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August 2012

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Pipe Creek Horse Refuge Comes Under Attack Pipe Creek Horse Refuge Comes Under Attack
By James Henry Frazar, reprinted with permission by The Bandera Bulletin


Brighter Days Horse Refuge in Pipe Creek was cleared by the Bandera County Sheriff's Department last month after an animal activist complained about the facility.

Katherine Trotter, an animal activist for 30 years, said the horses on the 20-acre facility are not getting the veterinary care they need. On the change.org website, Trotter posted an article critical of Brighter Days.

"On June 18th, I and other volunteers went with the Bandera Sheriff's Department to file neglect charges," Trotter posted.

Bandera County Sergeant Shane Merritt and the county's animal control liaison went to facility to investigate. Merritt's assessment of the facility was, "no charges, case closed." He said he checked the majority of the 86 horses on the property and they were "in good condition."

"They are doing the best they can with their horses," Merritt said. "They are trying hard."

He checked with a staff member of a veterinarian who went to the ranch a few days later and the staff member confirmed his analysis.

"It's a refuge situation," Merritt said.

Trotter is not satisfied. She posted on change.org, "There are horses that are foundering so bad they could hardly stand up or walk; they are getting no vet care."

She also wrote on the website that the horses were not getting exercise and "there are way too many animals on 20 acres of unkempt property."

Trotter told the Bulletin that it's "nothing personal."

"We can raise funds for them," Trotter said. "They are not getting the vet care they need."

Trotter was particularly upset when a 30-plus year old mare, Lil Momma, became sick Saturday, June 9, and died Sunday, June 10. She posted a photo of the horse on the website.

"They don't know what they are doing," Trotter said, adding her concern is about the care of the horses. "It's all about the animals."

The refuge has had other concerns this spring. The refuge was closed to visitors for two months when a case of pigeon flu was discovered on the one of the horses.

Pigeon flu occurs during extreme drought conditions and when the fly population increases significantly. It's a bacterial infection that can result in an abscess. The infection is unpredictable, contagious (to other horses) and curable. Only one horse actually contracted the disease, though a few others were suspected, but never confirmed. Workers at the ranch sanitized and removed potentially contaminated material at the ranch.

The ranch was closed to visitors during the first few weeks after the condition was discovered. Later, the ranch was opened to visitors who did not have horses on their property.

As of June 27, the 60-day quarantine was lifted and visitors were welcomed again. So folks can come out Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to visit the horses and feed them properly-sized pieces of apples and carrots.

Pipe Creek Horse Refuge Comes Under Attack

There are also volunteering opportunities at the ranch. The refuge has mainly older horses and horses that are discarded because they can no longer be ridden.

Sheriff's departments, such as Bexar County, bring seized horses to Brighter Days so they can be rehabilitated or at least have a safe place to stay. Brighter Days is a 501(c)3 organization and relies on donations from people who care about animals to pay for hay, feed, vet care, ranch maintenance, and the salaries of the people who care for the horses. If you'd like donate directly to Brighter Days, visit their website at www.brighterdayshorserefuge.org.

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