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Editor’s Desk: When it comes to animal rescue, good intentions not enough

By Robert Saunders, Metro Editor
Officials and shelter workers converged on A&A Farms at Confidence last week to execute a search warrant. More than 100 animals, mostly poultry, were removed from the property. (Photo courtesy of the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association)

The situation that came to a head last week at A&A Farms in Confidence appears to be another case of good intentions gone bad.

Sadly, this happens too often. So-called rescue organizations frequently spring up and make a big splash, only to get a hard reality check a few months later about what it takes in funds and resources to successfully run an animal rescue.

And it’s animals that pay the price for failure.

The urge to start building from the ground up is always there. We get that. Let’s say you have a dream to start the best-ever animal rescue farm (or, in the case of A&A Farms, it was a perceived message from God). Unless you are prepared to make a significant, ongoing monetary investment, you are going to need donations. Registering as a charitable organization is easy enough, but it can take years to build a donor base. And that doesn’t take into account the many hours of hard work involved, and the actual long-term care required for the animals. The effort will take many hours of someone’s time -- yours unless you have a cadre of reliable volunteers lined up.

We agree with Tinia Creamer, founder of Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue. Prompted by last week’s animal seizure in Putnam County, she wrote on her blog:

“But the fact is, rescue isn’t easy. Most fail. Too many fail in an epic way. Rescue works best not in fractions, but as a whole, unified voice. Consistently.You are serving animals far better when you work with an established group than when you decide to spearhead something new.”

Creamer goes on to say that what is needed is less “rescuing” and more volunteering. “I suggest you find a solid rescue in your area and give that established group all you have. You will serve animals in no better way,” she wrote.

Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, by the way, is an example of the right way to help abused and neglected animals. Creamer began the rescue in 2009, and for the first two years it was entirely self-funded. She steadily built a network of support, and today the organization is a haven of support and help for horses in Appalachia.

The two horses from A&A Farms in the worst condition -- including a young “skinny colt” --- were taken in by Heart of Phoenix, which is paying for their medical treatment. Creamer wrote that the horses were “suffering extensive injuries to their legs, dental and lymph issues that could render them lame or very ill for a long time or for good.” She added that the colt’s feet had been neglected until it was stumbling around like it was blind.

Putnam Review salutes the efforts of Heart of Phoenix, and the workers from both the Putnam County Animal Shelter and the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association for their efforts. In this case, officials acted early to prevent more neglect.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from what happened on Red House Hill last week, it’s that good intentions and blind faith are not enough.

Metro Editor Robert Saunders can be reached at


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