Rescued from the streets of Juárez, Mexico, a horse named Rafael soon will retire to the pastures of Grass Valley.
The horse, who pulled carts overloaded with scrap metal and junk items, was emaciated and deeply wounded when rescued, said Shelley Frost, director of the Center for Animal Protection & Education, which operates a sanctuary in Grass Valley. Soon, Frost said, Rafael will become the face of the group’s nascent effort to improve conditions for Mexico’s working animals, or “beasts of burden.”
The nonprofit group has been rescuing elderly, injured and abused animals since 1992. After learning of the horse’s plight through another organization, Compassion Without Borders, the center raised $6,000 for his care and transportation to California, Frost said. Rafael will need ongoing treatment for malnutrition and kidney disease, she said. He has injuries from beatings and a harness that had become embedded in his skin. At the time of his rescue, she said, Rafael was too weak to stand.
CAPE, through a petition signed by more than 63,000 people, is urging the mayor of Juárez, Enrique Serrano, to improve standards for working horses, mules and donkeys. “We decided that maybe we can make a difference with beasts of burden in Mexico,” said Frost, and Rafael will be the face of that effort.
Frost said the group hopes to rescue more working animals in need of help and bring them to its 10-acre sanctuary about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento. CAPE collaborates with a larger rescue group, Animal Place, which spans more than 650 acres.
The group has worked with a veterinarian in Mexico to bring Rafael to Grass Valley, with his arrival set for Sunday. “Rafael, who has lugged heavy carts all of his life, will arrive in a trailer,” said Frost. “It’s a new twist for him.”
The horse will join a group that includes goats, pigs and donkeys. He will be CAPE’s first horse, but likely not the last, Frost said.
For more information about Rafael and CAPE, go to http://www.capeanimals.org.