But the work for which we who love horses are most grateful is their tremendous work on behalf of the nearly 200+ horses who were neglected, sick and starving on Ernie Paragallo's farm in Climax, New York.
Unless you've lived under a rock for the last half-year, you know the story. Paraneck Stables, the racing arm of Paragallo's dysfunctional empire, has a farm in Upstate New York. On this farm lived Thoroughbreds who somehow fell through the cracks. How an 1,nearly 200-pound animal can fall through the cracks is beyond me. How over nearly 200 of them can go unnoticed is absolutely unfathomable. Somewhere along the line, "benign neglect" was replaced with "intentional, passive-aggressive murder attempt."
And so the CGHS stepped in in April, and confiscated the horses whose lives were endangered. All were treated, pro bono, by a man I am dubbing, Saint Jerry--Dr. Jerry Bilinski, the equine veterinarian who could not let these horses suffer when he had the tools, knowledge and compassion to help. Ronald L. Perez, Jr. (Ron Perez), the dedicated and compassionate Director and Investigator of the CGHS, would not tolerate these actions: his team of Board members, volunteers, staff and enforcement officers snatched the horses and got them to Dr. Bilinski for Phase I of their rescue.
The next step, that of adopting them out once they were healthy enough to be weaned from medical attention, is in process even as I write this.
This piece is not intended to be a downer, in any way. Inasmuch as I have very strong feelings about the events, I am neither the judge nor the jury. I needed to provide background so that you can know what good has been done so far, and that you may realize that more help is needed in order to assure that each of these horses are loved and safe.
And now a piece of Really Good News--the opportunity is presenting itself on Wednesday, the 26th, to step up to the plate and do a kindness for the horses! On that day, Mary Anne Macica, who, with her sister-in-law, adopted three of the orphans, will join the crew from the Columbia-Greene Humane Society at the Saratoga Race Course to raise funds and awareness of the need for our entire racing community to participate in the continued nurturing of these horses. About 70 of the horses have been adopted out so far, but there is much work to do in order to assure a bright future for these gorgeous, loving animals.
[NOTE: I originally instructed that the information booth will be set up near NYRA's info kiosk ("May I Help You?"), inside the Clubhouse entrance of the track. I passed on incorrect info, folks--sorry! BUT: I realized, after receiving an email from Susan, with different info, that they'll be outside the Silks Room (opposite side from the Jocks' Room), near the path to the paddock, close to the Union Avenue entrance. Blood-Horse confirmed this, this morning. Check there first--that's the spot reserved for non-profits.]
We'll be there to offer moral support to these wonderful human souls who look into equine eyes and see sadness and are determined to bring the light back into those big, soulful orbs.
Please make a point to stop by the booth to say hi. Please give a donation--or arrange to help however you can. Here's an idea: instead of doing that expensive wheel (bet) on Wednesday, how about taking that money and dropping it into the coffer? Or if you can't bear to part with that cash, commit to tithing your day's winnings? A tithe is 10% of your income--ten percent of whatever you win tomorrow, whether you win $2 or $2,000--will go a long way toward assuring that the horses find loving homes and are provided with food, medicine and all the other essentials to live a peaceful, healthy life from this point-on. You're not going to miss 10%--but the horses will be blessed immeasurably by your kindness.
I commit to giving 10% of my winnings to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society on Wednesday, August 26th, earmarked for the horses. I challenge you all to do the same. Not only will we help the horses find warm, safe homes where they'll sleep well at night--but we'll sleep better, ourselves. The knowledge that we've done this one thing for these beautiful creatures and the people who've worked 24/7 to save their lives--well, that's reward enough. Being able to participate on any level, however small or large, is a blessing and a balm to our weary human souls.
And God knows, modern life does make us weary. I call horses, "Valium on the hoof," because they calm my spirit immediately upon contact. The exhaustion of living in contemporary America can drain us of all our resources, including our compassion. Tithing and other giving to such a worthy cause can only help re-humanize you, and put the spark back into your eye.
It's a win-win situation. See you on Wednesday. And be prepared to feel good about yourself--I joyously anticipate it, myself.
[For more information about Wednesday at Saratoga Race Course, please contact either Mary Anne Macica at (518) 469-3578 or the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, (518) 828-6044. Thank you, and...May the Horse be with you!]