A Texas oilman who has donated tens of thousands of dollars through the years to help save slaughter-bound Thoroughbred ex-racehorses swooped in last week to help save 10 Standardbred trotters from the grisly fate.
John Murrell, of Three M Oil Co., Dallas, donated $2,500 toward a $10,000 Go Fund Me to save the trotters before they were due to ship on Saturday to the slaughterhouse. After the fundraiser had fallen short of its goal, Murrell interceded.
“I’d heard about the 10 Standardbred trotters, and then I got a message from Diana Pikulski of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation saying they were trying to help the (Standardbred Retirement Foundation) by chipping in and helping them get information out there. I couldn’t put up the full $10,000, but I said to find out how much they needed and I’d do the best I could,” Murrell says. The two charities are not affiliated with each other. “When I found out later they were $1,800 short of their goal, I said we could do this. I decided to send them $2,500 to put them over the top.”
It was on Pikulski’s recommendation that Murrell agreed to help longtime Standardbred Retirement Foundation Executive Director Judith Bokman and the 28-year-old charity for trotters. “After Diana assured me she was a delightful, respectful, and trustworthy person, I decided to reach out to offer my help,” Murrell adds.
Bokman, who co-founded the New Jersey retirement foundation, says she is eternally grateful to Murrell as well as myriad donors. Never before had she attempted to raise so much, so fast, and through a Go Fund Me campaign, she says.
But tough times demanded new thinking, she explains.
“We’ve been rescuing horses from slaughter for a long time. Last year we assisted in taking out 115,” Bokman says. “We’ve been involved in many rescues, but we’ve never had this large a number (of horses needing rescue). Instead of three horses, there were 10. Because there were so many, and because I felt like I was always going back to the same people to ask for help, I put up a Go Fund Me page to try to reach some new people.”
After putting out a plea on Facebook, Bokman raised roughly $8,000 to save the band of horses who, for the most part, were Illinois bred. “It took six days to raise that money, and I was pretty disappointed to see that only five percent of the money came from people in harness racing. The others who gave are just people who love horses,” she says.
Murrell, who owns and races Thoroughbreds, has been a longtime proponent of aftercare efforts. And he and his wife Kelley donate generously to Thoroughbred rescue efforts. Though he cringes to think of all that money flowing into the hands of meat buyers, he says he loves all horses, and helps when he can.
“I can’t save them all. That would be foolish and I’d be broke. But, I was very impressed with Judith Bokman and what she was able to accomplish with her fundraiser.”
The horses were rescued from the kill pen in Shippensburg, Penn., says Bokman, who notes that all horses are safe. Each horse was purchased for $770, and a shipper was commissioned to collect the horses and transport them to quarantine in New Jersey, she adds. Six of the horses have a new home arranged, and the charity continues to screen applicants for the others, she says.
The plan now is to get the horses comfortable, attend to their feet and let them recover their ordeal in a quarantine facility.
“Most of the horses are sound. They’re not happy—they all look miserable—and their feet are tremendously long,” Bokman says. “But, they all had shoes on and it looks like most of them had already been under saddle.”
And most important, she says, the horses are all safe.