Horse Testing Begins at A Little Bit of Heaven Rehabilitation Center
Eleven horses have been cleared at A Little Bit of Heaven after they were tested individually and found not to have equine infectious anemia.
The 31 horses at the horse sanctuary and rehabilitation center in North Lawrence had been quarantined in October after 22 horses with no test history for EIA were taken from Owls Head to North Lawrence.
State Agriculture and Markets Law requires a negative EIA test in the 12 months immediately preceding transfer of ownership.
A Little Bit of Heaven’s owners had been asked to take in the Owls Head horses because of family issues at that sanctuary.
But Ag and Markets officials said the horses brought to North Lawrence were not isolated, which they said potentially exposed the rest of the herd at the facility to EIA, and they imposed the quarantine until all horses had been tested.
Officials at A Little Bit of Heaven had asked to test a few horses at a time because of the cost, but that request initially was denied.
However, in mid-January, state officials agreed to let them do individual testing.
Coggins testing has been done on 11 horses, and Vice President and Secretary Anne Foley said they learned Thursday that the tests came back negative.
The Coggins test is a sensitive diagnostic test for equine infectious anemia developed by Dr. Leroy Coggins in the 1970s.
“Things are starting to turn around,” Ms. Foley said.
She said a previous article about the organization’s plight prompted a phone call from the head state veterinarian at Ag and Markets.
“I’ve been dealing with him directly. We were able to come to a compromise as far as pulling the Coggins,” Ms. Foley said. “It took a while, but they finally contacted us to try to come to some kind of resolution.”
Now that they’re released from quarantine, she said, they will be able to participate in the Tri-Town Winter Carnival parade Feb. 21.
Ms. Foley said the sanctuary is at capacity with 31 horses until it is able to adopt or foster out some of them.
“We’re continually getting hammered with phone calls to take in more horses. The calls come from everywhere — Michigan, Buffalo. That’s just this week. We are obviously refusing them at this point,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how much of a need there is for this sort of thing.”
Some people have expressed a desire to adopt some of the horses once they’re cleared, she said, which will bring in some adoption income.
“As soon as they’re cleared, they’ll be able to be moved,” she said. “We have people ready to take them. Our goal is to rehome some of these horses so we can help other horses.”
One horse has been fostered out and is pending adoption. Another has been adopted and is waiting for the quarantine to be lifted.
A third person has filled out an application for pending adoption.
Because the facility hasn’t been able to adopt out any of the horses, Ms. Foley said, the cost of hay and other items has made funding tight. It costs about $100 a day to provide hay for the horses.
That doesn’t include the cost of grain, critical supplements for pregnant, injured and underweight horses, veterinary and farrier care, and basic operating expenses. Those items alone are more than $3,000 a month.
“We’re hoping that’s going to change once we’re able to let some of these horses go. People are waiting to take some of these horses,” Ms. Foley said.
Local businesses and private donors have helped during the quarantine, enabling the staff and volunteers to continue operating despite the loss of other revenue.
Heart to Heart Fitness in Hogansburg is among those helping the cause. It’s holding a Zumbathon on Saturday to raise money for A Little Bit of Heaven.
“We’re grateful to the people who have donated, and for the hard work put in by volunteers who set up these events,” Ms. Foley said.
“The support of local businesses like Heart to Heart, Laneuville Groceries and Alkies in Massena and Lavigne IGA in Brasher Falls helps more than they realize.”
It is also holding a candle and chocolate fundraiser, and has a donation account set up at GoFundMe.com. PayPal donations can be made at www.alittlebitofheaven.com.
“We’re looking at a couple other options that we haven’t put into place yet,” Ms. Foley said.
“Some people worry that online fundraisers take a percentage of the money, and they want 100 percent of their donation to go directly to the horses,” she said.
“We accept checks or cash, or people can stop into their local Community Bank and ask to make a donation to the Little Bit of Heaven account. The bank will deposit the money directly.”
Other donations also are welcome, President Michael Woods said.
“We’ll accept donations of hay or grain, gas cards, leftover produce, wooden pallets, office supplies — you name it,” he said.
But financial support isn’t all the sanctuary needs, Ms. Foley said. Volunteers are welcome.
“We could actually use help taking care of these horses and getting them ready to be adopted,” Ms. Foley said. “The big push is to get more volunteers — any way that they can help out to kind of free us up to be able to do more.”
“Time is possibly the most valuable donation a person can give,” A Little Bit of Heaven Treasurer Amanda Koboski said. “Mike and Anne can’t do this alone. They have two volunteers who help out at the center several days a week, but we have a desperate need for people who are willing to haul hay, pick up donated pallets, help build additional shelter for the horses and just assist in general.”
Source: Watertown Daily Times