In the state of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Equine Division manages and enforces laws which protect the equine population. Through a variety of circumstances, including neglect and lack of proper care, horses are often picked up and impounded by the Department while owners undergo prosecution.
Unfortunately, no state funds are given to take care of the horses in these situations. Luckily, the Georgia Equine Rescue League (GERL) has devoted its work to raising fund and resources to provide the horses with the care and services they need. For those animals who need the love and care they deserve, the Georgia Equine Rescue League provides the critical financial and logistical support.
GERL was started with just $100 by two women in 1993. But the organization has grown to provide necessary support to the state’s equine population and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
In fact, GERL has provided more than $560,000 in essential outreach and care to these horse rescues. This includes medical care and proper nutrition for the more than 170,000 rescue horses found every year.
Horse lovers can do their part in a variety of ways, including through fostering and adoption. GERL relies on 100% on foster homes to take care of the horses once they are removed from abusive or neglectful environments.
Often, horses that are rescued through the Department of Agriculture are found severely malnourished or starved. Through GERL’s “Feed a Horse” program, funds raised go directly toward providing impounded horses the feed and hay they need to both survive and recuperate.
GERL also offers critical law enforcement training to support the officers who encounter horses in need of rescue. These trainings include the basics of handling horses and signs of cruelty. The classes allow officers to interact with live horses, which gives them the opportunity to practice their demeanor and interactions around equines.
Patty Livingston, President of GERL since 2010, has also developed a five-part plan to go beyond just the essentials of basic horse rescue. These five components include:
- Reduction of reproduction and the promotion of castration
- Prosecution and the promotion of enforcing equine abuse laws
- Disposition and the coordination of horse homes
- Financial services and the need for sustainable funding sources
- Education of the public and law enforcement agencies
Livingston believes that these five areas will greatly-impact the substantial problem in the state.
“I saw the need to diversify our mission due to the overwhelming number of unwanted horses in our state,” she said. “I realized then that we were never going to fix our horse problems by rescuing.”
GERL can be found on social media at both Facebook and Twitter. For even more information on GERL, visit www.gerlltd.org or call their hotline at 770-464-0138.