President’s Message:

Taking Care of Emily

Laura Ann Cammisa, President of NYSHA

As I am writing, the snow is falling heavily in yet another storm, the birds are making all the feeders look like Grand Central Station, and the cats are contentedly curled up in their favorite warm spots.

Yet making sure one member of our equine family is thriving in this weather has been a particular challenge. Emily, probably the sweetest mini-donkey ever, became sick in October. At first, we thought she was just having problems with her feet, but after intense care and proper farrier consultations and treatment, we called our veterinarian.

Emily had a liver problem, which was affecting her other organs and the way she moved. We are not sure how it developed, but she was rescued from another rescuer years ago, and her diet prior to living with us was now probably taking its toll. The outlook was not good, but the vet assured us she was not suffering, and there were options to try.

And so began the endless pattern of weekly vet visits, blood work, inoculations, medication, dental work, changes of diet, and determined efforts to keep her warm and maintain her weight. We have enclosed her stall and ordered special coats to preserve her body heat. She has hiking socks without toes that look like leggings. Every morning and every evening I change her “clothes” — the extra donated sweatshirts, sweaters, jackets, scarves, and blankets we wrap her in — she certainly has her own fashion sense! As I tend to her wardrobe, she patiently rests her head on my shoulder while I tell her how much we adore her. Emily’s attitude and spirit are great, and she is holding her own. When she is finally able to eat grass again (right now she is enjoying rabbit pellets) we hope for a more positive change. Hurry Spring!

For most of us, taking care of a sick animal is a labor of love. I am in the barn with Emmie hours every day, starting at six in the morning and finishing at midnight. Our vet tells us that if we get her through the winter, she will have a good chance of recovery. We are adamant that she will, as long as she is comfortable. I am grateful that we can make the time and have the means, stamina, love, and commitment to support her.

But what about those who cannot or will not provide all that is necessary to care for equines? In this economy, more equine cruelty cases are surfacing — and we don’t even know about the ones hidden away. We need to educate people about the care these animals require, financial and otherwise. They are not simply lawn ornaments or a passing fancy for a child.

Similar to puppy mills, we must find a way to ensure responsible breeding of equines. We are concerned about the care animals receive in these situations, but frequently when they are purchased by poorly prepared people, their lives do not improve. The solutions lie in awareness, education, and legislation. Please, join us for Lobby Day, to make a difference for animals like Emily and the lucky creatures in your homes.

As always, for the animals,
Laura-Ann Cammisa
President NYSHA

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXIV, No.2, Fall/Winer 2010.