Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Save the Mustangs
Hollywood comes to Hot Springs - Film star and animal rights activist Stefanie Powers shares horse stories with Dayton O. Hyde, owner of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, before a press conference announcing the "Save the Mustangs" program.
Save the Mustangs
Actress Stefanie Powers holds court at Sanctuary
HOT SPRINGS - On a flawless Black Hills day, with the pristine prairies and green hills in the background, a group of about 35 people from all walks of life converged upon the Wild Horse Sanctuary to begin a joint effort to save wild mustang herds from slaughter. Recent media attention has attracted Ford Motor Company, the makers of the popular Ford Mustang sports car, who have jumped on the bandwagon with film star and animal activist Stefanie Powers, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Take Pride in America to help save about 2,000 wild mustangs that currently face an uncertain future. "The Ford Mustang is America's iconic sports car and takes its inspiration from the wild mustang, a true icon of American freedom," said Ford's Chairman and CEO Bill Ford.
Last week 32 of the mustangs were delivered to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary ("WHS"), after being rescued from certain slaughter. While stressed from travel and compromised health, the horses were in stable condition and ready to meet the press Thursday, when the auto maker announced it will provide aid to save the mustang population. "The wild mustang embodies the passion, spirit and heritage that are an integral part of the American experience," said Bill Ford in the company's press release. "We felt compelled to do what we could to help preserve these beautiful, legendary animals," he said. The company was initially contacted by Powers, who learned of the animals' plight. Powers is well known for her work with animal preservation through the William Holden Wildlife Foundation.
To help provide a means for the public to contribute to the ongoing care of the horses in their new habitats, Ford has established the "Save the Mustangs" fund. Contributions to the program will be managed by Take Pride in America and are tax-deductible. Take Pride in America was created in 1985 to preserve and maintain American public lands and historical sites and has evolved to protect places and things that symbolize the American spirit. Through its Wild Horse and Burro Sponsorship Program, which offers a variety of sponsorship levels to assist wild horses that have been placed in holding facilities, Take Pride in America is heavily involved in the effort to preserve wild, free-roaming mustangs and burros.
"This is an example of government partnering with corporate America," said Jon Harmon of the Ford organization, as he introduced the various partners in the Save the Mustangs campaign, including Powers, who said, "we're all in collaboration. This is a good guy story." Powers, who epitomizes Hollywood glam with her movie star cowgirl attire, was every bit the lady on location. As beautiful and charming now as she was 20 years ago, Powers expressed great delight in the scenic attributes of the WHS. "It's so beautiful here," she said as she viewed the expanse of prairie and canyon from the visitors' center. Her love for animals was evident in her inquiries about local wildlife, especially wild turkey. In her opening address to the crowd, she said, "This is a positive answer to a dilemma we have right now of the rescue of these horses," who were in a separate corral enjoying sweet feed before being turned out to pasture. While some of the horses' ribs were showing, they did not appear too scraggly and, according to WHS's Hyde, "mustangs are always lean." The other 19 horses are under quarantine and are expected to arrive next week.
Wild horse lovers can learn more about the issue and can help support the cause by visiting www.savethemustangs.org.