Laura Bonar and Lisa Jennings
Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) came to the New Mexico Community Foundation (NMCF) in 2009 with a problem: horses and other equines were suffering in every corner of the state, and there were very few resources for relief.
Despite a hardworking group of New Mexico horse rescue organizations that collectively shelter from 250-350 equines at any given time, these groups were struggling because they rely only on private contributions to care for every abandoned, abused and neglected horse they take in. Horses that go to shelters typically come from individuals and families who had cared for their horses for years but had no help to weather a temporary loss of income, even as hay prices climbed.
Though it was somewhat unusual to set up a fund in the community foundation specifically to serve animals, NMCF knew the deep connection between the health and safety of animals and the health of our communities. NMCF enthusiastically agreed to partner with APNM to create the Equine Protection Fund to provide help for horses, donkeys, and mules. (Please visit www.helpourhorses.org to make a gift and see photos and video of our clients.)
Now, thanks to the partnership between NMCF and APNM, the Equine Fund’s programs offer a whole set of services previously unavailable anywhere in New Mexico:
- Emergency Feed Assistance, providing up to two months of hay and other feed in cases of temporary financial difficulty
- Gelding Assistance, curtailing irresponsible breeding of horses through vouchers and clinics for sterilization of stallions and colts
- Trail’s End (humane euthanasia support), providing support and removing obstacles for humane end-of-life care for suffering horses
- Veterinary Care Support, ensuring immediate veterinary attention for equines seized by or relinquished to law-enforcement agencies in cruelty investigations
To date, APNM and NMCF have helped over 450 horses through the Equine Protection Fund, providing support to families in need as well as individuals and organizations on the front lines of helping horses in our state. The fund is poised to grow in response to the hard times facing horses.
Of course, horses are not the only kind of animal whose welfare is on the minds of New Mexicans. The public is increasingly and rightfully concerned about the humane treatment of all animals, both because of our growing understanding of their needs and unique qualities and because of our responsibility to be merciful stewards of all those who rely on us for their well-being. We are becoming increasingly aware of how the humane treatment of animals is inextricably linked to the overall health and wellness of our communities. A stark example of this illumination is the story of chimpanzees in biomedical research labs in the United States. New Mexico has been involved in numerous chapters of this dark saga.
Many New Mexicans have personal accounts of chimpanzees on Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, from the days when chimps were used for testing prior to manned space flight, to the largest captive colony of chimpanzees in the world, held by the infamous Dr. Frederick Coulston, to the public outcry to end cruel, ineffective invasive tests on chimps.
Passionate volunteers, community leaders, Attorney General Gary King, many current members of Congress and in particular Sen. Tom Udall have worked for years to protect from any further testing the nearly 200 mostly elderly, sick chimpanzees still in Alamogordo. Finally, we are witnessing the end of the use of chimpanzees in research across the United States and the promise of hope for these long-suffering individuals.
Just a few final barriers remain before chimpanzees like 56-year-old Flo, a survivor of long, difficult years in invasive biomedical research, can experience the peace and dignity of sanctuary. Significant private funds will be required to ensure federal support to care for these chimps in sanctuary, where they can have a chance at healing from the many physical and psychological traumas they experienced as lab subjects.
Once again APNM has reached out to the NMCF to create a national Chimpanzee Sanctuary Fund that will help secure sanctuary for hundreds of chimpanzees—the last ones who will ever be born, bred, and sold into invasive research labs.
APNM is enormously proud to announce this new partnership that further strengthens New Mexico’s commitment to compassionate solutions. The public believes the chimps deserve it, they believe our horses deserve it; indeed, all animals deserve it.
Throughout its history the NMCF has demonstrated its focus on effective solutions that are informed by the caring communities they serve. APNM shares this guiding principle and is honored to work with the NMCF as we both invest in strengthening our communities through the power of collaboration, leadership, compassion and philanthropy.
Laura Bonar is program director and Lisa Jennings is executive director of Animal Protection of New Mexico, which has been working to ensure animals matter in every New Mexican community since 1979.