HARPS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by nationally recognized animal advocate, Donna Ewing, who played a key role in the passage of the 1973 Humane Care of Animals Act. The mission of HARPS is to continue promoting and providing humane treatment for animals – specifically horses and other hooved animals – through rescue, rehabilitation, education, and legislation. In pursuing its cause, HARPS strives to make a positive impact on humanity as a whole.
As a longstanding resource for horse and farm animal welfare, HARPS has carried out hundreds of rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption missions. For example, in 2008, HARPS oversaw the rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption of the 40 Belgian draft horses that survived the horrific double-decker trailer accident in Wadsworth, IL, in which 19 horses were killed. In 2014, HARPS led the rescue and adoption of 75 abandoned and neglected Quarter Horses in Hampshire, IL. HARPS also carries out singular and small rescues – an abandoned donkey in a backyard, or a small herd of starving goats left behind when the owners moved.
On a daily basis, HARPS receives calls from concerned citizens about possible cases of neglect and starvation. Each call is screened, and if warranted, state certified investigators are sent to the location of the animal(s) in jeopardy. HARPS works closely with animal control, law enforcement, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture to secure justice for abused animals. If owners refuse to abide by the state humane laws the animal may be impounded and a hearing in the circuit court may be set. Thirty percent of our investigations can be resolved through owner/caregiver education and supervision. Owner/caregiver refusal to comply with Illinois law will result in legal action and animal impoundment.
HARPS’ rescue facility serves the needs of impounded neglected and/or abused horses and other hooved animals. Abused animals are taken to our rehabilitation farm where they are assessed, and then provided all necessary veterinary treatment and starvation refeeding diet. The animals are assessed by licensed veterinarians and provided 24-hour care during initial recovery process. Once restored to health, they are evaluated for adoption. Horses not appropriate for adoption are given life-long sanctuary at our facility. HARPS also offers an Assisted Adoption Program that acts as an adoption network for those who solicit our aid in non-emergency circumstances, such loss of job or owner death, in finding homes for their horses and other hooved animals.
Breaking the cycle of animal abuse is inextricably connected to education. HARPS provides educational clinics, seminars, one-on-one seminars, telephonic consultations, and an extensive online resource library for the general public to increase knowledge and understanding of proper care and treatment of horses and farm animals. In addition, HARPS assists local emergency first responders in dealing with situations involving loose horses or other farm animals.
The rehabilitation successes HARPS has carried out in bringing animals back to life from near-death conditions have led to the creation of the HARPS Equine Assisted Learning Program. Using a model of pragmatism and inspiration, the Equine Assisted Learning Program is an inspirational experience for children during their own rehabilitation and works with educators and counselors to provide therapeutic experiences for underserved youth, children with autism spectrum disorders, and other special needs individuals.
HARPS continues to bring this awareness and first-hand experience to others. In an effort to break the cycle of violence for children and animals, our education program allows children and adults the opportunity to engage and interact with our rescued residents awaiting adoption. Teaching future generations about stewardship of the land and its fellow creatures allows for stimulating, healthy activities that will help open new avenues for learning, and new possibilities for life’s work while building confidence and self-esteem through interacting with these impressive animals.
The rehabilitation success we have experienced with animals in near-death condition, brought back to vibrant health with proper care, is an inspirational experience for people. Visits to our facility can offer real hope and a powerful visual representation that loving care and understanding, diligent work, and the unselfish help of others can bring about remarkable change for both humans and our animal partners.
Here at HARPS we have over seventy collaborative years of experience in rescuing horses. The main goals of our organization continue to be the rescue, protection and rehabilitation of abused horses and other hooved animals, as well as educational and legislative advocacy.