AR-News: (DC) Rescue Farm Nurses Ailing and Abused Horses
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Sun Oct 12 04:22:06 EDT 2003
Animal Control Agencies Hail Mount Airy Operation For Equine Expertise
By Susan DeFord
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 12, 2003; Page C04
The new arrivals were in critical shape. The mother's backbone was a
prominent, knobby ridge, her ribs starkly outlined. The two-week-old was covered with
open sores and so weak it was uncertain he would live another day.
The horses received immediate treatment and were monitored through that first
anxious night. Three months later, American Allie, as the chestnut mare is
called, has gained more than 200 pounds and Zepplin, her colt, is a
rambunctious, newly weaned three-month-old. In a few months, they will go to new homes and
new adoptive owners, shedding their past lives at a Prince George's County
farm. Allan and Kathleen Schwartz will see to that.
The couple operates Days End Farm Horse Rescue, the refuge of last resort for
some of the sorriest victims of animal abuse and neglect in Maryland. Animal
control officers across the state call for help from the 14-year-old operation
in western Howard County when they seize horses whose owners are accused of
endangering their animals.
It's a problem that's growing with the state's sizable equine population, now
estimated at more than 87,000. Although there are rescue operations in
Maryland that take retired racehorses or buy horses to save them from
slaughterhouses, only Days End has forged a close partnership with animal control and
emergency response agencies.
Before Days End, "we made do, but not as well as we do with Days End," said
Charles County Animal Control Chief Ed Tucker.
The Schwartzes regularly see how humans mistreat their equine charges. Their
files tell the story of Victoria, the Charles County horse whose owner abused
her sexually until his arrest in 2000 and subsequent conviction on bestiality
and cruelty charges.
There's Atticus, a Talbot County Standardbred who was found crippled last
year because his untrimmed hooves had grown so long that one curled up like a
broad knife blade.
And of course, Luke, an Arabian who arrived emaciated and ridden with
internal parasites. Now he's winning 50- and 100-mile endurance races, and new owner
Kim Orr of Frederick thinks he has a shot at winning national competitions.
Out in the barn there's Yogi, a Prince George's Arabian who arrived in the
summer with practically no body fat but new shoes on his feet and saddle sores
on his back, indicating that he had been ridden in his malnourished condition.
"One of the reasons horses come in here is people go out, buy one and expect
it to do wonderful things," said Kathy Schwartz, 52. "They don't have a clue."
In addition to rehabilitating the animals, the Schwartzes, aided by staff
members and volunteers, carefully document the condition they arrived in and
treatment efforts to help prosecute animal cruelty charges. They also train animal
control officers to spot signs of abuse and neglect. At any given time, about
55 horses are under their care at their facility in the small community of
"We've had a working relationship with Days End for quite a long time," said
Kristen Pagelsen, spokeswoman for the American Horse Protection Association, a
national advocacy and education organization based in the District. "Days End
is really quite a model."
In 1989, the Schwartzes were living a much different life. Allan Schwartz ran
the family's appliance store in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of the
District. Kathy Schwartz helped manage the store and choreographed the busy lives of
four children at their Mount Airy farm. They kept three horses at a nearby
boarding stable, but they were drawn to another horse kept there, one that was
wasting away with untreated intestinal parasites and a scabby skin infection.
They coaxed the owner, who had lost interest in the horse named Toby, into
giving them the animal, and they took him home.
"I knew to call a vet," Kathy Schwartz said. "We worked out a plan between us
and got him back on the road to recovery."
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