History of BEHS
BEHS was formed in March 2005 by a group of horse enthusiasts who felt there was a need for a new rescue to help horses and other equines throughout Texas and Arkansas. The new organization was publicly announced on March 12th by President Jennifer Williams as an introduction to her talk entitled “How Rescues Help Unwanted Horses” at the American Quarter Horse Association’s annual convention in St. Louis, MO.
The organization incorporated as a Texas Non-Profit Corporation on March 14, 2005 and then filed to do business as a foreign corporation in Arkansas on March 21, 2005. Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society filed for and received certification as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization in 2005.
In the first year of operation, BEHS gathered over 180 new members and was able to help over 60 horses, donkeys, and mules in both Texas and Arkansas. The organization investigated over 50 neglect cases. Horses were seized from their owners in four of those cases and in four other cases the owners voluntarily surrendered their horses to BEHS. The rescue also placed 14 equines into loving, adoptive homes.
During BEHS’ second year of operations, the organization increased membership to 319 members, and the organization’s Arkansas membership more than doubled. The organization took in over 70 new horses and placed 36 into adoptive homes. BEHS received over 260 reports of neglect and was involved in several seizures and owners surrendered their horses in other cases. The organization also received its first grant, $9,000 from PETsMART Charities. The grant enabled the rescue to help even more horses than before.
2007 was another exciting year. The organization received its second grant, $5,000 from the ASPCA. The organization’s membership swelled to nearly 450. Bluebonnet took in 86 equines in 2007 and placed 58 into new homes. The rescue received over 300 reports of neglect, and Bluebonnet held the first annual Bluebonnet Horse Expo. The event was a great success - raising nearly $15,000 and increasing interest in rescue and rescue horses.
Bluebonnet grew even more in 2008. The organization’s membership grew to over 500, and the rescue took in 84 horses, participated in several seizures, and placed 78 horses with adopters. The Bluebonnet Horse Expo moved to a new facility and attracted more spectators than the year before.
Each year gets busier, and 2009 was no exception. The rescue took in 127 horses and worked with True Blue Animal Rescue to conduct the biggest seizure we had been involved with up to that point. The seizure involved 58 horses and four different agencies. Our membership grew to nearly 600, and we placed 92 horses with adopters. The third annual Bluebonnet Horse Expo was a huge success. BEHS also appeared on the front page of the Austin American-Statesman and on Nightline. You can see the Nightline piece at http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerindex?id=8333753.
Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society took in 78 horses in 2010 and we placed 128 equines into new homes, more than any previous year. We also implemented an adoption transfer program: adopters could transfer their adopted equine to a new person providing the new person applied and was approved through BEHS and signed a new adoption contract. Bluebonnet doesn’t charge to rehome horses, although the original adopter may charge an adoption transfer/rehoming fee if he/she so desires. The goal is to allow trainers to adopt horses, train them and then rehome them and recuperate some of their expenses. The rehoming program also allows people who have outgrown their adopted horses, suffer financial setbacks, etc., to place their horse with a friend or family member. Six adopters took advantage of this program in 2010.
2011 was a tough year: the economy meant there were fewer donations to the rescue (and other charities), but Texas suffered from one of the most severe droughts in the state’s history. This meant fewer people were fostering or adopting horses, but the organization’s help was needed more than ever before. We took in 107 horses but only placed 81 equines with adopters. A grant from the ASPCA helped us subsidize hay for our foster homes, allowing many of them to foster additional horses. The 2011 Bluebonnet Horse Expo was held in October in Austin and was a fantastic event for the organization.
Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society started 2012 by assisting law enforcement officers in several neglect cases. We took in only 47 horses in 2012, but we focused on placing horses taken in in previous years with adopters. 104 horses were placed with adopters in 2012.
In 2013, we took in 45 horses but placed 89 horses with new adopters. We also had the most success Bluebonnet Horse Expo to date: placing 25 horses with adopters during the Expo and raising $30,000 to help the horses of Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society. In 2013, we teamed with the University of Minnesota and Texas A&M University to help research the unwanted horse problem. Results from that study will be presented at an Unwanted Horse Summit in 2014.