The Hooved Animal Humane Society rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes lots of animals which can’t be treated by traditional shelters, but it doesn’t do it alone.

HAHS works to “benefit animals in general and hooved animals specifically,” said Tracy McGonigle, executive director. The humane society, formed in 1971, has called Woodstock home since 1990. The nonprofit organization seeks help from volunteers who are dedicated to the welfare of hooved animals.

HAHS hosts an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the third Sunday of the month at 10804 McConnell Road, Woodstock. People interested in volunteering can attend mandatory volunteer orientation at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 28.

The biggest part of HAHS’ work is its animal care program, which is largely focused on horses but also includes sheep, goats and potbelly pigs. There are about 65 rescue horses who live at the farm throughout the year, as well as others in foster care off-site, comprising a total of about 100 horses under the care of HAHS. The organization also participates in wild horse and burro rescue efforts and works to end soring, a process to exaggerate the movements of gaited horses opposed by many animal welfare organizations. 

Many of the animals which find their way to the HAHS sanctuary are found in states of severe cruelty and neglect. HAHS is often notified by concerned neighbors or passersby who observe the animals. A team of investigators trained by HAHS and certified by the Department of Agriculture is poised to investigate such reports and remove the animals. Abused animals are placed at the HAHS farm or with foster families, where they receive veterinary care and are nursed back to health. 

“The goal for every horse is to adopt them out to a loving home,” McGonigle said.

The organization tries to match horses to new owners based on the circumstances and temperaments of both parties, and there have been many success stories. 

McGonigle, who has been HAHS’ executive director for six years, said she appreciates “being able to help the animals on a large scale effort rather than one by one.” 

“[HAHS has the ability] to change the lives of animals who have found themselves in less than ideal circumstances,” she said, to help them “to become part of a family that loves them and see them turn around from being sick and weak to being strong.” 

There are several ways for people to become involved at HAHS. Volunteers interested in becoming certified investigators can take training classes to pass the certification tests through  the organization’s education programs. There is a fundraising committee for the organization that sponsors an annual picnic and horse show, as well as an online auction for equine equipment; fostering or adopting horses also are ways to help for those who have the ability. 

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