Research ecologist forgoes planned family vacation to help 49 neglected horses in West Virginia
CINCINNATI, OH (June 8, 2010) – Joe Schubauer-Berigan of Cincinnati and his wife, Mary, planned their summer vacation months ago: a week at their cabin in North Carolina with their three rescued Australian Shepherds, Nico, Ani and Yogi, and time to unwind from the stresses of everyday life and commune with nature. But when he learned that 49 neglected horses needed his help, Schubauer-Berigan sent Mary and the dogs to the cabin without him, making plans to meet up with them after the equines were out of crisis.
Joe Schubauer-Berigan of Cincinnati, Ohio used his animal-handling skills to help 49 rescued equines get started on the road to a better life. It was the second time in six months that Joe volunteered to help neglected horses. Photo: Debbie Ferguson.
As a volunteer with California-based United Animal Nations (UAN), Schubauer-Berigan packed his bags and headed to Mason County, West Virginia at his own expense to assist in the sheltering and care of 49 horses, mules and donkeys seized on May 27 in one of the largest equine cruelty cases in
Schubauer-Berigan, a research ecologist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, helped set up a temporary shelter where the horses would be cared for after being removed from the property. He constructed corrals and holding pens, hauled hay, lay down sawdust, and sorted and organized tools. After the animals arrived he unloaded them from trailers, settled them into their stalls, brought them food and water, cleaned their stalls, and helped a veterinary team corral them so they could be medicated. Schubauer-Berigan’s horse-handling skills were crucial during the first stages of the sheltering effort, when the animals were most likely to be frightened and skittish.
“I worked with Joe in
The horses, mules and donkeys were found in horrible condition on a property in Wayne County, West Virginia. Many were extremely emaciated and suffering from a variety of medical ailments including overgrown, infected hooves, parasite infestation and untreated wounds. Concerned local citizens, shocked by the condition of the equines, had complained to the Cabell-Wayne Animal shelter and the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was called in to act as the lead animal welfare organization in the case and called UAN to provide sheltering support, a core competency of the organization.
Distinguished by their red shirts, UAN volunteers are specially trained to care for animals at temporary shelters after they have been rescued from cruelty and neglect situations or displaced by natural disasters. UAN has 3,000 trained, active volunteers in the
Schubauer-Berigan has deployed with UAN twice before: in December 2009 to help 84 horses rescued from near starvation in Cannon County, Tennessee; and in June 2008 to shelter hundreds of animals displaced by severe flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Schubauer-Berigan was inspired to become a UAN volunteer after watching the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the animals. “I like animals,” he said. “They cannot speak for themselves so we need to be their advocates. Donating money just didn’t seem to be enough for us anymore. We wanted to contribute in a bigger way.”
Despite that, Schubauer-Berigan and his wife continue to donate money to UAN and to other organizations, with the help of his glassblowing hobby. Proceeds from all the pieces Schubauer-Berigan sells go to UAN or other animal protection organizations. Even with the challenges of handling their own three Aussies and their cat Zevon, he and Mary, who is also a trained UAN volunteer, stay involved in Aussie rescue, transporting, fostering and finding homes for these highly intelligent and active dogs.
After the UAN team had the equines safely and comfortably sheltered, Schubauer-Berigan finally got to meet his family for their summer vacation, so richly deserved after four days of hard work.
Founded in 1987, United Animal Nations (UAN) focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals through a variety of programs, including emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. Learn more at www.uan.org.