Disclaimer: this is a bit of a long post, so it’s broken up into three parts. This is the first of the three parts.
LOU DILLON RESCUE: Part 1 of 3
The story of Lou Dillon and Sweet Pea started on February 15th, when we received an e-mail from an LAPD officer requesting a home for a Thoroughbred gelding that she and another officer had helped rescue from Watts. The entire story of Lou Dillon’s rescue, however, had started a few weeks before.
It was pouring rain that day- a deluge, even by California’s standards. Rain was coming down in sheets as the frightened bay Thoroughbred was reported running down the streets of Watts in L.A. He was hundreds of pounds underweight, with wire wrapped around his neck. As he raced, frightened through the streets, people threw trash and other objects at him, and some chased him- not to catch him, but to purposefully scare him. He dodged the cars that were obviously not expecting to see a horse running around in the streets, and was almost was hit by oncoming traffic. Finally, a kind neighbor was able to corral him into their front yard and called the police. When the officers arrived, the neighbor had fashioned a type of halter out of some rope, and put a trashbag over him as a sort of quasi-blanket from the pouring rain.
Although there are definitely horses in areas of L.A., Watts is not zoned for horses, so there was no way to tell where he came from. The officers surmised that he somehow managed to break out of someone’s backyard where they were keeping him. There are no stables close by where the officers could walk the horse, so they had to wait for much of the day in the pouring rain for the shelter to come with a trailer to pick him up and take him to the Baldwin Park Animal Shelter.
They named him Lou Dillon, after the street he was found on.
No one came to claim him, and after a few weeks, the shelter had to find a rescue to take him. Unfortunately, even though the volunteers at the shelter and the LAPD officers who found him tried contacting some more local shelters, they were unable to help.
At his point is where Hanaeleh came in. We received an e-mail from one of the officers, as well as from the shelter volunteer telling us a little bit about Lou Dillon’s rescue. We wanted to take him, but we really didn’t have the finances to take on another horse. We talked about what our options were- we wanted to help him, we wanted to help the officers, but we are a small rescue, and we have to make sure that we are responsible with our resources in order to make sure our current horses are given excellent care. We decided that we would put his story out to our community, asking for help. If we were able to raise the funds we needed for his basic care, we would say yes.
And so we put out a plea on our e-mail and social media pages- and our community responded! Within a few days we had enough money to pay for his vet and farrier care and had monthly sponsors for him! It was amazing to see how people came together to help, and it was so fulfilling to be able to call the officer and volunteer and let them know that we were able to take this poor boy who obviously had been through so much.
After confirming that we would take him, we were given the number of the lieutenant at the shelter, and I called and left a message on Monday, letting her know that we were committed to taking him. I did not receive word back, so I sent a follow-up e-mail as well, and received an auto-reply stating that the lieutenant was out that day. Understandable, I thought, and made a note to call the following day. I called again on Tuesday morning and left a message, but still did not receive word back. I called the shelter directly, but got cut off while on hold. Still, I wasn’t too terribly concerned at that point.
That is, however, until I received word that Lou Dillon was still listed as available on their website. Then, the volunteer at the shelter contacted us, letting us know that they were planning on moving Lou Dillon because no one had committed to taking him, and there was a concern about what would happen to him. I called the lieutenant again later that afternoon, and still did not receive word back, so after school let out, I contacted the shelter again, and finally was put through with a shelter worker there.
I identified myself as the president of Hanaeleh, that we were a horse rescue, and had been contacted by an LAPD officer about Lou Dillon, and would be able to take him.
“Oh,” the shelter worker said, “You’re interested in adopting Lou Dillon.”
“Yes,” I said, “I’m the rescue. We were contacted by the LAPD and wanted to talk with someone about taking him.”
“Yeah, the rescues didn’t come through for him,” the shelter worker said. “He can’t stay.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, my heart sinking. “I’m calling because we can take him. I AM THE RESCUE.”
It took a few more minutes before he seemed to comprehend the situation, and he put me on hold for a minute. He came back and said, “There’s an adoption fee and you have to fill out an adoption application.”
“We are a GFAS-approved rescue in Orange County and have been operating for 15 years, but OK, sure- send it over,” I replied. It was near the end of the day, and I had spent all day teaching, so my patience was a bit thin.
“We can probably have this approved this afternoon,” he assured me.
“OK, great,” I said. “That would be great,” I repeated. I looked out of my classroom and frowned. It was raining again, and I wanted to get out to the ranch before the rain got too bad, but I also knew that it was important to get the application in as soon as possible so they would know that he had a dedicated placement. I would have to wait to leave to go to the barn until the paperwork was completed.
It only took about 10 minutes for it to come through over e-mail, but I spent that entire 10 minutes refreshing the page about every 20 seconds.
It was a long 10 minutes.
I spent most of it stressing myself out over possible failures of this particular rescue. For some reason I felt like I needed to everything within my power to get this particular horse, no matter what. Finally, the application came through, and I filled it out and returned it immediately. I received an e-mail back saying that the lieutenant would get back to me the following day, and I took a proverbial deep breath- there wasn’t anything else I could do that night.
The next day, I was contacted by the lieutenant, and said that we were approved and could pick up Lou Dillon any time. She said that she had to charge at least $50 for his adoption, and I told her I understood. Again, feeling that time was of the essence, I told her I would pick him up the following day.
Later that afternoon, I received a follow-up call from the lieutenant, and another call from one of the volunteers at the shelter. They both reiterated the same message- that there was another horse next to Lou Dillon, a very sweet little bay mare who had immediately bonded with Lou Dillon when he came in. They were immediately in love, they said.
To pull further at my heartstrings, they told her a little of her backstory. She had come in the previous year and was literally starving at that time- she was classified a 1.5 on the Henneke Scale (1 is starving and 5 is ideal). She had been found near the freeway in West Covina with another horse, one who was so thin and in such pain that he was unable to be saved, and had to be euthanized. The little mare had stayed at the shelter because they had prosecuted the owner. That was a little over a year ago, however, and, although she had much of her weight back, it was unlikely that she would ever be adopted.
We really didn’t have enough room for another horse, but we were beginning to get in more donations in for Lou Dillon, and I was certain that it would be enough to also help with the vetting and farrier care of another horse as well. They had bonded, and poor Lou Dillon had been through so much already. Plus, I had a two-horse trailer.
I contemplated the dilemma of getting not one but two horses, even though we didn’t really have much in the way of room.
For anyone who follows Hanaeleh, this is pretty much the same way we got Ulysses- I went to pick up Maggie from the Riverside Animal Shelter, and was asked by a volunteer at the rescue if I would contemplate taking another horse who had just come in. He was scared to death, had been severely abused, and was going to be put down the following day because he was neurological. I thought, “Well, I have a two-horse trailer… and there are two horses…” and thus Ulysses came home to Hanaeleh.
In any case, we had a lot to do in preparation for Lou Dillon… and maybe a friend.