Homeless this Christmas: Animal sanctuary appeals for help to save lives of abandoned horses
An animal sanctuary needs your help to save the lives of 35 horses this Christmas.
Crosskennan Animal Sanctuary in Antrim is now operating at 200% capacity – it is home to 100 horses but only has facilities to cater for 50.
Founder and manager, Lyn Friel said many of the horses arrived at the sanctuary after being abandoned or because their owner is no longer able to look after them.
She warned that if they are not re-homed urgently or if sponsors don't come forward, 35 horses will have to be put down because the charity, which relies on donations and government grants, does not have the funds or space to keep them.
"We are now at crisis point. Never in our 17-year history have we ever put a healthy horse down," said Lyn.
"But now, we can't pay our bills and are running out of space. On top of our normal running costs we now have to pay out £9,000 each month for private boarding for all of the extra horses. We have only three members of staff and the rest are volunteers. I can barely put into words how bad it is here. Unless these horses are re-homed, we will have no other choice but to gradually start putting them down. It makes me feel sick to my stomach to even think about what will happen to these beautiful horses after that.
"When it comes to dogs and cats people seem to fall over themselves to re-home them but this isn't the case for horses for some reason. Every day we get phone calls from people saying they have found horses or ponies running around at the side of the road."
Recently the charity rescued nine horses that were abandoned together in a forest. Usually the horses are micro-chipped but are not registered to any address.
Lyn added: "We have also had three different people returning horses after saying they could re-home them. It is not a problem for the welfare officers or the police unless the animals are actually being mistreated so it is up to us to make sure they are okay. Sometimes there are genuine reasons for horses coming to us. We are currently looking after one horse because his owner was rushed to hospital and is too ill to look after him."
Many of the animals have interesting back stories, including a racehorse that was shipped over from America – aptly named Riches to Rags.
"The horse was registered in the USA and bred for racing but when we found him he was about to be killed for meat. But we worked with him and now we take him to the Balmoral show every year where he excels in the competitions. He also helped rehabilitate Quentin, a little foal we found abandoned on a roundabout up at Junction One."
Lyn explained what the public can do to help: "We desperately need people who can offer responsible homes and who understand the costs involved in caring for a horse or pony to come forward and help us with these lovely animals before it's too late."
The charity's re-homing scheme involves taking on a rescued horse on a permanent loan basis. They have both ridden and companion animals available. While they make no charge they do ask for a donation and would remind potential loaners that a horse or pony requires daily care and can cost around £3,000 per year in basic feed and stabling alone. If people cannot re-home a horse they can still sponsor one, volunteer or donate money to the Sanctuary. For more information log on to www.crosskennanlane.org.uk.