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Equine Justice

By Marty Peak Helman

Peggy Kaiser, from the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, was our guest speaker last week. Peggy began her talk by saying that the organization, which she referred to by its initials, MSSPA, is not well named; that the organization is not part of state government and receives no funding from the state. What it does is work with state and local law enforcement and provide a safe haven for horses, donkeys and mules when they are seized as a result of criminal neglect.

MSSPA works with animal control officers to “surprise” the neglected animal’s owner and effect the seizure, and then gives the animals a health check and works to return them to health while their legal case moves forward. Peggy showed pictures of horses when they were first brought to the facility and then the same horses after they were returned to proper health, teeth and hooves inspected, and neatly groomed.

After their legal situations are resolved, MSSPA works hard to find the horses their new forever homes.

MSSPA’s $1.2 million annual budget is met by donations, bequests and fundraising, and augmented by volunteer vets and an army of volunteers who come to the Windham facility to groom, feed and exercise the animals. The horses’ history – veterinary as well as name – is generally unknown when they arrive; the volunteers and vets are working from a clean slate.

At any given time, MSSPA is generally caring for 35-40 horses.

MSSPA also has programs to help existing horse owners who may need financial help. A feeding care bank provides financial assistance to owners who need it. Peggy said that needs are great right now; the soggy summer meant that hay prices are skyrocketing. The other program is Maine Horse Matchmaker, an online service to match available horses with potential new owners.

Next week, our speaker will be Doug Brendel, a novelist, speaker par excellence and Rotarian from the Ipswich, Ma, club, who will talk about the club’s project in Belarus.

Meanwhile, we were absolutely delighted to enjoy Becky Welch’s company last Thursday! Judy DeGraw also showed up, very much under her own power. Well, okay, she is sporting a cane named Candy but expects to relegate it to the closet fairly quickly. Meanwhile, Vicki Haugen is home and arguing with her cat over who gets to hog the bed. We miss you, Vicki!

Looking ahead, our Interact Club is eager for us to restart our Veterans Appreciation Night. Set your calendars for this important event November 9, and stay tuned for more information.

Marty is collecting names of Rotarians who want club polo shirts, and – in a nod to Doug Harley – also baseball caps. Please see her with your size and preferred color; she’ll get back to the group with prices.

Meanwhile, our Board has voted $300 per month to the Community Fridge, and Cathy Fisher is already doing the shopping. Our club also established a $5000 matching fund to supply fuel to the Community Resources Council program. We expect others in town to meet that number fairly quickly.

Interested in learning more about our club and the fellowship and fun we have while giving back to our Region? Ask any Rotarian or drop by the clubhouse on Thursday evenings and join one of our meetings. We meet at 6:00 pm; the meeting comes to order (if you can call it that) at 6:30 pm and we are outta there an hour or so later. And don’t forget to come to the Rotary Barn at 66 Montgomery Road for deals and steals every Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 11:00. You’ll acquire a treasure and the knowledge that all proceeds go back to our community.