05/13/2011 2:31PM

Kentucky equine charity group seeking funds

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Kentucky equine charity is the latest to put out a fund-raising appeal, citing the economic downturn and lower donations that it says are putting Thoroughbreds at risk.

Meg Jewett, a board member and co-founder of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, said that the Nicholasville, Ky., facility has the capacity for 50 horses but needs more funding to care for an increased number of horses and donkeys in need. Jewett said the center currently has about 40 horses in its care and recently received calls about two groups of malnourished Thoroughbred broodmares, including one herd of 27 in Mercer County.

“It’s constant,” Jewett said of the calls for help. “The ones that are too far gone when we get them or the ones that are untrainable, we put them down. The ones we have a hope of doing it, we try to resurrect them.”

Adoptable prospects are put up for adoption, but Jewett said there are fewer adoptions in an uncertain economy. Jewett said the economic recession is to blame as horse breeders and owners lose money or jobs and can no longer afford to take care of their horses. To those who blame an end to slaughter in the United States for the upturn in needy horses, Jewett said that the Kentucky Equine Humane Center does not take a stand on the slaughter issue. But, personally, she said, “As far as I’m concerned, people who say that are trying to slough off responsibility for horses that are our responsibility. This is the horse capital of the world, and we should take care of what we’ve produced. If they want to breed them, they need to take care of these animals, or stop breeding.”

The center is one of several retirement or rescue groups, including Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Old Friends, that recently have said they have suffered significant downturns in donations even as horse intake has risen.

On a positive note, the founder of the Old Friends retirement facility said in an e-mail message to supporters that his group’s finances have improved after donors stepped in with a cash infusion.

Michael Blowen made an emergency appeal for more than $300,000 last month after the charity’s bank notified them that an error in rewriting Old Friends’s mortgage meant the charity was now more than $200,000 behind in its payments. In an e-mail update, Blowen said the appeal so far has raised “well over $100,000.”