Local woman saves 50 horses set for slaughter

Samantha Hill

A Livingston area woman along with others bought dozens of horses set for slaughter last fall, and now all but two have been adopted.

Michelle Donaldson, who lives right outside of Livingston, said she saw in the Flathead Beacon that many horses were being taken to kill pens where they would be eventually slaughtered and sold for meat, because their owners were no longer able to take care of them and the animals were never adopted.

Donaldson saw one Appaloosa in particular that she really wanted to save.

“So I begged and begged my husband for another horse,” said Donaldson, who already owned two.

She soon realized that she didn’t just want the one horse but to help several of the other horses.

With the help of some friends, she caravanned to the kill pens and bought 50 horses for them to rehabilitate, out of another 50 that remained.

There was a large variety of breeds and ages among the horses, all which needed to be quarantined before being introduced to other horses for fear of passing on disease, Donaldson said.

“When you get horses this way, you never know what you are going to get,” she said. “It is just important that they are quarantined.”

Soon another agency got involved with the program, helping the other four women. Horses were quarantined and cared for at JMG Rescue Horses, in Clinton. Three of the women did it to honor one of their own horses that died. Although some of the horses got sick, all but one survived and have moved on to be great horses.

As the anniversary of the horse rescue comes up, Donaldson said all but two of the horses rescued were given a new home. Even the two that have not been adopted have been serving as practice riding horses for various summer programs.

“Its almost like they were adopted because they have a job to do, but they can still be adopted by someone,” she said.

She also hopes to get more horses out of kill pens this coming year, although not as many.

Donaldson said one day she may set up an organization that helps displaced horses.