California Riding Magazine • March, 2014

To The Rescue!
California horse welfare organizations unite for a monumental and successful save.

Red Bucket Equine Rescue in Chino Hills, led by Susan Peirce, joined forces with Shirley Puga of NERN in Encinitas, and Marlene Dodge of Valley View Rescue in King City to rescue 13 pregnant malnourished mares, three geldings, two fillies and one colt from the Fallon auction in Nevada. The auction is known for selling horses by the pound to kill buyers for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

Alerted to this auction by concerned supporters in mid-February, Red Bucket successfully raised the money necessary from donations around the country to save the horses from slaughter including funds to pay for Coggins, health certificates, brand inspection and transportation. This coalition of rescuers executed this enormous rescue effort in only 26 hours. Peirce, Dodge and Puga committed to making sure that all of the horses would be saved and used their personal finances prior to the successful fundraising.

Every year, approximately 130,000 American horses are sent to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico under horrific conditions and their meat is then shipped overseas for human consumption.  The slaughter of pregnant mares is especially barbaric as the foals are cut out and thrown in the "trash pile." Of all horses going to slaughter, 92.3 percent are healthy, sound and trained horses.

"Most people do not know that this kind of atrocity exists, where healthy horses and very pregnant mares are being sold for slaughter," said Peirce. "I am proud that Red Bucket was able to take a leadership role in such a positive outcome.  Shirley Puga and Marlene Dodge are competent and selfless rescuers and I am grateful to be able to partner with two remarkable forces of nature." 

The geldings and colt have already been relocated to a private facility. The pregnant mares and fillies were being delivered to California rescues the week of Feb. 17. The rescues joining in are: Red Bucket Equine Rescue in Chino Hills, Mea Ola's Place in Phelan (501(c)3 pending), Heavenly Horse Haven in Anza, Villa Chardonnay in Temecula, Safe Haven Horse Rescue in Cottonwood, Oakdale Equine Rescue in Oakdale, and All About Equine Animal Rescue in El Dorado Hills.

The veterinary costs are likely to be significant in caring for these mares and newborns. Red Bucket Equine Rescue and the other rescues are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations and survive on donations from the public.

Report provided by Red Bucket Equine Rescue. For the latest and/or to donate much-needed funds, visit Red Bucket Equine on Facebook or