HADDAM NECK >> At 2, Kai has already had a tough life and to add to it, he now needs a $3,500 surgery to make sure he cannot reproduce.
This Clydesdale Spotted Saddlebred mix was born with cataracts, had to be bottle fed and barely made it to today. The happy-go-lucky, in-your-pocket, curious colt has battled it all.
On top of it, one of Kai’s testicles has not descended, making the gelding procedure costly — and urgent.
“He needs to be gelded to have a normal life with more options for the future,” Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue founder and veterinarian Stacey Golub said. “He’s not breeding quality. Gelding will make him easier to train and a better partner for humans.”
Kai’s mother, Annie, was brought to the all-volunteer nonprofit equine rescue based in Haddam Neck after being on craigslist up in Maine. She was then not only transferred to a dealer, but an auction before CDHR got her and brought her to safety. She had been thrown into the same field with a Spotted Saddlebred stallion when she shouldn’t have even been bred, Golub said, because she had past cataract surgery.
“He’s a miracle baby,” Golub said. “However only one testicle descended and it’s not likely the other will on its own, so we must geld internally.”
The surgery Kai needs is called cryptorchid castration, which removes the internal testicle.
In a world where growing cat, dog and horse populations are out of control, spaying, neutering and gelding is more crucial than ever.
“Over 150,000 horses shipped to slaughter last year,” Golub said. “The thing is we need to cut off the supply end by preventing breeding.”
Golub said some of the main problems are overbreeding, backyard breeding and accidental breeding, all situations that pertain to cats, dogs and horses.
“I have seen too many unplanned litters of kittens and puppies that have been born with owners that cannot handle the cost or responsibility,” Middletown Animal Control Officer Gail Petras said. “We also have a real cat overpopulation problem mostly because some people let their cats roam outdoors without being spayed or neutered.”
For horse owners, choosing not to geld sets off a multitude of issues.
“Finding homes for stallions is hard,” Golub said. “They are more difficult to manage and some boarding facilities won’t take them.”
Like cats or dogs, stallions can also get out and get into the wrong fields with mares, breeding accidentally.
“Breed the best to the best, but geld the rest,” Golub said.
For horse owners, Connecticut Draft in Haddam has an annual gelding clinic where they geld for little to no cost.
“Since 2011, CDHR has gelded 35 stallions,” Golub said. “The average cost to geld usually is $500 or more.”
Along with providing the service to rescues, financial hardships and those most at risk for producing unwanted offspring, the clinic serves as a teaching method to veterinary students at Tufts University.
“It’s a learning experience vets students rarely get so early in their education,” Golub said.
The clinic, called the Testicle Festival or Operation Gelding, is scheduled for June 7 and is open to all equines including donkeys.
However sponsors are needed for the clinic to be successful. Interested donors can go to CDHR’s website where they can purchase a souvenir testicle keychain for a $25 or $50 donation.
The keychain, Golub said, may seem odd, however the idea is that it begins conversations about the importance of gelding, spaying or neutering.
“Right here in Middletown, businesses, residential areas, animal control and cat rescues continue to struggle with an abundance of abandoned, stay, and feral cats,” Becky Czlapinski of the Connecticut Association To Assure Love and End Suffering said. “A female cat can get pregnant as early as 5 months old. A female cat will continuously go through heat cycles throughout the years making her susceptible to countless unwanted pregnancies.”
Czlapinski said spaying and neutering is not only a help for the unwanted cat population, but helps reduce diseases.
“Spaying or neutering cats also decreases disease transmission such as of rabies, feline leukemia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and flea infestations and associated diseases such as cat scratch fever while also decreasing unwanted behaviors like crying, urine marking, aggression, and the urge to roam.”
According to Czlapinski, spaying or neutering increases the lifespan of a cat by two to three years.
“The Department of Agriculture has a program for low-income people where they can apply for state vouchers for up to two animals per person,” Petras said. “Both TEAM and HOPE accept the vouchers and the services are free with the voucher.”
Petras said she also has applications on her at all times to hand out to people who inquire.
“We also offer assistance with spaying or neutering feral cats,” Petras said. “We use donation funds to offset the cost and we do ask for a donation if the person is able to help.”
Petras can be contacted at (860) 638-4030.
“We need to open people’s eyes that there aren’t enough homes for every unwanted horse or animal,” Golub said.
To donate to Kai’s surgery fund, CDHR has a website set up for donations. So far, the group has raised $1,900 of the needed $3,500.
Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit draft horse rescue led by Dr. Stacey Golub, an equine veterinarian based in CT. Our team of rescuers also includes veterinary assistants, experienced horse people, trainers and farriers. We bail drafts out of slaughter broker lots, help place owner surrenders, and make trips to the auction to bid against slaughter buyers. Being run by a veterinarian allows us to provide medical and surgical care for special needs horses with less concern for expenses, and they receive the best of care under direct vet supervision. Once horses are vetted, quarantined, rehabbed, and evaluated for training, they are rehomed to local experienced horse people with a strict contract for their lifelong protection. We have been rescuing drafts with funds from our own pockets since 2010, and recently incorporated to be able to fundraise and recruit others.
Donations are always gratefully accepted. The costs of rehabilitating and rehoming horses only begin with the auction or broker price; the feed, medical, farrier bills and more create an ongoing need. Donations are tax-deductible due to our IRS 501(c)3 status, but please be assured we have excellent references and a track record of providing top-notch care for the good of our horses. Paypal donations may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact us if you would like to donate goods or services.
IRS Employer ID #35-2401003
CT Public Charity Registration #CHR.0055300