Aiken County, Equine Rescue partnership ‘great for the horse community’
Aiken Equine Rescue has assisted Aiken County in the past when care was needed for unwanted horses, but now the previously informal arrangement to provide help is official.
During its Sept. 18 meeting, Aiken County Council unanimously approved a consent agenda that included a resolution authorizing Council Chairman Gary Bunker to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the nonprofit on the county’s behalf.
Bunker and Aiken Equine Rescue President and Operating Director Jim Rhodes signed the document Oct. 5 during a short ceremony after the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce’s First Friday Means Business event at Newberry Hall.
According to the memorandum, Aiken Equine Rescue is the county’s animal rescue resource partner and will transport horses, donkeys and mules to its facility at 532 Glenwood Drive after the county takes custody of them.
The organization also will feed the animals, arrange for them to receive routine farrier and veterinary services, and try to find them new homes.
The county will pay Aiken Equine Rescue a one-time charge of $250 for each horse, donkey or mule transferred to its facility, plus $138.85 for every two weeks that the animal stays there.
Bunker said the nonprofit’s help is needed because the Aiken County Animal Shelter “normally handles dogs, cats and smaller animals, and it does not have the capability to handle horses” even though there is a large equine community locally.
In addition, Bunker explained, “It is much more economical for us to have a facility like Aiken Equine Rescue that we can use on an as-needed basis because the Animal Shelter doesn’t necessarily need a full horse type of facility if we aren’t going to use it all of the time.”
Rhodes is pleased that Aiken Equine Rescue and the county have a formal agreement in place.
“It’s going to be great for the horse community, and it’s going to be great for Aiken County,” he said. “Hopefully, we will never get called, but if there is a problem, we have it in writing now that we can help. We have the trailers to pick up the horses, and we have the expertise.”