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A New Year’s Message from Equine Advocates

A message from EA President and Founder Susan Wagner:

Dear Friends,

As 2023 draws to a close, I look back at this roller coaster ride of a year that brought us extreme happiness and some sadness as well.

First, I must mention the amazing victory for equines in New York State that we sincerely hope will have a ripple effect across the country. In June, the NYS Legislature passed the best and most stringent anti-horse slaughter bill in the nation that bans the slaughter of horses in, from, and through New York State for both human and animal consumption. Governor Kathy Hochul signed the bill into law on December 13th which was National Horse Day.

Many of you are aware that a federal bill known as the SAFE Act (H.R. 3475) was introduced in the House of Representatives as an amendment to the 2023 Farm Bill earlier this year. However, as currently drafted, it does not fully protect America’s wild and domestic equines from slaughter on a national level in the same way the New York law does for horses in that state. For months, we have been calling for the SAFE Act to be amended to ban the slaughter of horses for animal consumption as well as human consumption. We also want the ban to include intra-state commerce as well as interstate and export. With New York proving that a total ban on horse slaughter can be done, we are urging all Americans who care about this issue to contact the main House sponsor of the SAFE Act, Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, and urge him to amend the SAFE Act to meet the standards of New York’s historic legislation protecting horses from slaughter for both human and animal consumption.

Ginger, a former Amish Buggy Horse, is one of several rescued horses who joined our Equine Advocates family in 2023.

Regarding big news at Equine Advocates, I recently announced our purchase of an additional 33 acres of adjoining farmland to our horse sanctuary here in Chatham, NY. Being able to expand our operation at this same location is something we have wanted to do for years but did not think was possible. Sometimes dreams do come true, and we are excited as we embark on a new adventure in developing and adding important elements to our work that we were prevented from doing before due to a lack of space. This includes the construction of an indoor arena for rehab work, implementing new programs, and having more space for rescued equines. We will be launching a capital campaign in 2024 to raise funding to accomplish those important goals and hope you will join us with your support.

Veterans Day 2023 was memorable as veterans from NY and other states, in addition to some good friends, posed for this group shot with three newly retired U.S. Army Caisson Horses: (From left to right) Randy, King, and Amos.

This year, we welcomed four former U.S. Army Caisson Horses for their permanent retirement at the sanctuary. Luke, Randy, King, and Amos joined retired Caisson Horses Tyler and Sergeant York, who came here in 2021 and 2022 respectively. Being able to provide these deserving equine veterans with forever homes is a tremendous honor for us. We love having them here and consider that to be our special way of thanking them for their service to the country.

On a very sad note, we continue to mourn the untimely passing of Sonya Burke. She and her longtime partner Mannie Ramirez were our very first employees when we established our sanctuary in 2004. Sonya had worked for us for 18 years. She is sorely missed.

We also remember some of our beloved sanctuary residents who passed this year. All were in their twenties and thirties, but that does not make it any easier for those of us who knew and loved them, especially having rescued them from some truly horrific circumstances.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and safe New Year. To our supporters, we thank you for helping us continue to make vital differences in the lives of the many equines in need whom we help and rescue each year.

Best wishes to all of you for a great 2024!

Susan Wagner
President and Founder

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