WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States announced that it will open a new 1,120-acre horse sanctuary and rescue facility in Douglas County, Ore. — the organization's fourth major animal care facility. The Duchess Sanctuary, the facility's new name, is made possible thanks to a $3.5 million donation from the Roberts Foundation, the Ark Watch Foundation and its founder Celine Myers. Named in honor of the first horse owned by Celine Myers' family and after Black Beauty's mother in Anna Sewell's famous story, The Duchess Sanctuary will be a sister facility to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch located in Murchison, Texas, a 1,300-acre ranch operated by The HSUS and The Fund for Animals.
"The Humane Society of the United States is thrilled to add an extraordinary property to its network of animal-care operations," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "Abused, abandoned and homeless horses will have a safe place at The Duchess Sanctuary, and we could not be more grateful to the Roberts Foundation and the Ark Watch Foundation for supporting this tremendously important and much-needed home for horses."
The Duchess Sanctuary, located south of Eugene, consists of diverse terrain of forest and pasture, and will be managed for horses and for the native wildlife that live on the property.
The first equine residents of the sanctuary will come from The Ark Watch Foundation. Saved from the PMU (pregnant mares' urine) industry, many of the older mares spent 6 months of the year for 20 years attached to urine collection devices in stalls where they could not even turn around. These mares were kept pregnant so their urine could be used to produce Premarin®, commonly prescribed for estrogen replacement therapy to relieve hormonal deficiency symptoms associated with menopause or hysterectomy.
"Collectively, the Ark Watch Foundation's rescued mares spent nearly 500 years on the PMU lines and delivered almost 1,000 foals. Many of those foals and any mares that outlived their usefulness were sent to slaughter," said Celine Myers, president of the Ark Watch Foundation. "We rescued our large family of draft mares literally 15 minutes before they were to be loaded onto trucks and sent to an auction near the former Cavel slaughter plant in Illinois where, according to the auction manager, they would be sold by the pound. Most of the mares were pregnant and just 10 weeks away from giving birth. After all these horses have been through, we are thrilled this family group will be able to live out their lives together at The Duchess Sanctuary. We are proud to have had the opportunity to partner with HSUS and extend our gratitude to Wayne Pacelle, The HSUS Board and most especially Katherine Liscomb for their dedication and commitment to the project."
"These former PMU mares and many other abused horses will find a safe haven at the sanctuary," said Katherine Liscomb, vice president for direct care operations for The HSUS. "Our goal is to adopt policies to protect horses and to promote personal responsibility for the care of horses so that animals do not come into a distressed circumstance in the first place. But where that occurs, we will have capacity to help these creatures and provide them a home."
The HSUS operates an Equine Protection department from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. In addition to the horse sanctuaries in Oregon and Texas, The HSUS works at the state and federal level to promote policies to protect horses from slaughter, soring and racing-industry abuses. Recently, The HSUS published a guide to humane horse care, and is in the second year of a wild horse contraception program funded by the Annenberg Foundation, in tandem with the Bureau of Land Management. The HSUS is working with partners at the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the Homes for Horses Coalition to develop standards of accreditation for equine rescue facilities.
Scott Beckstead will serve as director of operations for the facility and Jennifer Kunz will serve as ranch manager. Former Mayor of Waldport, Ore., Scott is a nationally-renowned expert in the field of animal law and has run a foster care network and sanctuary for horses. Jennifer Kunz has spent the past decade working to rescue horses in need, facilitating the placement of more than 1,000 PMU mares and foals. For the past three and a half years, Jennifer managed Knightsbridge Farm Draft Horse Sanctuary in Alberta, Canada.
At the Duchess Sanctuary and the Black Beauty Ranch, The HSUS will care for hundreds of horses, burros and other equines rescued from abuse, homelessness or other dire circumstances. The group also operates two wildlife centers in Cape Cod, Mass., and San Diego, Calif., where injured and orphaned wildlife receive round-the-clock medical care. Collectively, these facilities make The HSUS and its family of organizations one of the largest provider of animal care in the nation.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.
The Ark Watch Foundation, founded in 2005, is a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized for the purpose of engaging in charitable and educational activities. The foundation's mission is to improve the welfare of animals in need within the U.S. and Canada. The Ark Watch Foundation has overseen Knightsbridge Farm, a safe refuge in Alberta for horses rescued from the PMU (pregnant mare urine) industry that would otherwise have been sent to slaughter.