Where does a person go to check if a horse rescue is all they say they are? In the world today, especially with the popularity of social media, it’s sometimes difficult to identify a reputable horse rescue. Most rescues are reputable – filled with wonderful people who spend many hours saving horses from terrible conditions. But there are some poseurs out there that take advantage of good-hearted people.
Hanaeleh recently learned about the District Attorney shutting down two fake horse rescues in Carmel, CA. These imposters raised over $700,000 from unsuspecting donors, supposedly to help rescue horses and to support their veterans program.
Click >>>here<<< to read the story from KSBW8
We believe there is a special place in hell for imposters like these.
Running a rescue takes a lot of hard work, time, and energy. Those of us who run reputable rescues don’t take vacations; we don’t take time off. Our weekends are spent at the barn or hauling horses, and our extra funds are often spent helping out with an exorbitant vet bill. We work hard to ensure that our horses are given exemplary care, and spend sleepless nights thinking about how we can help that one horse who needs a home by tomorrow – or distressing over those horses we could not save. It’s physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, but we do it because we believe it is the right thing to do, and because we can.
It disgusts us when people pose as horse rescuers and demean everything rescues work so hard to create. Each one of these fake rescues makes people more suspicious of rescues in general, making our job just that much more difficult.
One of the most difficult aspects of running a rescue is fundraising; we are constantly working to raise funds to help care for our horses. The money that these fake rescues took from well-intentioned individuals is literally stealing from every reputable horse rescue. This money intended to help horses, instead went to fund these people’s lavish lifestyles!
6 Ways to Identify a Reputable Horse Rescue
The question you are most likely asking yourself is, “How do I know my money is going to a reputable rescue?” This is actually a great question, and one you should always ask before donating money to any organization.
1. Determine Non-profit Organization Status
Being a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue is important for any organization that wants to bring in outside money to help fund the rescue, as the donations can be tax-deductible. Non-profits should be registered with Guidestar and their taxes should be made public for full transparency; you have a right to know where your money is going. For example, you can see Hanaeleh’s Guidestar profile –> HERE.
This is a good first step to ensure that your money is going to an organization, and not merely an individual. Although there are a number of wonderful people who do privately rescue a number of horses using their own money, unless you actually know and trust this person, it is always best to give to a non-profit organization that has posted their financial information.
2. Make sure the Horse Rescue is GFAS Verified or Accredited
The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) is an accreditation agency that has a number of specific guidelines for all animal rescues. This is not an easy process; the application process is extensive. The organization also sends a representative out to inspect the facility and speak to members at the rescue.
Hanaeleh became a verified rescue under GFAS in 2015; although locals and our fans already know us to be an exemplary rescue, we felt that it was important to go through the accreditation process in order to give our donors a greater sense of security that their money would be going to a good cause.
Can a rescue be exemplary without being a GFAS rescue? Yes, they can. That being said, when you see a GFAS verification on the rescue’s website, you know that they have been audited and accredited by an highly-respected, trustworthy 3rd-party.
3. The Horse Rescue Should Be Open to the Public
Some rescues are better set up for public viewing than others, but all rescues should be willing to provide the public the option to come out to see the horses. Whether it be daily, once a week, once a month, or once every few months, a rescue should somehow allow the public to come out and see the horses and the facility in order to see where their donations are having an impact.
Hanaeleh has open houses approximately once a month to allow the public to come out and see our horses; the horses like to see the public, too, so it works both ways.
4. They Should Have Volunteers
There is nothing wrong with a non-profit having paid employees; indeed, one day I hope Hanaeleh will be in a position to hire full-time employees. All board members, however, should be volunteers; a board member should never be a paid employee by the rescue. If a board member wishes to take on a paying position, then s/he should resign his or her position in order to prevent a conflict of interest.
A reputable horse rescue will also have a way to bring in new volunteers, but also to retain its older volunteers. There will always be the need to recruit new volunteers; it is part and parcel of operating rescues to have some volunteers drop off – it’s a difficult job, and we’re not paying them, after all. If you see a rescue who has no consistent volunteers, however, it is probably a good indication that there is either an issue with the treatment of the horses, or with the leadership and management of the organization.
Hanaeleh currently is a 100% volunteer rescue. We recruit volunteers all year round, and we have two programs that allow the public to work with us:
- If an individual wants to come out periodically, they can volunteer for our work days.
- If they want to come out on a regular basis, they can volunteer weekly to work with the horses.
For more info on Hanaeleh’s volunteer programs, click >>>here<<<
5. The Horse Rescue Should Be Part of the Rescue Network
Rescues cannot exist in a vacuum and reputable rescues work with each other to network horses in order to find them loving homes.
A reputable horse rescue should be a part of the greater rescue network, including being a part of organizations such as Petfinder and the Homes for Horses Coalition.
6. Social Media Presence
Not every rescue has volunteers who are tech-savvy, but the rescue should have an online presence, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, a blog, etc. so donors can see updates on the horses as well as any programs offered by the rescue.
If the rescue only has a static webpage with stock photos, it may just mean that the rescue needs to update their webpage, but it may also mean that they are disreputable.
Hanaeleh has pages on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well as a blog (which is what you’re currently reading). We use all of these platforms in order to network horses in need, showcase our current horses, make announcements, educate the public about equine-related issues, and to raise funds. It is one of the many ways we try to promote transparency with our overall mission.
Most Rescues Are Reputable
Please remember that the majority of the rescues in the United States are reputable and its members work very hard to help rescue animals. Rescues such as the aforementioned one in Carmel, CA, get headlines because they are few and far between. Please do not judge all of us because of a few bad apples.
We need you!
We can only help these animals if we receive donations from people like you. In doing so, however, we believe we have an obligation to be as transparent as possible. The best way to determine if your donating to a reputable horse rescue is to volunteer and witness the rescue in action, but if that’s not possible, these 6 tips will help you do your homework to ensure that your donations are going to a trustworthy organization.
Please make a donation today to help us save more horses!
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PLEASE NOTE: PayPal no longer provides street addresses to us unless you say it’s ok when you donate. Hanaeleh’s policy is to never share your info with anyone. It’s also our policy to send handwritten Thank You Notes to all our donors, including YOU! Please provide your street address when donating.