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The Neighs Have It

For horses in California, a CHANGE for the better

  • Veterinarian Grant Miller with rescued horse Mindy


    In California, veterinarian Grant Miller—shown here with Mindy—is working to make sure horses see less neglect and more compassionate care. CHRISTINA M. RUSSO

The website for the California horse rescue organization CHANGE: Coins to Help Abandoned and NeGlected Equines provides a troubling glimpse into the horrific conditions that horses sometimes experience. There’s Mindy, a thoroughbred mare who was more than 300 pounds underweight when she was taken in. Art, an Arabian gelding—also severely underweight—was abandoned in the middle of the night at a local intersection. A horse named Nonie was found starving in an unattended pasture. And a horse named Argus—often referred to as the group’s darkest case—was rescued from a criminal hoarder who had kept him confined in a 12-by-6- foot pen—for 15 years.

Some horses have scars. Some have chronic wounds. Some are partially blind. Some are agoraphobic. Some have been living in such deplorable conditions, they don’t even know how to eat grass.

"Yes," acknowledges Dr. Grant Miller, an equine veterinarian and one of CHANGE’s founders. "We see the worst of the worst."

CHANGE was launched in 2007 the old-fashioned way—the group distributed empty water bottle jugs asking citizens to leave their spare coins (hence its acronym). When Miller started telling the equine community about the project, he was heartened by the enthusiasm: “I found that there was an overwhelming response in the community for those who wanted to help—because many people who have lived here for generations had observed there were few options available for horses in need.”

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