Friday, June 12, 2020

MSSPA’ s ‘Feed and Care Bank’ a lifeline for horses, owners in need

Remy, a 6-year-old Tennessee Walker horse living
on a farm in Cumberland County, was helped this spring
by a donation offered by the Maine State Society
for the Protection of Animals. The program assists
equine owners in need with hay, veterinary care and
other essentials on a temporary basis.
By Ed Pierce

The fourth year of a unique assistance program offered by the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals has been its most challenging yet, but a growing need is evidence that its value is substantial among those caring for horses.

Founded in 2017, MSSPA’s ‘Feed and Care Bank’ provides temporary, emergency assistance for Maine horses in need and helps equine owners with stop-gap funding that can be used for hay, feed and nutritional supplements, farrier or dental services, routine vaccinations, and veterinary care.

According to Kathy Woodbrey, MSSPA assistant CEO, about 28 applicants have received funding from the ‘Feed and Care Bank’ program in 2020, which she attributes to the effect of the COVID-19 economy on horse owners. 

Woodbrey said applicants for assistance may have lost a job or been furloughed from work, suffered a health issue, or even been challenged by a tough hay growing season.
“And we’re seeing that the pandemic has caused some people not normally in need to seek help,” she said.

The average amount of funds a recipient typically receives from the program is about $250 to $300 per animal and it allows horses to remain in loving, healthy homes and to avoid further interventions.

MSSPA Vice President and CEO Meris Bickford said the “Feed and Care Bank’ program support the organization’s ultimate vision of eliminating equine abuse and neglect.

“We are so moved by circumstances and the applicant’s stories are so compelling when you know they will need a bigger boost,” Bickford said. “The best thing about this assistance is that it prevents horses at risk from coming into the program.

The MSSPA was originally formed in 1872 to protect the horses who pulled Portland’s streetcars and fire engines. It now offers shelter services for equines across Maine with access to veterinary medical care and maintains dozens of equines at its South Windham facility.

Potential applicants for the “Feed and Care Bank’ program can either complete a short application form online or can call the MSSPA to give details by phone. MSSPA staff or volunteers then will visit with applicants, check references, and may conduct on-site visits, as needed.

Once a determination of eligibility has been made, assistance in the form of hay, grain, supplements, farrier services, dental services, and/or routine veterinary well care and vaccines may be provided for recipients.

To qualify, applicants must be Maine residents with horses stabled in Maine.

The MSSPA is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) and receives no federal, state or local funding, but rather is funded by a combination of donations, bequests, grants, and fundraising activities. It uses its resources to provide direct care to equines who have suffered abuse and promotes humane treatment, training, and the use of animals through education and hands-on experiences.

“It is very important for people who need the ‘Feed and Care Bank’ program to know that we’re not judging them, and we encourage them to apply if they need help,” Bickford said. “We want horses to stay out of the system.”

To apply for help from the ‘Feed and Care Bank’ program, visit or call 207-892-3040.

Anyone interested in supporti8ng the ‘Feed and Care Bank’; with a donation can do so by visiting or by calling 207-892-3040. <

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