Do you know someone experienced in construction willing to volunteer? If so, we could REALLY use help! We have several building projects, two of them quite large, that have come to a standstill and we are so behind! We supply ALL of the materials, we just need the help! If you can lend a hand or know someone else who can, please comment here or email us at email@example.com. On behalf of our grateful rescued animals, THANK YOU!
Bryce Airgood, Port Huron Times HeraldPublished 1:43 p.m. ET May 5, 2020 | Updated 2:09 p.m. ET May 5, 2020
‘What happens to these animals?’ Animal nonprofit donations come to halt during pandemic
A couple thousand pounds of grain every two to three weeks. Around 400 pounds of rabbit feed a month. Anywhere from 150 to 200 22-ounce cans of cat food a month.
That’s what it takes to keep the animals fed at the nonprofit Mustang Acres Farm in Capac, and that’s not counting the $20,000 owner Janet Mazzarini spends on hay each year feeding 18 horses. To properly care for the horses, the nonprofit’s expenses vary from $2,000 to $3,000 a month, plus vet bills.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic causing thousands to file for unemployment and with finances tight, nonprofits like Mustang Acres Farm face severe funding shortages.
“Honestly it’s next to none,” Mazzarini said of donations.
It's not just funding shortages that are a struggle, but volunteers staying home to prevent the spread of the virus.
Lisa Ponke, owner of the nonprofit Day Dreams Farm Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation in Cottrellville Township, said that 90 percent of her volunteers are now gone, leaving her and her immediate family with most of the work, though she and her husband are both essential workers and have other jobs.
Bill Gesaman, strategic growth officer for the Michigan Nonprofit Association, said animal rescue nonprofits in the state have seen an increase in adoptions but still face challenges with other aspects of their operations.
“Nonprofits that care for animals are challenged to care for them with less staff while adhering to social distancing guidelines," he said. "With limited resources this can be difficult or impossible for some, forcing them to temporarily close some programs or facilities to the public."
These limited resources include donations, and Ponke said those have come to "a screeching halt."
“When people can no longer afford to feed themselves, they certainly can’t help us," she said.
Ponke said she's concerned with what's ahead.
“That’s what haunts me at night right now,” she said.
The struggles during coronavirus pandemic
Ponke said that her nonprofit has 12 horses, three pigs, two goats, five rabbits and a turkey that have all been rescued from abuse or neglect cases.
The nonprofit is 100 percent volunteer-run and operates on a "shoestring budget," with Ponke estimating it costs about $55,000 to run with the costs of supplements, hay, food and grain.
The nonprofit holds different events throughout the year to raise money for the farm’s hay supply, each bringing in around $1,000 to $1,500. But with the pandemic, they haven't been able to hold any so far this year, Ponke said.
If they still can’t hold their events by October, “then we’re in trouble,” she said.
Although they're not there yet, at some point an organization like Ponke's has to look at the animals and say which need to go so you can feed the rest. You have to look at the big picture, she said.
“What happens to these animals?,” she asked.
Mazzarini said that Mustang Acres Farm also raises money with events, but everything's been cancelled so far this year.
She currently has a GoFundMe for the nonprofit due to the pandemic and she does a lot of fundraising via Facebook. Unfortunately, that’s not going far because people don’t have money right now, Mazzarini said.
But it does put a financial burden on her family and the last couple months some expenses have been coming out of her personal finances.
Mustang Acres Farm is not taking more animals at this time.
“You have to know when to draw your line,” she said.
How you can help
Mazzarini said the best way to support the nonprofit right now is through the GoFundMe or monetary donations. Gift cards to Tractor Supply Company and Family Farm and Home help too.
The nonprofit has a registry with Amazon where people can purchase things for the nonprofit and it will accept things like old blankets for cat bedding.
She is open to volunteers after the pandemic is over, as she currently has none and only gets help from her family on the farm.
She's grateful for any support and People can contact her on Facebook or on the nonprofit’s website.
Volunteers don’t need to have horse experience to help out. The chores are “never-ending” and there’s an abundance of things to do, Mazzarini said.
Ponke said people can also give monetary donations at the Day Dreams Farm website, and the nonprofit will accept items to resell for funds or cans and bottles that they can take to bottle returns when they are reopened.
“At some point you still have to come up with money to feed these animals,” Ponke said.
Contact Bryce Airgood at (810) 989-6202 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.
Day Dreams Farm Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation
7731 Morrow Road
Marine City, MI 48039
Visitors welcome by appointment after our stay at home order is lifted.
Day Dreams Farm is a 501(c) 3 non-profit company.
All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.
Can you believe this is the same horse from January? Lacey is a sassy one for sure. In true Arabian style, she absolutely thinks she's all that. She will be available for adoption soon. We have a bit more training to do and she still needs coggins and vaccines updated. She is very small and petite. She will be a great project for an experienced teenager working with a trainer. Once she is available for adoption, we will update the adoption folder with details.
Help us help more horses like Lacey
Even through a global crisis, it seems animal abuse and neglect never takes a break. Unbelievably, in the last five days, we assisted animal control with not one, but TWO emergency neglect cases. The situations are ongoing, but the first case involved the rescue of a sweet aged Nubian Goat. She was crippled and barely able to walk on her own. Her hooves had clearly not been taken care of in a very long time. She had a raging infection in her ear from her ear tag. We are happy to report that, after being seen by our vet, she is doing MUCH better. The infection is clearing up rapidly. She’s received one hoof trim so far and we have her on anti-inflammatory medication for her arthritis.
The second case happened yesterday and involved two horses. Unfortunately, one was euthanized at the scene. The other came to the farm. She’s skinny, but seems to have no underlying health problems. We will start cleaning her up today and getting her on the road to recovery.
I cannot disclose any more details of these cases as they are both ongoing situations.
I can’t even thank Officer Christina Wilson enough for dropping everything to get these guys out of harms way. She really is the best of the best.
It’s been a very long road for all of us, and this farm is no exception. I haven’t been on in a while. Honestly, I’m just like everybody else. Some days I’m pretty productive, some days, I can barely get the basic chores done. Most of our volunteers have opted to stay home, as well they should. Dave and I are both “essential” workers. That is both a blessing and a curse. I’m glad to have a job that gives me a change of scenery, but it is nerve wracking trying to protect myself in public.
After we had to cancel the Easter Event, we were hoping upon hope we could reschedule an event in May. Obviously, that is no longer looking like a possibility. At this point, we are just hopeful just to have the Halloween Spooktacular this year. These events are how we pay for our hay for the winter. Plus, the fact is that we LOVE to put these events on. We love to see kids riding and playing and having a great time with our rescued animals. We are going to have to get really creative to figure out how to make up those funds.
The thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the rest of the small non-profit animal rescues out there. What happens to the ones like us with no paid staff? What happens to the ones who have to use their own personal money when the donations run out as they often do? How long can they hang on? Animals still need to be fed no matter what. What a lot of people don’t realize is, if you’re a small non-profit business that has NO paid staff, you CANNOT get help from this small business stimulus.
I wish SOMEBODY would talk about it. I have contacted every news outlet I can think of with no response whatsoever. Small non-profits are the backbone of the rescue mission. I’ve talked to several of my fellow rescues and some are wondering how long they can hold on before they have to close their doors for good. This rescue IS luckier than most small rescues. We have an AMAZING donator base that supports our mission and for that we are unbelievably grateful. We will likely not be forced into that position. But at some point, hard decisions will have to be made for some of the rescues who have put their hearts, souls, blood, sweat and tears into saving animals.
And even though we are doing ok, we can’t go to auctions and with animal control being closed, we aren’t helping them either. So, we are maintaining, but I worry every day about the animals out there we can’t help right now and that thought is both heartbreaking and exhausting.
Again, THANK you to our generous donators. Without you, we wouldn’t be us. Because of our supporters, we have been able to help a couple of local people keep their animals through this pandemic. We are unbelievably grateful for everyone who helps our mission, whether it’s donations, sharing posts, or dropping off bottles and cans. We are truly humbled by our supporters.
So, even if it’s not us, PLEASE support your local volunteer rescues. We all need to work together so everybody can come through this.
Hopefully, this ends sooner than later for everyone’s sake. Stay strong everybody.~Lisa
I get it, we are dealing with this incredible amount of mud and water just like everyone around us, but COME ON. How do you look at this horse day after day and just think that it's fine? She had NO place to get out of this mud, which was 2 feet deep in some spots, not even in her tiny makeshift turnout shelter. She was LITERALLY in a back yard all by herself. Fortunately, a family member FINALLY contacted St. Clair County Animal Control and that got the ball rolling. With much persistence, the owner signed off on the horse and she came here with us. We are once again unbelievably proud to be able to partner with animal control to get this little girl out of the mud and on to a better life.
We thought she was just a baby, maybe 2 years old. But, after doing some research, we found out she is FIVE YEARS OLD! We learned her original owners also owned her mother and this poor horse has NEVER known good care. She has known nothing but neglect her entire life! She is so stunted she has the body and teeth of a horse less than half that age.
Her halter was literally weeks from being completely embedded. She is super headshy and it takes forever to make adjustments to her halter. She does have a dent and permanent scar on her nose. She's a little skinny, has a lot of rainrot along her back, but she's a sassy little girl and we do think that once she gets some rehab and tlc, she will be just fine. We are calling her Lacy.
Any donations to help us with rehab are greatly appreciated. On behalf of our grateful rescued horses, THANK YOU!
HAPPY 2020 EVERYBODY!
2019 Year in Review:
We did spend the first few months of 2019 catching up from Dave’s devastating injury in 2018, but once we got going, we REALLY got going.
We took nine horses out of harm’s way and into better lives, along with 14 Rabbits, 53 chickens and ducks and 3 abandoned pigs. We became partners with our new and amazing St. Clair County Animal Control and provided assistance with three seizures, including the cruelty case of 83 dogs, 5 cats and 2 birds last November owned by Irene Burns that has since become widely known.
The fact is we do a lot behind the scenes that nobody really knows about. This team works hard every day and none of us get paid a dime. We don’t do it for the thank yous or the pats on the backs. We do it because it’s the right thing to do to give our human AND animal friends a leg up when they need it. The team we rebuilt in 2019 is second to none.
Our goal for 2020 is to at least DOUBLE the number of horses we get out of harm’s way and into the lives they ALL deserve. We WILL get started with our therapy program this year once we get enough people on board to help us. We will continue to build this rescue into the biggest and best rescue St. Clair County has ever seen and we will continue our amazing new partnership with St. Clair County Animal Control.
Thank you to our team members for this past year. Thank you to our amazing supporters for this past year and years before. Thank you to the people who adopted or fostered horses for us that allowed us to bring more animals in to safety.
Without each and every one of you, Day Dreams Farm WOULD NOT EXIST. To reach our goals this year, we need all the support we can get. We will be re-launching our sponsorship program which has been set aside for several years now. Watch for that in the next couple of weeks.
Here’s to a busy and exciting 2020. Cheers Everybody! ~Lisa