Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Richland Center Rescues: sketchy RAR vs quality Ocooch

First, a few brief news bulletins.

Another case of EEE was confirmed in Wisconsin. Remember to vaccinate!

A Dane County judge has ruled that dogs cannot be used to hunt wolves in Wisconsin. The DNR will uphold the ruling, but hasn't re-written any rules yet, and is planning on going ahead with the wolf hunt in October.

There was a neat article for horse lovers and Packer fans alike in a Milwaukee paper recently; click here to read it.
Now then, on to the part where I rant:

Richland Area Rescue worries me. Nay, angers me.

Although they don't appear to be actively breeding animals, their behavior raises several red flags.

-Not all animals are spayed/neutered/gelded
-Not all animals appear to have basic vaccinations

-Until recently, the kennels were primitive, with dirt floors
-Some animals don't have minimal basic training
...and other sketchy stuff.

Let me give you an example. I was tipped off about RAR when a watchful horse rescuer emailed this Petfinder ad to me:
Click to enlarge

1) Why is this pony not gelded?! Especially when they admit "he should be gelded?!" RAR, you're a rescue, do your damn job!

2) He's been "sat on" but "isn't broke." Okay, who sat on an unbroke mini? A kid? Great, awesome child endangerment. An adult? Awesome, great way to permanently damage an animal. Let's skip straight past my usual argument of "two year old horses should NOT be made to carry weight," and go on to a rant about minis and "being broke."

Minis aren't really meant to be ridden. Like pot-bellied pigs, their main purpose is to look adorable and possibly to pull tiny carts. Can they be ridden? Sure. But they probably shouldn't be. Unless you have a midget volunteer, you're either breaking a horse to ride with a child as its trainer/rider, OR you're using the crushing weight of an adult. Either way, you suck. Are there ways to train a mini without endangering a child or squishing said equine? Well... yes. Effective ones? Ehhh.... maybe. That's a debate for another time.

Let's take a look at some other sketchy stuff at RAR:

This horse isn't guaranteed sound-- she has problems in her whole back end. RAR doesn't know what's wrong with her, because apparently they don't want to pay a real vet to find out, but after a cursory look from a vet tech, they guess she'll be okay for light riding with a light rider. This sounds totally safe.

This mare looks a bit too ribby in her pictures, and her colt is 5 months old, but  "hasn't had anything done with him." Yikes, when do they plant to start halter breaking? When he's big enough to really hurt someone?

Emilita and Prince: Arabian, Horse; Richland Center, WI

This pony is unbroke, but is being advertised as, "she could make a great birthday present for a little kid." I shall now repeat the obligatory mantra: "Animals should not be given as presents." Shouldn't a rescue know not to use this as a selling point?

...and there not-fixed puppies up for adoption without all their shots, unclear adoption prices, no mention of a return-to-shelter requirement when a pet doesn't work out, etc etc.

I think the argument could be made that I'm mostly nit-picking here. By themselves, each of these complaints might be petty. And even put together, they don't add up to actual abuse. It might be a little rough-and-ready, back-woods, poor quality type of rescue, but they're trying, right? And there are certainly camps of people who believe that rescues who help many animals a little are just as good as rescues who help a few animals a lot.

However, I cannot and will not forgive any "rescue" or "shelter" for not spaying/neutering/gelding animals in their care. Animals wind up in shelters because they are unwanted. How do we have unwanted animals? Largely, because we've allowed too many of them to breed.And sending an unfixed animal out the door is an invitation for it to breed.

Richland Area Rescue does say, "We are working towards having all dogs and cats spayed and or neutered before adoption." They also have a one-page contract, part of which states that any animal adopted needs to be spayed/neutered/gelded within 30 days of adoption. But to me, these are flimsy mechanisms. RAR should just act responsibly, dammit.

Interestingly, there is another rescue in Richland Center: Ocooch Mountain Humane Society. They have a much nicer website, a bimonthly low-cost spay-and-neuter program, regular fundraising events, a much more thorough adoption application, and all their animals are fixed and have all their shots. Ocooch is still small; they only have a facility for cats (dogs are all privately fostered) but you can tell there have a quality operation.

So why is it that RAR has gotten the Richland County contract to take in strays, not the better-run Ocooch? I'm guessing RAR underbid Ocooch for the contract. That's a shame. If you're from the Richland Center area, please take a moment to tell your city government to spend your tax dollars at a higher quality facility that really cares for animals. (Click the link and then scroll down for contact info for city officials.)

I contacted Ocooch to ask them about the county contract as well as their operation versus RAR's, but didn't hear back by press time*.

*Update: never ever heard back from them.


  1. Here is answers to some of your questions. Ocooch Mountain Humane Society under present leadership does not want the county contract. They do not have a shelter and if they do build one under present leadership it will be mainly for cats but once again will not go after the county contract. Ocooch Mountain Humane Society seems to have become a program for hoarding cats and making it next to impossible for cats to be adop0ted out. OMHS has shut down the twice monthly spay/neuter clinics even though it could have been continued. They decided to go bck to a voucher program. OMHS takes the biggest chunk of donations out of this area but does the least amount to help the area animals other than the 100 cats they have in there care. RAR does get there animals fixed and does not turn unaltered animals in with other unaltered animals. The state does regular inspections of RAR but not of OMHS. RAR has to follow state regulations but OMHS flies under the radar there. There is also Richland County Friends of Animals in this area that is inspected regularly by the state.FOA also adopts out more animals than OMHS with less dollars. OMHS has become more of a Animal Rights Activist organization than a humane society. OMHS uses the most expensive vet clinic in the area & has seemed to help build there new clinic buying all there food from this clinic & vetting the majority of there animals there. RAR has limited dollars & cares for more animals than OMHS does. You need to do more research before you print hurtful things about an animal rescue group.

  2. I entered a very long comment about this but do not see it posted here. I work with 3 groups in this area including RAR. but you could not include my factual post on this.

    1. Your comment was indeed published (see above). I see you don't actually have any good response to the sketchy conditions at RAR. All you said was, "RAR does get there animals fixed." (It should be "their" by the way.) If they do, WHY were they advertising them for adoption when those animals are clearly NOT fixed? WHY were they advertising an UNBROKE pony STALLION as an appropriate birthday gift for a child?!

      I noticed that you attacked Ocooch quite a bit but did not provide any proof. Although, I have to laugh at the idea that using the most expensive vet in the area is a "bad" thing. (Guess what? Some rescues don't cut corners.)

      If you have any actual proof that the situation has chanced since I published this article in Sept. 2012, I would be delighted to see it... but RAR's very own website still states, as of 10/5/13,
      "We are working towards having all dogs and cats, spayed
      and or neutered, before adoption."

      In addition, many of their currently available animals are NOT listed as spayed/neutered. That includes an entire litter of puppies, now six months old. I have said it before, and I will repeat it again:

      I cannot and will not forgive any "rescue" or "shelter" for not spaying/neutering/gelding animals in their care. Animals wind up in shelters because they are unwanted. How do we have unwanted animals? Largely, because we've allowed too many of them to breed. And sending an unfixed animal out the door is an invitation for it to breed.

  3. Do you think maybe not all rescues are funded by the state? That some people do the best they can with what they have? Neglect and abuse isn't the case with RAR, all the animals are well cared for. Why jump the gun & just assume every rescue has the funds to get the animals fixed? what gives you the right to make all these accusations without knowing the facts? Hopefully this post was just to make you feel better about yourself.

    1. No rescues are funded by the state. A few humane societies receive county funding.
      The difference between RAR and good rescues that rely on donations is that GOOD rescues don't take on animals they can't properly care for. If RAR only has the funding to take in and spay/neuter a couple of animals a year, that's what they should be doing-- not doing a crappy ass job "helping" lots more. A rescue isn't a rescue if their animals don't get vaccinated, spayed and neutered and responsibly re-homed.