Many in Martin County would be surprised at the many community minded organizations and groups that exist throughout the county that provide services and opportunities along with information that help to meet the needs of the people and their surroundings with educational exposure for success of all forms of life. The Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation (ERAF) is one of those organizations that provide services to the community as advocates and caregivers of horses that once were left hopeless after being abandoned, surrendered, neglected and or abused. The ERAF helps Martin County and the people of Martin County helps them with the Sheriff’s Department, volunteers, schools, Chamber of Commerce, et al, giving and receiving as all work together interchangeably to save the horses.
On Saturday, May 23, many gathered at the ERAF (Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation) at its 6400 SW Martin Hwy location in Palm City to celebrate the foundations 15 successful years of rescuing and finding homes for horses brought to them for care (also celebrated one year since the completion of their most recent barn on the premises). The Martin County Sheriff’s Office was well represented with their Agricultural Crimes Division spokesperson Detective John Barca providing a wealth of information as to how the Sheriff’s Office’s Agricultural Crimes Division (headed by Sergeant Thomas Smith) along with his partner Detective Robert Smith, act as liaison on behalf of Martin County to intercede when reports of abuse, neglect, abandonment or any unfortunate circumstances occurring that hinder the well-being of horses (including obtaining court orders and appearing in court when criminal charges must be filed against abusers).
According to Detective Barca, ERAF is a safe haven for horses where they bring them for care while transitioning them into the foundations custody so that after much care, nourishment, Veterinarian attention, etc., the horses can be legally adopted and placed in homes that meet all of ERAF requirements and standards (click here for adoption information and application). Detective Barca was very thorough while being interviewed about how concerned citizens give the Agricultural Crimes Division information about horses that may be endangered and that he and his partner Detective Smith look for any signs of endangered horses as they do observation cruises around the county. Detective Barca said that they have placed as many as eleven horses and donkeys in ERAF’s care at one time.
Martin County’s Sheriff’s Office helps saves horses with the help of ERAF, and they also utilize horses in their elite group known as the “Sheriff’s Posse”. The “Sheriff’s Posse” was established in the mid 1980’s by the then sheriff, James Holt, and consist of ten volunteer members on horseback that perform at events, parades and aids in manhunts, etc., where horses have better access. A riding demonstration was performed by one of the volunteer “Sheriff Posse” members displaying skill and talent as to how horses are trained to assist. Another part of Martin County’s Sheriff’s Office present at ERAF’s birthday celebration was the MCSO Barbeque Grill Team which provided many tasty treats and was well received and appreciated by those in attendance.
Meeting with ERAF’s president Denise LeClair-Robbins was a delight and privilege to be in the presence of someone so dedicated and loyal to the cause of rescuing and placing in “forever homes” horses that have suffered some form of misfortune along the way. President LeClair-Robbins stressed the fact that since horses live for 25-30 years or more, they seek to place horses in their care into environments that will be lasting and that completely meet the foundations requirements and guidelines for adoption (click here for detailed info provided at website).
The president was very informative as to the role schools play with the ERAF and as well how ERAF serves schools and the educational process. ERAF provides educational tours for many organizations including the 4-H groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, day cares, home schooling (and Alzheimer’s Support Groups where the therapy horse, Rozlyn, has visited nursing homes and made guest appearances at community events). ERAF also provide community service hours for students at South Fork High School enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Program (some students plan to become Veterinarians that participate).
LeClair-Robbins indicated that ERAF has representation as a member and active participant in the Palm City Chamber of Commerce, the Martin County Chamber of Commerce and a frequent speaker at local service organizations such as the Rotary, PEO, etc., in advocacy, solicitation of volunteers, donations and delivering a message to groups that encourages responsible breeding and feeding programs. The ERAF website has valuable information for all that are interested in volunteering, donating, adopting or just being informed of the plight of some horses in Martin county that the Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation (ERAF) and the community-at-large is rescuing, restoring and making good horses available for adoption.
Saturday, May 23 was truly a day of celebration of the cooperation and goodwill the community gives to ERAF and the reward that ERAF presents to the people by caring, loving and providing homes for one of the most beautiful, dependable animals that have served man well from the beginning of time, the horse. “Celebrate the work that has been done and look forward to greater breakthroughs in success now and in the future.”