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News Feature

Brooksville
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 4, 2019
Rescued by local nonprofit, Birdie finds a new home
Bagaduce River Equine Rescue’s first adoption

From rescue to adoption

Birdie’s new family is Tina Hall, who spent time with the Bagaduce River Equine Rescue mare before bringing her to Washington, Maine, to her forever home, and renaming her Naja.

Photo by Kelly Saunders Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

Founded barely one year ago as a nonprofit, Bagaduce River Equine Rescue has completed its first adoption. Birdie, a 15-year-old mare, stepped onto the Brooksville farm last August from a Texas kill pen, with each of her ribs in stark relief despite a two-month quarantine before the 3,000 mile trip.

Last month, hundreds of pounds heavier, she traveled to her new home in Washington, Maine, with Tina Hall, who adopted Birdie after seeing her biography on Facebook.

“She chose me,” Hall said soon after Birdie’s arrival. “Believe it or not, she has a different disposition with me than with everyone else. She seems a little calmer.”

After finding Birdie on Facebook, Hall called, and then visited several times and even learned her training routine. A horse owner for over 30 years, this was Hall’s second rescue adoption.

Birdie’s story, like those of most rescued animals, is a rough one. “Before the kill pen, she was taken by the Waco, Texas, sheriff’s department from a property that was about one acre in size and had seven horses (most of them tied to trees) with no food or water.”

But the “rescue” by the Waco sheriffs went only as far as the kill pen where Kelly Saunders, founder of the rescue center, found her while scrolling through its website.

“She was actually the first face I saw, and because of her, the past year has happened,” Saunders said. She found her two other rescue horses, Chester and Tommy, on the same website, and the three horses arrived in Brooksville together. But Birdie is the first to find her forever home.

“She has physically healed, but the scars of her past will always be a part of her,” Saunders said. “She started to trust, and I could tell she was starting to see the good parts of life and was leaving her past behind her.”

Saunders said Birdie’s stall will remain open until she knows the adoption is a good fit. “She will always have a home here,” she said.

But once Saunders is assured, she’ll begin looking to fill the empty stall. “No one can tell whether it’s going to be a donkey or a horse—either would be fine if they need help,” she said.

As a 501(C)(3) organization, contributions to Bagaduce River Equine Rescue are tax deductible. A rescue horse costs between $575 and $800, plus transportation and, if needed, quarantine to regain health before traveling, as in the case of Birdie, Tommy and Chester. Veterinary care, training and food are ongoing expenses.

Saunders is also in the process of getting licensed as an emergency shelter for abused or neglected horses that are seized by the state, which means adding a quarantine pen and shelter. “We have room for [them] but haven’t raised the money,” she said. “We hope to some day have more stalls and run-in sheds so that we can have more than four animals, but for now, four is our limit.”

Blossom, a donkey, was the first rescue equine that Saunders took in, and the Brooksville farm is her forever home. Saunders hopes that when Tommy and Chester, are ready to leave, the right person will adopt them.

“Every horse is different and will need different things from their adopter, so what worked this time may not work for Tommy or Chester,” Saunders said. “But having the first [adoption] be a great experience made everyone know that what we are doing is a good thing. These horses, that have been thrown away, deserve to live, to be loved and make someone else happy.”

Birdie in Maine

Birdie photographed after gaining hundreds of pounds at Bagaduce River Equine Rescue in Brooksville.

Photo by Kelly Saunders
From rescue to adoption

Birdie’s new family is Tina Hall, who spent time with the Bagaduce River Equine Rescue mare before bringing her to Washington, Maine, to her forever home, and renaming her Naja.

Photo by Kelly Saunders
Birdie in Texas

Birdie needed two months of quarantine after Bagaduce River Equine Rescue purchased her from a Waco, Texas, kill pen, above, before she could travel to Brooksville.

Photo by Kelly Saunders