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Monday, March 21, 2011

Good News from SRF and a Damning Indictment

In light of the current scandal that has enveloped the TRF, the SRF has issued a press release:

The Standardbred Retirement Foundation is assuring its supporters that the management of the mission is in order and their horses well cared for.

Judith Bokman, the Standardbred Retirement Foundation’s (SRF) Executive Trustee, and one of the two founders of the organization shared, “SRF was the first to require that a veterinarian examine and report the condition of every horse it has placed for adoption. This procedure also applies to our horses at boarding facilities, and foster homes. This process is done semi-annually for the life of each SRF horse. If a report is not returned on time, shows inadequate care, or a Veterinarian’s comment strikes a concern we intervene. Our software program can produce pertinent information on every horse we are responsible for.”

“We manage our mission to help Standardbred horses very carefully and want our supporters to know”, explains Paula Campbell, SRF’s founding partner. “When a new horse comes in it is micro-chipped, then the search for an appropriate home begins. Horses generally have numerous adoptive homes as they live into their 30s, and adopters have changes in their lives. Often SRF’s aged horses find themselves back with us and retired at a boarding facility at our expense. It is an endless mission until a horse dies; the costs are astronomical. This is why we have a waiting list for new horses seeking help; we must work within our available funding for today and tomorrow.

"It is a tough mission to manage, and even tougher to fund. There are no regular funding streams, no grants from within the racing industry, no government support, and the number of people who have a heart for a horse is small. SRF has rescued many horses other charities have put in adoptive homes that were left without any follow-up; it has also rescued horses when other charities have gone defunct due to lack of funds.

“Racing is a multi-billion dollar industry and its by-product of tens of thousands of unwanted horses annually was never factored into the business plan. A charity should not be responsible for this. SRF is overwhelmed with the demand to help horses; the waiting list is well over a hundred, and we struggle daily to raise funds. With the recent troubles other organizations are facing at the moment one can only hope that this will spark dramatic change from racing," Mrs. Bokman added.

"But for the moment our benefactors can rest at ease. Unless an adopter or boarding facility goes beyond the boundaries of the law, our horses are safe and accounted for, all our bills are paid to date, and our business is in order.” (SRF)

While Ms. Brokman and Campbell's statement is reassuring to supporters of the SRF, it is a damning indictment of the industry.  As she indicated, where is the funding from the industry (the Meadowlands and Freehold do support)?  Where is the support from the horsemen?  The breeders that produce these animals?  The states who profit from horse racing and racing regulatory agencies?

The problem the SRF is dealing with other responsible horse rescues are dealing with too.  This is why reputable horse rescue groups don't take in every horse that needs to be rescued.  The number of people who donate funds to rescue the horses is a relatively small number; ironically a lot of these donors are just horse lovers, with no connection to harness racing.  The fact the SRF and other legitimate rescues need to make such statements is a pox on our industry and it needs to stop.  Groups who make their living breeding and racing horses have a moral obligation to take care of our horses who no can no longer race. If you are in the industry and do nothing to take care of our unwanted horses, you are part of the problem.

Will you be part of the solution?

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