Starting a Rescue Facility

Q. I live in Florida, and I am researching private equine rescue facilities. I am interested in starting one in my area. I see a great need for it! Any info that you could send my way would be appreciated.



A. Rescuing horses is very rewarding work, but it's also very demanding work. And without a well-thought-out business plan, it's easy to get in over your head. It would literally take pages and pages to tell you everything you need to do and know to open your own rescue, so the information has been summarized into a few main points to get you started:

  • Purpose--Limit the scope of your activities to one or two areas.
  • Fundraising--Try to accumulate a year's worth of operating expenses first. Sometimes government funds are available.
  • People--You'll need a board of directors, volunteers/staff, a veterinarian, etc.
  • Facilities--Don't forget to check your local zoning ordinances.
  • Paperwork--Be prepared to draft your own articles of incorporation, bylaws, and federal tax exempt application letter.

If you haven't already done so, please make sure you really know what you're getting into by visiting the web sites of existing equine rescues and, more importantly, visiting their physical facilities. In fact, volunteer or even work at one so that you gain first-hand experience and knowledge about rescuing horses. No one's trying to discourage you from starting your own rescue, it's just that you might find that your time and talent is more effective helping someone else with their operation.

Useful web sites include:

About the Author

Lydia Gray, DVM, MA

Lydia Gray, DVM, is Medical Director and Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak Equine. She was previously the executive director of the Hooved Animal Humane Society in Woodstock, IL, and an Owner Education Director for the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

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