Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation Connects Horses with Good Homes
Pittsville, WI (OnFocus) For almost twenty years, the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation in Pittsville has dedicated itself to finding good homes for the horses that come into its care.
“Essentially we are a horse adoption and rescue program. Our job is to take the horses in, evaluate them, rehab them if necessary, and find them good adoptive homes,” said Scott Bayerl, director, who runs the foundation with wife Karen and a core group of volunteers.
Together they operate under the philosophy, “There are no unwanted horses, just unfound connections.” Those who visit their Pittsville stable can find them hard at work caring for the 30 or so horses present at any given time, with about 60 horses adopted out each year.
The majority of the horses in the organization’s care are given up due to life changes, such as a job loss, that means the owner can no longer take adequate care of them.
“You name it, we’ve seen it,” said Scott.
Other horses are confiscated by law enforcement and turned over to the organization for documentation, rehabilitation, and adoption.
As part of its dedication to ensure a safe and happy life for each animal, the Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation adopts horses out under a 5-year contract, which allows it to retain ownership and monitor the animal’s care. At least once a year, the caregiver is required to send in a vet report with current photos, ensuring that the animal is fed, vaccinated, and otherwise cared for properly.
Scott started the foundation in 2001 after serving with a similar organization in the southern part of the state. After resigning from the board, he decided to start up his own operation.
“I really liked the work and it kept me out of trouble,” he said, “so I thought, can we start this on our own and maybe try to do it better?”
Initially he attended auctions to bid on horses that were otherwise destined for slaughter, brought them back to health, and found safe, new homes. As word caught on, owners started connecting with him to rehome their horses and protect them from kill buyers. Today, he no longer attends auctions to acquire horses, having a waiting list of at least a hundred. Once the weather gets colder, that number can jump to over 300.
“The price of hay has gone up considerably. We’re anticipating a rough winter,” Scott said. “A lot of people aren’t going to be able to afford to feed them.”
Hay prices have doubled to $75-120 for a round bale. Though the organization is able to secure better deals thanks to longstanding relationships, it will have to work harder to reach its $24,000 goal to cover costs.
Contributions to its Hay Drive can be made through its website, www.equineadoption.com, or by sending a check or money order to MHWF Hay Drive, 10990 State Hwy. 73, Pittsville, WI 54466.
The Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, a GFAS Verified Equine Charity and nonprofit organization, has no paid employees and works to cover the average $1,000 cost for each healthy horse through a variety of fundraisers, like the upcoming saddle show this Sunday at Marshfield Saddle Club, online auctions, or even by occasionally running a concessions stand at Lambeau Field.
Though the latter is a lot of work, requiring around 25 volunteers and a long day’s commitment, the games are fun.
“The whole time it’s just 900 miles an hour,” Scott said. “We have a cool group of people that work well together and there’s a huge sense of accomplishment when we’re done.”
When not fundraising or working their flexible day jobs, the couple turns their full attention to their charges.
“We’re spending time with the horse, getting to learn what they’re like and what their personalities are, because every horse is completely different,” said Scott. “They’re a lot like people and dogs. They all have individual personalities, likes and dislikes, and quirks.”
The organization also assesses potential adopters to determine whether it will be a good match.
“Basically our lives are down to three things: chores, getting to know people, and getting to know horses,” he said.
The couple is also on the board for the Wisconsin Horse Alliance, a nonprofit which aims to coordinate resources for horse owners and educate the community. The WHA is holding its 2nd Midwest Rescue Horse Trainers Challenge in Madison on October 19, featuring 17 horses. The Midwest Horse Welfare Association provided six untrained horses, who work with trainers for 90 days for the final competition, a process which greatly increases their chance of adoption. Last year, all horses but one were adopted.
To learn more about Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation and upcoming events, visit its website and Facebook page.