Fleet Of Angels (www.fleetofangels.org) was launched with the singular purpose to connect a warm-hearted volunteer convoy of horse-haulers to prospective horse adopters, who simply lack the resources to transport these needy animals, and rescue them from danger.
Begun by longtime equestrian and horse lover Elaine Nash approximately six months ago, the mission of Fleet of Angels is straight forward: Bring at-risk horses from danger to safety, she says.
Having watched too many rescue horses flounder on Facebook, with their photographs posted and cross-posted to people who may not be able to really help, Nash decided to launch the organization that could literally step in, hook a lead rope onto a needy horse’s frayed halter, and lead that animal up a ramp and safely into a horse trailer.
With a bag of hay and a bucket of water waiting just inside a Fleet of Angels van or truck, the frightened animal starts his journey to safety under the care of a volunteer army, some from national shipping companies, and others who just happen to own a trailer and possess the heart to volunteer their time.
“The idea came about as I watched people on Facebook who would put out these big emotional campaigns about rescue horses, and sometimes people with big hearts ran the risk of being exploited” into giving money, Nash says.
As an alternative to re-posting Facebook pleas, Nash says those wishing to help at-risk horses can volunteer to do a range of things for Fleet of Angels, and none of it involves donating cash!
Of the approximately 2,500 volunteers, a number that is climbing steadily, about half work hauling horses, while the others volunteer in a range of activities, including facilitating connections between haulers and prospective rescuers of at-risk horses, she says.
In addition, others volunteer to offer overnight accommodations for haulers and horses who are on their way to their destinations.
“We have a whole range of ways that people can help horses!” she says.
For those wishing to avail themselves of the Fleet of Angels hauling service, the fee structure is as follows: Haulers agree to haul a rescue horse for free, or for cost-of-fuel, or at a significant discount below retail rates, Nash explains.
Those interested in obtaining hauling services, or volunteering, are invited to first register at the Fleet of Angels website to get the process started.
As word spreads, Nash hopes the volunteerism spirit will catch like wildfire.
“It’s terrific how people are pitching in to help,” she says. “Our biggest challenge is letting more people know about us. We could really use some Transport Angels in Canada, the Midwest and West.”
She adds, “Our goal is to grow to the point of having 10,000 transport angels.”
Nash, a NYC-based marketing executive, and lifelong equestrian, developed Fleet of Angels after reading the emotional, often desperate pleas on Facebook, to save an at-risk horse. Nash notes that she does not think of an at-risk horse as being “unwanted,” as they are often called. “I have an adopted daughter and she was very much wanted,” she says, pointing out her reason for the word choice.
While scrolling through Facebook posts that plead for help for horses in trouble, Nash could not help think there must be a better way of moving them from danger to safety.
Nash, an equestrian from a young age, came to horse rescue after parting with her cherished 18-hand black Percheron stallion.
Shortly before moving to New York City, she sold the massive horse she named Colorado to what she thought would be a permanent home. Months later, she was told by the buyer that Colorado had been re-sold t o a young girl who lived nearby.
The story didn’t square with her. “That’s the type of story kill buyers use a lot,” Nash says. “They tell someone they’re buying a horse for their child, or to become a family horse for someone down the road, and I thought that it didn’t seem right that a child would be interested in such a large horse.”
For months, she agonized over the loss of her black stallion.
Until, one day, she received an email from the young girl who had legitimately purchased her horse. The girl attached photographs, and the two became friends on Facebook.
Thrilled to see him, now gelded, in a perfect home, Nash is committed to helping others achieve the same happy outcome for their horses.
Most of the time, the distance between danger and safety is only 15 miles, she says. There are many haulers in the Fleet of Angels who are happy to oblige.
“A point I’d like to make is that there are thousands and thousands of people in the horse community who care a lot about what happens to at-risk horses in this country,” Nash says. “People need to remember that there’s a world out there, with real horses, that are really going on the trucks that are going to slaughter. It takes work beyond Facebook to solve that program.”
“Just talking about at-risk horses on Facebook isn’t good enough,” she says. “If only people would walk away from their computers and look in their own backyards, neighborhoods and communities, and get actively involved with the horses near them—this would help a lot.”