Just after the New Year, a Philadelphia horseman climbed into the driver’s seat of his powerful rig and went in search of at-risk horses in need of a ride to safety, and in doing so, began a personal quest to “do good” in life.
Jon, a logistics professional in the petroleum industry and longtime eventer, became a volunteer hauler for Fleet of Angels shortly after he read about the volunteer network whose mission is to transport horses from danger to safety.
“I lean more toward Buddhism in my beliefs, and you have to do good,” says Jon, who asked that his last name be withheld from this story. “You know, it’s just a thing I have: I really believe you have to do some good in this lifetime.”
After reading about Fleet of Angels in OffTrackThoroughbreds.com last December, he discussed volunteering with his wife, and then decided to go for it. He registered with Elaine Nash’s organization of horse-haulers and volunteers, and within 48 hours, found himself heading to a nearby barnyard where a man was threatening to send a horse and pony to slaughter.
Driving up the driveway of the couple who owned the animals, and remembering what he’d been told before heading out, Jon had a passing thought that his first assignment could be difficult. But it went without a hitch.
“After I got the call from a facilitator in Maryland, who made the arrangements, she made me aware that it might be a tense situation,” Jon says. “I didn’t really worry about it, and when I got there, I opened up the back (of the rig), put the horse and pony on, and was out of there in a couple of minutes.”
While the first job was a little uneasy, and convinced Jon to withhold his name from publication, the experience working with Fleet of Angels has been incredibly rewarding.
“In a sense I think of it like being a member of the fire or police department,” he says. “Someone has their back up against the wall, and they reach out and say, ‘Hey, I need help.’ ”
In the vast majority of the cases, there is little drama, as Jon learned on his second assignment: Get an eight-month-old foal transported from a rescue to his forever home.
“Neither side had a trailer, so I got a call from a facilitator in New York,” he says. “When I arrived, I gave the little guy a lesson in loading, and then got him to his new home. It was a 10 to 12 minute haul, and he is now in a beautiful barn surrounded by lots of horse people who will love and take care of him.”
Elaine Nash, who founded Fleet of Angels in the past year, credits Jon with being ready and willing to hop into his rig, almost on a moment’s notice.
“Jon has made two runs as a Fleet of Angel transport angel. His first was within two days of his registering,” she says. “He’s a willing and able angel!”
Since December, dozens of new volunteers have registered with the Fleet, says Nash, noting that it is a wonderful trend is taking the organization closer to its goal to enlist 10,000 volunteers.
The NYC-based marketing executive, and lifelong equestrian founded 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 “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.
Although her organization already boasts 2,500 volunteers, who do everything from hauling horses to facilitating transport, she hopes to keep growing that number.
Because oftentimes, the life and death of an at-risk horse hinges on whether the animal can find transport to a safe home, Nash explains in an earlier article with OffTrackThoroughbreds.com.
For those wishing to avail themselves of the Fleet of Angels hauling service, the fee structure is as follows: Haulers must 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.
If time is of the essence, Nash welcomes emails at: email@example.com. And those looking to volunteer may also peruse the Fleet of Angels Facebook page.
For Jon, volunteering with Fleet of Angels is proving to be a great way of helping a cause, and the horses he loves.
“This is my little way of stepping in and helping with something that is near and dear to me,” he says. “I love my horses, and I think it’s abhorrent that people eat horsemeat.
“Facebook is a great tool in horse-rescue (awareness), but volunteering with Fleet of Angels allows you to get out from behind the computer and do more.”
8 responses to “Fleet of Angels volunteer: ‘I need to do good””
You will meet some very nice people if you get involved. I have met people that are very thankful for the help. The two other transporters I met this last weekend were also good people with big hearts. Thank you Liz for the two monster sized Redbull’s and a box lunch. For awhile I had to remember to keep the cruise control turned on and set at the right speed.
Thank you for what you do. It takes the at risk horse to it’s happy destination where he/she will be cared for. You are truly the angels of mercy. What a great, networking organization. May the wheels keep on forever rollin’.
Wonderful article–this is a group I’d love to help. I’m checking out their website next. Thanks for sharing, Susan.
Lisa, thanks!Yes, please check out their website. 🙂
Fleet of Angels really is just that- a fleet of Earthbound angels who love horses and are willing to give up a bit of their time to help move horses in their areas from danger to safety. I appreciate each and every one who’s joined this growing network of wonderful people!
Susan [Salk], thank you so much for telling Jon’s story. It’s people like him who make a real difference in the lives of others- both horses and humans.
We hope that everyone who has a truck and trailer will register in our Directory of Angels at http://www.FleetOfAngels.org. You may never be called, but if you are it will be an opportunity to help save a life.
Getting the horses to the safe places and loving homes is often derailed by the lack of transport. It is not that people do not have the desire to help horses, or get them to a rescue and give them good loving homes, they do. Many just have not made the jump to having a truck and trailer. The most of the rescues I know do not have the extra cash to buy, operate and maintain a rig. It is not cheap to do so. I just completed a 3rd flight carrying 3 OTTB’s to their forever home. This latest move proves what 5 motivated people can do. 2 people worked as facilitators to make the move happen. 3 transporters worked to make a daisy chain haul happen. The horses were passed from one rig to another at pre determined meeting points. None of us that drove spent more than day on the road. Not bad for a haul that crossed 9 states.
Take a moment if you have horses and think of how lucky that they are to have good homes, warm barns,plenty to eat and people that love them. So many are in need of these things too. If you can, lend a hand in helping at risk horses. Donate, volunteer, facilitate or hit the road. Those few minutes that you spend could make something bigger than yourself happen.
Thanks for doing what you’re doing! You’re an inspiration!
Good article. There are always rescue horses that need hauled and it is one of the crucial links to getting them to safety and to their new location.