Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I met an extraordinary young woman at the racetrack recently. Dawn Mellen was at Santa Anita with her father to watch their horse, She's Cheeky, who ran third in the Santa Monica. As we chatted, I discovered that Mellen is not only passionate about horse racing; she is also very passionate about horse rescue and rehabilitation. So much so, in fact, that she is the President and founder of an organization dedicated to raising funds to support Thoroughbred equine rescue, After the Finish Line.
"People sometimes confuse us with an actual horse rescue," said Mellen. "We're the funding non-profit. The donations we receive are awarded to the Thoroughbred rescues throughout the U.S." After the Finish Line is a 501(C)(3) non-profit, based in San Diego, California, which supports Thoroughbred ex-racehorses and broodmares at rescue organizations while they await adoption.
"I had been involved in racehorse rescue for a decade, and over time I saw the rescues lacked funds to save and support their Thoroughbreds. Rather than opening another rescue, I wanted to be the organization that writes checks to help support them."
After the Finish Line donates to any qualified 501(C)(3) organization that has Thoroughbreds in need. Horses in need can come from the racetrack, the auctions, the breeding shed or just from someone who no longer wants them. Last year they provided support to 24 horse rescue and rehabilitation operations; this year they expect to provide funding to more than 45.
They will accomplish this by conducting fund raising events - such as the major fundraiser dinner and silent auction they will hold in Del Mar this summer - as well as through direct donations and grants.
"Last year when Eight Belles was injured and euthanized, I had a several people that donated in her honor," said Mellen. "Also, some people choose to donate a portion of their racetrack winnings."
Because she is also a racehorse owner and racing fan, Mellen has a unique perspective when it comes to Thoroughbred rescue. "We don't finger-point at the industry," she said. "We are not negative; we are racehorse owners who are compassionate about our horses. Taking care of those horses when their racing careers are over is the right thing to do."
For information about After the Finish Line, or to make a donation, visit their website.