These owners feel confident in the ability of HARPS to secure suitable homes for their horses, based on our placement and screening policy (including matching adopter's skill level with the animal's temperament and level of training).
Prior to allowing any potential adopter to become an actual adopter of a horse, we send out an investigator to evaluate and approve the potential stabling facility and property. If the investigator finds that the stabling and property meet our standards, there will be a second, on-site inspection of the facilities, combined with an evaluation of the potential adopter's knowledge and genuine concern for the well-being of the animal.
Many horse owners who are ready to relinquish ownership of their animals are reluctant to go through a normal sales process or to sell their horses to a horse dealer/sale barn, as they realize that under those circumstances, they will have no way to guarantee the horse a good home. by donating the horse to HARPS, they can feel more secure about the quality of their horse's life with a new owner, for four reasons:
HARPS can also assure the donor of an animal that the animal's new owner will be selected first on the basis of the ability to provide the animal with circumstances most conductive to its mental health and physical welfare, and only second on the basis of the amount bid or offered for the animal. The highest bid does not necessarily represent the best home, and it is the policy of HARPS to secure the best possible home for the animal.
If the donor wants to secure a tax deduction for the value of the donated animal, it is the obligation of the person donating the horse to arrange to have the horse evaluated and appraised by three reputable trainers/dealers for that purpose. HARPS will not perform appraisals related to tax deductions.
Conflict of Interest
To avoid the appearance of any possible conflict of interest, it is HARPS policy that HARPS Board Members, Advisory Board Members, Investigators, or employees may not adopt any impounded animals/horses.
In the event that an individual from any of the above-mentioned categories chooses to bid on a horse that has been donated to HARPS, that person must follow precisely the same bidding procedure as the general public. In every case of adoption, THE FIRST CONSIDERATION IS THE BEST HOME. THE HIGHEST BID IS A SECONDARY CONSIDERATION, and will be relevant only if there are two or more bidders for a single animal, all offering adoptive homes that are equally suitable.
Various Options for Humane Termination
The following summarized five humane methods of giving a horse a dignified death and their respective costs.
EUTHANASIA AND BURIAL AT HOME:
Vet call: $75 - $150
Burial: $200 - $350
Total: $275 - $500
The most desirable termination of life for a horse would be euthanasia by a veterinarian on the horse's home property. This is not always feasible, given that the process itself and the sight of the remains as well as their removal can be very upsetting to the animals, stable mates and owner. Burial is permitted on personal property as long as it is in compliance with the local zoning requirements. This is a matter that should be discussed with the owner's veterinarian long before the need arises, so that the already upset owner will not have to spend the day before the horse's death investigation local zoning regulations and attempting to secure the service of a backhoe operator.
EUTHANASIA AT HOME AND BODY REMOVED BY RENDERERS:
Approximate vet call: $75 - $150
Renderer cost: $150 - $300
Total: $225 - $450
A licensed rendering service must pick up the remains within 24 hours of death. The body will be taken to a processing and recycling facility.
EUTHANASIA AT HOME AND BURIAL AT PET CEMETARY:
Approximate vet call cost: $75 - $150
Transporting Body: $75 - $300
Cremation or Burial: $500 - $3,000
Total: $650 - $3,450
There are two pet cemeteries in the Chicagoland area that accept horses for burial or cremation, Aarrowood in Mundelein and on in McHenry County.
EUTHANASIA AT A VETERINARY CLINIC OR A UNIVERSITY:
Approximate cost including removal: $300 - $500, transportation to the site extra. There are numerous veterinarian clinics where a horse can be put to sleep and they will arrange for the removal of the body.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES can HARPS condone taking a horse to a slaughter sales facility. The horses will likely be taken to a killer buyer's farm or lot and thrown in with strange horses where the stress can be horrendous. Killer buyers often hold horses for weeks until they accumulate a full load for transportation across the country (Texas or Canada depending on where they can get the most money). This is the most unconscionable and unacceptable treatment to faithful, loving animals that have served their owners well. There are federal laws outlawing the use of double-decker trucks for horses or downed animals; however, even under the "best" of such circumstances, it is truly a tragedy for horses to endure their last few days under such terrifying, stressful conditions.
Four years ago at a HSUS seminar, a representative from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommended that a captive bolt was the most humane method of euthanasia, preferred over drugs. The HSUS has recently changed their policy to adopt the AVMA's guidelines for euthanasia.
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