Rescue Journal

there is a personal morality in rescue

Carol  ·  Sep. 10, 2010

that holds us accountable. it has nothing to do with external rules or regulations, or common accepted practice....morality comes from a shared or a uniquely held belief.

so..i have a strongly held personal belief here that is not standard in rescue...

rescue is about taking the homeless and alone and finding them a place to forever belong as part of a loyal and loving family....and that is what all rescuers try to do..this is the common thread thru out all rescue....bring them in, care for them well until you can reach the final goal....the perfect for them, home of their own....and then bring in another and start all over again.

i have done dogs and cats for many years and i am pretty good at seeing inside to find the key to their needs.

the farm guys are new to me...5 years only to see them, to feel them, to try to understand each of their unique needs. i have figured out a couple of important things, like...while dogs crave to bond to a human animals crave to bond to the herd.

for dogs, humans are the all important...for horses and cows and sheep....humans are on the periphery of their worlds..the flock, the herd is the center of their universe and that is how evolution, nature, natural selection has made it to be.

i believe this to be absolutely true..i believe for the farm animals this to be absolutely right in a healthy happy life...i believe that some things are the way they are meant to be despite what i want or wish or think or would find most convenient.

czar and lahanie have been offered a very good home...ten acres to roam on, a safe and warm barn, no expectations for performing anything to fulfill human needs. one of the staff from our farm vets clinic, just lost their 35 yr old horse and are offerring these two a very good forever retirement home of their own. they will still be fed their grain mash every morning and every night, they will still be blanketed and cared for in foul weather, they will still have a close friend to pass thru the days with..they will have everything that they had here with a much larger home to roam around in.

it is a pretty sweet deal..they get a great life together somewhere...we get a bit of a break in the space, cost and work out in the barn areas..and we have room to help maybe one more old, broken down, used up and tossed away, loyal horse on his or her way to slaughter.

except..when i first recognised the true value that these animals placed in the integrity of their herd...i said i would never disrespect this and mess with their herd again.

i have sent off other herd animals...the 3 stooges, merridith, amos..but i did not let them bond with the herd before i sent them off either..i kept them separate because i only took them in to get them out of where they were..we didn`t have room here but i found a way to get them in, keep them separate until their final home came.

i have not done that to lahanie and czar..i have let them build their herd, their family here...i have watched them accept and become accepted as full members of the saints odd and mixed barn yard family.

so now i am conflicted...i feel splitting them off is wrong...i feel it is another betrayal in a life long line of betrayals...i feel i will break the one promise i respect the ties within the herd that they made....and i feel that this is wrong.

but...with all of the staffing issues and the rising costs..with the brutal workload that weighs us all down...with the worry over grass and the worry over money and space...i also feel like this is the perfect solution to make life easier for us...for saints.

and it is not that i am considering sending them somewhere that is less than saints..i am considering somewhere that is probably better than here....but better in what wayÉ (question mark).....if they go..the rest of the herd stays here.

it is not just lahanie and czar who will feel the loss of their family and the fear of the new unknown in another new world...but gideon and the others, especially percy the cow will know that i broke my word and severed the is what humans do every day.

it sucks to believe in something, to think something true and then face an opposite choice that makes life easier when you personally need easier more than anything now.

and so i am struggling...who do i do best for...saints..the herd...the staff and right is my belief in the holy integrity of the herd anyhowÉ (question mark) 5 years enough to see the right in thisÉÉÉ (3 big question marks)

it so sucks to be inside my head thinking about right and wrong.



I just went back and started to read some of these comments. I didn't get past Carol saying that humans aren't arbitarilly picked up and moved to Toronto

Hey my mom was arbitarilly picked up and moved from India to Canada because her husband (who she had just married and didn't know because it was arranged)wanted to be in Canada and she had to move and leave her pack behind. My dad arbitarilly picked my mom up and made those decisions for her. She had to come down by herself at the age of 21 and landed in Vancouver where there was snow. If she had free will she would not have wanted have come because she was very bonded to her pack in India, her parents and siblings. And she was saying "why I am perfectly happy here with my friends". But if she hadn't come she would never have had me and that wou have been very sad... so ripples in the pond... a breaking up of a pack ultimately produced my birth in Canada and I have to say I think Canada is one of the greatest places in the world to live.

PS when my grandfather came out to visit my mom he was horrified to discover she was living in a very small house with no bathroom or running water.

I think that these kinds of situations still happen to humans - just not in this country.


This is why I think you are a phenomenal rescuer, Carol. You TRULY think through the consequences FOR the animals and not in a patronizing "We humans know best" manner. We cannot really know how other animals think but we can certainly extrapolate from our own emotional lives and take a good shot at seeing into their depths. Your questioning and probing is what makes you a wonderful guardian for these animals.

And, Holly, PLEASE, PLEASE do not question your offer to SAINTS. I would have done the exact same thing myself (had I had 10 acres) and I only would have been thinking of the good of the horses...just as you were. I think sometimes we can get hurt by rescues who decide not to let animals go to us but it is NEVER meant that way to those who are truly good homes. It is many other factors that come into play as Carol has discussed. Holly, you are simply WONDERFUL for offering to welcome senior animals to your home and do not second guess yourself about that. There are many senior farm animals who could find bliss with you. I know Farm Sanctuary has a rescue network so that they can find good homes for farm animals they save. Perhaps it might be worth signing up with them?


and that one statement tells me that you have honest insight not only into how they might be feeling but more importantly in how you feel....that would have been another huge plus on the adoption side.

i know some folks think i am nutz..but, if thinking outside of the accepted box and trying to anticipate not only the ripple effect but what the decisions i make actually feels like to live to the animals in my care..then i think better being thought of as nutz, then acting with carefree innocence about the effects of my decisions on them....and on gideon too.

it is not really that i had already decided no... because i hadn't...i was still sitting 50/50 on it...BUT if i had decided it was best to move them..i wanted to be clear in my head thaat whatever pain or unhappiness the intial move actually caused them..would be far outreached by the overall good for not only us, but for them.

this is why i say ethics are fluid..because i can and do things that i don't necessary agree with or don't think is the ideal moral right in my mind...and this is simply because i don't live in an absolutely perfect world here (and neither do they) if i need to go past what i think is the right way.. for everyone's better good...then i am ok cuz i looked at it closely, i saw the pro's and the con's..i weighed the balance against the ideal of herds never being split apart and the reality that sometimes it happens..maybe even at saints if the good out weighs the loss that all of them here will feel....i am realistic...we can only do so much and we don't have all of the space or help or resources we need.

but i do want folks to understand this...while this has a great deal to do with my personal morality of discovering the shades between right and has NOTHING to do with my personal feelings of attachment for czar and lahanie....i have sent many out these doors and gates that i have had a far deeper personal and emotional bond with....this is about trying to decide not only what is best for them and the others here and accepting the full consequences for whatever decision i finally made...i just can't wrap decisions up in cotton candy to make them seem like a perfect fairy tale when i know they are not...not when i know any move i asked of them would be hard for them to live again....even if the uncertainty of a new life and the loss of the herd would soon have gone away.

anyway..moot point...i feel very badly for making you feel uncomfortable and unhappily guilty about a very good and selfless thing you wanted to do...AND i am left unknowing which decision i ultimately would have made too and both of these consequences ARE my fault for struggling about this on the blog.

but this is the reality of making decisions at saints if folks really want to know what the real reality means examining the crap out of hard for me to understand things, and possibly messing the whole thing up thru that process too....BUT none of it taken lightly or without a clear acceptence of the ripple effect on them, on me...and now on holly too.

i wish i saw things more clearly sometimes (lots of folks reading this i bet knew the answer of what they thought was the best thing to do)...but i don't, i am slower, i am more unsure...sometimes i just don't know which way to go and i get stuck at the crossroads while i think things out....i can be a train on a track sometimes..but sometimes i am a turtle too.

ahhh well...such is my rescue life.... and bottom line? lahanie and czar and gideon don't really care about any of my moral/ethical struggles today....all they probably care about at this particular moment is where is their breakfast? and it is wet and raining today.


Carol, It wasnt your fault, I just thought I was helping and instead I started feeling guilty about taking them which is not how I wanted to feel.


thanks for considering them and sorry for my fussing about this...and now i will have to sit down and figure out if i just sabotaged a perfectly good home!

honestly sometimes i just think too much.


I have sent Carol an email and I have decided that everyone seems attached to Czar & Lahanie and I will not take them. Just to clear this up with everyone...I went onto SAINTS' webpage, under both Czar and Lahanie their status' dont say forever at saints like Gideon's does. That is one of the reasons I offered a home to Czar and Lahanie I thought they were up for adoption. I never said I didnt think they were happy at SAINTS I wanted to help out too and I feel with the acerage I have it would be good but like I said above I see the struggle Carol is having and I believe she has made her decision she just doesnt know it yet. I wish you all the best


well why can you not send them out for a trial period and see how ir goes. it may well go super who knows. worth a thought anyway.

Carol is the mo pointed out over dinner tonight....this has never been an issue before one has ever offerred a really good home to our very senior horses.

it may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity for them and for us....

there are so many sides to is like a rubics side is practical, one side is theoretical, one side is ideal, one side is known and real, one side is pure guess work, and one side is simply odd...(that would be my moral thinking side)

hey..the rescue rubics cube! there is a good analogy and symbol for trying to figure everything right and make all the right moves and find all the right answers so everything lines up perfect in the rescue universe.
screw the crystal ball...the cube is more workable IF you can figure it out!


looking back on your comments carol i think you have already made your decision. the horses are happy they have finally found a home where they can be free and themselves hollys home sounds great but i think you would be so miserable that it would hurt you for a long long time. go with what you feel is best for the horses. there are many more animals that could benefit from hollys home.


i can see where carol is coming from they have all that they need there and are happy finally. it all comes down to them havig 10 acres of land for them to roam on and i am not a farm person but even i can see that they are very content in their lives. they finally have some stability and positive and i do not think that having more land to roam on is going to make them any happier. i can also see the other side that carol cannot possibly take on any other animals that may need help i am not sure then that carol is taking them in to find their forever home or to make her place their forever home. i know that it is much different than with dogs or cats and they need to find their forever human being. not so with barn animals. maybe if carol decides to keep them that holly could find 2 other horses that really need a home that can not be too hard. tough decision carol you will know.


i totally agree that all animals will is a basic of survival.

my point is this tho....our knowledge of animals is changing...we are starting to recognise and acknowledge the intelligence of animals, we are starting to accept that animals like humans do have emotional lives. that animals may have relationships that are intrinsic and important in their lives that have nothing at all to do with humans.

if someone arbitrarily picked me up and moved me to toronto because they thought it would be better for me, or cheaper and easier for them....if they took me away from my life, my friends, my life may be odd to the rest of the world..but i do happen to really like it and i do like living at saints...does someone have the right to take that away from me because they think they know better?

and this is why i am conflicted over this...czar and lahanie are perfectly happy here...they are not missing out on anything..good food, nice barn, green fields with grass to eat...sand for a nice rollaround, dedicated volunteers, paid staff...and a herd of animals that they know, that they are emotionally attached to, and are comfortable and are at peace with.

IF lahanie and czar could talk...what would they say if i broached the idea of moving to another home to them??? what would gideon say if i asked him about moving them??? or percy???

i actually know exactly what they would say.

why?...we are happy here with our friends and our life.

what i have to figure out is...can i do it anyway..knowing what i really do believe that i know...because it will be the best thing for me AND for saints and everyone else will adjust absolutely fine, it sounds like a very great home, they will be happy there, gideon wil adjust to their being gone...percy will get over watching them get taken away.

the death thing doesn't factor into this...those barn animals instinctually understand death...what they don't understand is watching their herd mates alive and well being taken away...that does not happen naturally within any herd, unless a male rivalery is in play for leadership, then the winner drives the loser out (and the loser will keep trying to get back in) their experience it is almost ALWAYS human interventions that splits up their herd and their friends.
yes their social structure is different, yes they function differently...BUT is it possible that they feel as we do about their lives, their friends, their families?
is this anthropomorophic thinking? or is it a possibility? i am having trouble deciding.

when i have to make decisions for the animals..i really do try to look at it from their eyes...i think they ended up in rescue in the first place because humans made decisions based on human needs every single when do they ever get a chance to have decisions made for them based on what they would want?

how many times in these horses lives did they get moved? do they feel this is ok, that this is natural, do they agree that it is necessary and even good for them greener pastures on the other side?...or do they just accept it as the lot of a horse's life because that is just how it is loss after loss, move after move, year after predictability, no stability..just whatever this new human decides?

i guess what i am saying is...ethics can sometimes be i willing to be fluid about this or not? that is what i have to decide.


Carol, I don't know anything about farm animals - like absolutely zero. Except I do know that farm animals are mammals just like dogs, cats and us humans. Because of the way our brains are structured, all mammals feel the same basic emotions except we express them in different ways. In my round about way, I think I am trying to say is that possibly you are not giving these farm animals enough credit. We all go through changes. Our packs are always changing (with births, deaths, moves into new neighbourhoods, new friends come into our lives, old friends leave etc) and I believe most mammals adust to these changes. I do believe you when you say farm animals bond more with each other than with humans as they were not bred to bond with us the way dogs were. But I think, like humans and other mammals, they are intelligent enough to adjust to change. It will be harder on some of the animals just like Patrick had a hard time when Bernard left and he though Screech was gone and Oliver didn't really care too much - just my arrogant opinion


I agree with Marla. Winter is fast approaching and that is always an extra tough time at SAINTS. The refief in term of staffing/volunteering issues would be good as well as financially and MY GAWD 10 acres!!!!! THAT IS a step up from SAINTS. So go see for yourself and let that help guide your decision. Herds are not a "stable/permanent" thing--in the wild they are not ment to be. Percy is a big baby and yes he will be upset but he has many many friends to help him through it. Gideon will probably be the one to suffer the most but perhaps he can make friends with the sheep and ziggy and the sad reality is who knows how long he has left ... 35 with only 6 teeth left! This is an opportunity not to pass up I think.


hi holly...see, i am still struggling with this! and now i do not have to call you back cuz you are here!
next weekend is fine for you to come meet lahanie and czar and for me and mo to wander over to your place to see where they might live...we can firm up the time later but it probably needs to be no later than noon cuz we have the big fundraiser on saturday.
i will try to have this sorted out in my head before then..i am thinking on it a lot!


Hi everyone, I am the person with the 10 acres for Czar and Lahanie, I am a veterinary tech. and I adore animals. These two boys will receieve the best care in fact they would be spoiled :)! We want to help senior animals and I have always loved and valued adoption and feel senior animals need homes just as much as young ones. (all my animals here are adopted). I understand the conflict but at the same time they would have a great home here I can promise each of you that. Carol, if you still have worries about it, I can understand! :)


I'm not a horse owner, so I'm probably not in any way, shape or form qualified to comment. AND I don't envy you your decision one bit. I think that Linda poses a very good question: Would they be alone? If so, what happens when one of them dies? And I agree with her - it seems to me to be the only down side to an otherwise wonderful situation. The lessened workload might be good for all of you (at least in my mind!), and Gideon would have that much more individual attention, AND it would allow a space for another animal IN THE FUTURE when staffing and monetary needs are perhaps a bit more stable. Like I said, I don't envy you this decision AT ALL. I also know in my heart that you'll think this through, agonize over it, and in the end make the best decision for all involved.


Thanks, Sheryl, for the link to the post "gideon is pissed at me". I wonder how long he was upset. I also wonder how long the two empty spots at SAINTS would remain empty. Not an easy decision.


I have one thought. Will they be alone together (just the 2 of them)? What will happen when one dies? Will the other one be totally alone then? That is the only negative I can see otherwise it sounds like a wonderful idea.


I think that they should go to the new home and here is why. While horses do love their herd mates, they are very adaptable animals and I don't think that they would be damaged if separated from their herd, besides, they have each other. If you really think about it, wild horses lose herd mates all the time; either to new herds or to death. And these loses must be very stressful on the group as they are probably very traumatic. I think that rehoming one horse on their own isn't right, but two to a new home would help you out and I think that they would be happy too.
Just my two cents as a horse owner!


Whoops! Either scross down to "Gideon is pissed at me" or click below:


I remember the post about how upset Gideon was when the donkeys left:


if "easier" is what your looking for, bringing in new hurting horses isnt going to accomplish that. so, take from the herd to give to the two horses, or take from the two horses to give to the herd? imagine the barn without czar and lahanie, and without adding anyone new. are you comfortable with that? or would you bring in another needy horse (or two), which throws your "staffing issues and rising costs" reasoning out the window. if to just lessen the load, no i wouldnt let them go. to make room for someone new, yes i would. said by a weekend volunteer who has NO farm animal experience whatsoever (i remember my first day when i didnt understand why spritely couldnt just have 3 legs.)


Lahanie and Czar would go with each other... so there would be sameness, continuity and comfort for both of them in that. Percy would still have Joy and Emily and the inimitable Zig. You don't know how long Gideon will be able to be with you which probably affects how you think... do you send the other two on to a splendid place the likes of which which might not come around again for a good long time in order to keep the status quo for Gideon? Would this place take him as well if SAINTS continued to vet him? You could save another sad, "throw-away" horse or horses. tough call and I don't envy you this one.