Natalie Tavares, Humane Society Waimea shelter manager, checked the eye of a horse in July on the Big Island. The horse, which Tavares named "Amigo," had been abandoned in a pasture for more than a year. It was diagnosed with cancer and had to be euthanized Wednesday.
Abandoned, sick horse put down
The Humane Society says more animals are being mistreated
KAILUA-KONA » The brown and white painter horse had been abandoned in a Hawi field for more than a year when the Humane Society got a call this summer.
The horse had a weepy eye, but otherwise just seemed in need of some good care before he could be adopted like the hundreds of cats and dogs that pass through the Big Island's three animal shelters.
"We'll call him Amigo. He looks like a tough guy," said Natalie Tavares, manager for the Waimea Humane Society shelter after seeing the horse for the first time.
Organizers of the Hawaii Horse Expo 2008 in Waimea hope to raise awareness about horses like Amigo, one of a growing number of horses that are being abandoned, abused, neglected and mistreated on the Big Island.
Proceeds will establish an Equine Fund to care for abused and abandoned horses on the Big Island.
"We have to develop public awareness of the problem here," said Nancy Jones, expo organizer and owner of Circle J Horse Sanctuary in Waimea. "Traditionally, people here got it, but somehow things have changed. Animals have become as disposable as Styrofoam cups."
Unfortunately, Amigo's story ended sadly.
Veterinarians diagnosed the 10-year-old with cancer, which started in his eye and spread throughout his head. He was euthanized Wednesday.
Jones said the cancer may not have spread as far and become terminal if Amigo had been properly cared for.
"People don't want to read about stories like that, but it really shows what is happening," Jones said.
The expo, scheduled to last through tomorrow, offers lectures, panel discussions, live demonstrations, trail rides and farm tours. It will give horse riders and owners a chance to learn from the field's top experts.
Rick Lamb, author, radio and TV host of "The Horse Show," said his teachings are geared to the layperson as well as working ranchers and farmers.
"It's really understanding the motivation of the animal and using that behavior to get what you want from it," he said. "Humans are very good at using tools, planning and brute force to get what they want. Ultimately, that fails with a horse. You have to use the nature of the horse, rather than fight it."
Each year, the Hawaii Island Humane Society takes in more than 14,000 animals, including dozens of horses, at its three shelters.