An outbreak of equine Strangles has made its way into the herd of horses and ponies at Westernaires - a non-profit organization in Jefferson County, Colorado - causing financial losses of up to $15,000 per week. More than 80 of the 230 Westernaires equines have come down with cases of the illness which is easily spread when horses come in contact or share water. Strangles can also be passed from caretaker to animal, but is not contagious to humans.
March 3rd is "303 Day" -- an unofficial/official celebration of everything that is Colorado!
Reports of the disease throughout Colorado's Grand Valley began in March. Veterinarians feared that the disease could become widespread if not contained and warned equestrians to use caution.
Symptoms are similar to strep throat and include fever, nasal discharge, and enlarged lymph nodes. Although Strangles is not deadly, it can lead to painful abscesses and anorexia.
The sick animals are being monitored by veterinary teams and will be kept in quarantine for up to six weeks to prevent further spread of the disease.
Westernaires has been training young people to ride and care for horses since 1949. They promote pride, responsibility and discipline in kids through western riding, precision drills, trick riding and dressage. There are no paid employees, and the modest membership fees and horse rental charges are channeled right back into the program.
On this Mustang Monday, we’d like to celebrate a prodigious Westernaire horse – Dottie the American Mustang.
The non-profit made the difficult decision to restrict public access to the animals when the illness struck a few weeks ago. They are offering limited practices and rentals, and have temporarily banned outside horses from the property.
Their caution and diligence in preventing the spread of Strangles has led to major revenue losses that the organization depends on. Westernaires has reached out to the equine community for help in this difficult time, and a GoFundMe page was created to help cover veterinary costs and other expenses.
Supporters of the beloved non-profit have already raised more than $19,000 of the $30,000 goal! Westernaires director, Glenn Keller is sincerely grateful and hopes that others will be inspired to pitch in when they learn about the organization's noble mission.
“I don’t think you’d have to be around horses to appreciate what our program is because our program is about kids,” Keller said. “If you’re around kids and you think kids are worth the future that we hope for them, then they’re worth donating to help."
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H/T to CBS Local Denver