Struggling to bring hope to abandoned horses - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Struggling to bring hope to abandoned horses


JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- At The Humane Organization Rescuing and Saving Equine in Janesville, or HORSE, there are stories of abuse.

Co-founder Jim Bondowski introduced us to Reba. She was rescued from a kill pen in Iowa, marks of abuse remain.

"Someone just hit, they wanted to kill her and that's what they do, they abuse and that's all right there," Bondowski.

Some former kings, others left for dead.

Bondowski and his wife Cindy have been taking in abandoned and abused horses for more than a decade.

"When these horses get in here, they have a lot of pain, a lot of hurtness and a lot of abusement," Bondowski says.

Then there are cases like Tucker, a special needs horse that needs a special place that can handle his serious emotional issues.

But rescues like HORSE in Janesville are running out of room.

"Someone like me calls in and say I got a horse that is an emotional basket case and he needs a special facility and they are like, no they cant help you," says Peggy Waters. She rescued Tucker and brought him to HORSE.

Rescues call this time of year "Dumping Season." It's when they're flooded with horses that people can't afford to keep anymore.

Bondowski says this year has been a nightmare.

"We had to take our sign down because when we come home. There are horses tied to the fence and some in the pasture," he says.

Last year, the Janesville based rescue had 27 horses. Now, they are at 60.

Bondowski says his non-profit facility and other rescues around Wisconsin are now at capacity and the horses that can't be saved are often killed.

"If they have no means, and if horse rescues like us have no room, they look to slaughter them or even shooting them in their back yard," he said.

Horse slaughters in the U.S. have been shut down, but Bondowski says a lot of horses are transported to slaughter houses in Canada and Mexico.

Bondowski is not only emotionally drained, with limited federal, state and county grants available, he's financially drained as well.

Last year Bondowski says it cost around $300,000 to run the facility. He expects that to triple this year. That's forcing him to dip into his own pocket.

"I would say out of my pension it's already $15,000 this year."

Still, Bondowski refuses to quit.

He's finding recovered horses a home so that another one has a chance to be rescued.

And if he can't take them in, he finds someone who can.

"People have to realize that there are people like us out there," he says.

Bondowski calls his mission a gift to these animals, and although they can't talk, they show, they're grateful to have a second chance.

There are about a dozen horse rescues in southern Wisconsin. Bondowski says the Janesville horse rescue works with the state on a program that teaches a class for people who want to own a horse.

It shows them all the work and money it takes so hopefully it could save future horses from getting abandoned.

One of the rescuers featured in this story needs your help finding a horse. For more information on Thunder and how you can help, click here.

Bondowski says right now, his non-profit can use all the help they can get. To find out more about HORSE click here.


MADISON (WKOW) -- It's what's known as dumping season. Horses abandoned at horse rescue centers across the state because their owners can no longer take care of them.

Some of them beaten and starved. But in today's tough economy- horse rescues are packed and can no longer take them.

Wednesday on 27 News at 10:00, Brian Rodriguez checks out one horse rescue struggling to continue its mission and what happens to the horses they can't save.

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