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Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.
The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”
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Mustangs Breed Description
The mustang is a free-roaming horse of the Western United States, descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but because they are descended from once-domesticated animals, they are actually feral horses. The original mustangs were Colonial Spanish horses, but many other breeds and types of horses contributed to the modern mustang, now resulting in varying phenotypes. Some free-roaming horses are relatively unchanged from the original Spanish stock, most strongly represented in the most isolated populations.
In 1971, the United States Congress recognized that "wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people". The free-roaming horse population is managed and protected by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Controversy surrounds the sharing of land and resources by mustangs with the livestock of the ranching industry, and also with the methods by which the BLM manages their population numbers. The most common method of population management used is rounding up excess population and offering them to adoption by private individuals. There are inadequate numbers of adopters, so many once free-roaming horses now live in temporary and long-term holding areas with concerns that the animals may be sold for horse meat. Additional debate centers on the question of whether mustangs—and horses in general—are a native species or an introduced invasive species in the lands they inhabit.
The word "Mustang" comes from the Spanish word, mesteno, meaning "stray or ownerless" horse. This term aptly describes all wild horses in the United States.
The modern horse evolved over three million years ago and then disappeared from this hemisphere 10,000 years ago. The horse returned to North America when explorers Cortes and DeSoto came mounted on magnificent Barbs from Morocco, Sorraia from Portugal and Andalusians from Spain. The Pueblo Indians learned to ride and passed this skill on to other Indians. In 1680, the Indians revolted against the Spanish rule and the Spaniards left thousands of horses behind in their hasty retreat. The Indians could have rounded up these horses, but chose to let them run wild. It was much easier to raid the Spanish settlements and steal horses. In an effort to stop the Indian raids, the Spanish government shipped a steady flow of mounts to the New World. It was hoped that the Indians would catch the "wild" horses and leave the Spaniards alone.
Tens of thousands of the Spanish-bred horses were herded to the Rio Grande and turned loose in a 200-year period. These horses soon met up with draft horses and cowboy ponies that escaped from the ranchers and farmers arriving from the East. Their numbers exceeded two million by the year 1900. Ranchers took to killing these horses to protect the range-land for their cattle. Fewer than 17,000 horses remained by the year 1970. Stating that Mustangs were "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West," Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 1971. An estimated 41,000 Mustangs roam public range today, but few if any have much original Spanish blood. Today, the Mustang population is managed and protected by the Bureau of Land Management. Controversy surrounds the sharing of land and resources by the free ranging Mustangs with the livestock of the ranching industry, and also with the methods with which the federal government manages the wild population numbers. An additional debate centers on the question if Mustangs—and horses in general—are a native species or an introduced invasive species. Many methods of population management are used, including the adoption by private individuals of horses taken from the range.
Since 1978, captured horses have been offered for adoption to individuals or groups willing and able to provide humane, long-term care after payment of an adoption fee; the base fee is $125. Adopted horses are still protected under the Act, for one year after adoption, at which point the adopter can obtain title to the horse. Horses that could not be adopted were to be humanely euthanized. Instead of euthanizing excess horses, the BLM began keeping them in "long term holding," an expensive alternative that can cost taxpayers up to $50,000 per horse over its lifetime. On December 8, 2004, a rider amending the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act was attached to an appropriation bill before the United States Congress by former Senator Conrad Burns. This modified the adoption program to also allow the unlimited sale of captured horses that are "more than 10 years of age", or that were "offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least three times." Since 1978, there had been specific language in the Act forbidding the BLM from selling the horses to those would take them to slaughter, but the Burns Amendment removed that language. In order to prevent horses being sold to slaughter, the BLM has implemented policies limiting sales and requiring buyers to certify they will not take the horses to slaughter. In 2017, the Trump administration began pushing Congress to remove barriers to implementing both the option to euthanize and sell excess horses.
Despite such means as the Extreme Mustang Makeover, a promotional competition that gives trainers 100 days to gentle and train 100 mustangs, which are then adopted through an auction, to try increase the number of horses adopted, adoption numbers do not come close to finding homes for the excess horses. Ten thousand foals were expected to be born on range in 2017, whereas only 2500 horses were expected to be adopted. Alternatives to roundups for on range population control include fertility control, either by PZP injection or spaying mares, culling and natural regulation.
Captured horses are freeze branded on the left side of the neck by the BLM, using the International Alpha Angle System, a system of angles and alpha-symbols that cannot be altered. The brands begin with a symbol indicating the registering organization, in this case the U.S. Government, then two stacked figures indicating the individual horse's year of birth, then the individual registration number. Captured horses kept in sanctuaries are also marked on the left hip with four inch-high Arabic numerals that are also the last four digits of the freeze brand on the neck.
"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"
If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)
Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network
Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. RescueShelter.com is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.