The following euthanasia techniques are deemed acceptable by properly trained personnel:
* Lethal dose of barbiturates (intravenous)
* Lidocaine hydrochloride 2% (intrathecal) with the horse in a surgical plane of general anesthesia
* A concentrated solution of either potassium chloride (intravenous) or magnesium sulfate (intravenous) with the horse in a surgical plane of general anesthesia
* Alternative methods may be necessary in special circumstances under the discretion of the veterinarian.
Our horses are given a mild sedative so they do not feel pain or fear in their last moments. All euthanasias by our rescue are done by a licensed veterinarian with Euthasol. We do not use any other methods as part of our first line protocols. We do not train our non vet staff for this purpose as we feel only a licensed veterinarian should be performing ANY type of euthanasia. All of our facilities, both satellite and our home farm, is within 15 minutes of a major equine vet clinic— meaning we can have a vet onsite very quickly in emergency situations.
For the horses euthanized at Colby’s Crew, it was decided by and performed by a licensed veterinarian.
EVERY horse at Colby’s Crew receives a medical exam and if humane euthanasia is determined to be the best option by the examining veterinarian, and the situation is not urgent (e.g. fractured limbs, septic, 35+ year old horses that are colicking, horse down and unable to rise) we do have a second opinion from another veterinarian to CONFIRM the diagnosis. Often times the vets will discuss with each other treatment plans and diagnostics. Our vets work incredibly well together as a TEAM despite being from different clinics. We love and cherish every horse that comes into Colby’s Crew and want to treat them with respect, dignity and ensuring we do our due diligence in exploring ALL treatment options.
They follow the guidelines set by the AAEP. Here are the four major qualifications for humane euthanasia:
A horse should not have to endure the following:
* Continuous or unmanageable pain from a condition that is chronic and incurable.
* A medical condition or surgical procedure that has a poor prognosis for a good quality of life.
* Continuous analgesic medication and/or box stall confinement for the relief of pain for the rest of its life.
* An unmanageable medical or behavioral condition that renders it a hazard to itself or its handlers.
This is a case by case basis but in the majority of instances, no. We bring the horses to QT where they are fully evaluated by a licensed veterinarian and by our experienced quarantine providers. If a horse is stable but suffering from a chronic pain condition, irreversible disease or syndrome (neurological or DSLD), or has been determined a candidate for euthanasia we PREFER to give them a few weeks to a few months respite on pain medication IF their pain can be managed appropriately and they are not a danger to themselves or others.
They’ve just gone through the most horrible thing imaginable — a slaughter holding facility — so they deserve some time in green fields with nothing expected of them but to exist happily as pasture pets.
We have not yet had to euthanize a horse due to space. Our quarantine providers and sanctuary providers acreage totals up to 900. We could realistically support 800 horses in the rescue at one time (although we do not come anywhere near even half of that!). We are very fortunate to live in areas where land is very rural and plentiful. We are also very fortunate to have a fundraising platform that covers several months of the horses cost UPFRONT, therefore buying them time in our rescue to enjoy an honorable retirement and dignified ending. Did you know that our business plan allows us to keep running at current capacity for SIX months without needing additional funding? Ally has a degree in business management and it shows!
Its important to remember that we save from the REAL slaughter holding facility. Every horse that comes into our rescue was sentenced to certain death previously. They are the horses at auction that no private party or equine rescue bid on, and that they most likely have severe injuries or chronic pain / illnesses or syndromes. Their median age is 20+ and they are most likely coming out of the Amish after living a hard working life. We do not get a surplus of well trained and healthy 5-10 year olds as those horses do not sell for slaughter pricing even at auction. Our euthanasia rates will be higher than a smaller rescue who takes in less horses (e.g. they save 5 and put down 1, we save 50 and put down 10– the rates are equal but one SOUNDS like more if you don’t look at it that way) and they can pick and choose which ones to take on. We take them ALL which leads to us having a higher euthanasia numbers at no real fault of our own.
We patronize local farmers in the area and compost them. We also have buried some, and cremated a few special ones that Ally wants to take with us to our next farm (Asher, Symphony and Shane). These horses become special to our hearts like family members so their remains are treated respectfully and disposed of properly within the rights of state and local law.
*Ally or Olivia, the founders of Colby’s Crew. They will be able to sort your question to the best available party.
Some examples of those parties would be:
*Our medical director is Dr. Carly Mayer, a licensed veterinarian. She sits on our board of directors and she also helped develop our euthanasia guidelines and consults on most cases. She is now licensed in Maryland and will soon be licensed in Pennsylvania so that she can better oversee rescue operations and be available to assist our 7 other vet clinics we use in a leadership role. She is always available to answer questions about the medical side of our rescue.
*Our head of QT Veterinarian is Dr. Noel Henderson. He does MOST of the intakes of our kill pen pulls, and will now be on call while we are inside the pen going forward to assist in horses needing immediate triage, humane euthanasia and veterinary care AT the pen. This is a huge step forward as previously horses were having to be hauled offsite to New Bolton Center or Maryland for care. No longer will this be necessary! Dr. Noel is an incredible wealth of information and is licensed in VA, PA, WV and MD! He would be happy to answer questions about the medical side of our quarantine.
*Our quarantine providers: Joe Topper, Beth Walker, and Marlin Zimmerman. They see every single horse that comes into Colby’s Crew and would be happy to speak to our processes and how and why we do what we do.