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"Miracle" horse saved once faces health crisis; needs your help!

Snickers after leaving Cavel, covered in bites and kicks, blinded.
Snickers after leaving Cavel, covered in bites and kicks, blinded.

Never let it be said that protesting those who would abuse or even slaughter animals is a waste of time.  Such protests saved the life of a group of horses and even led to the closing of Cavel's, a horse slaughter house in Illinois. (Snickers and her newborn foal, Willie)


The amazing story of Snickers, a blind mare,  and her foal, Willie, came out of this tragic nightmare.  Scheduled for slaughter in a group of 33 horses, they were loaded onto a flatbed truck and shipped off to Cavel via a short stop at a Cheyenne Stockyard.  Here is part of the story as written by John Holland.

"....There the horses were unloaded and given what was supposed to be the last food and water of their lives. The next leg of their journey began the next morning and took them the remaining 900 miles to the Cavel slaughter plant in DeKalb Illinois. Their truck arrived, and parked outside the plant during the night of Wednesday, March 28th.
As the night bore on, five other trucks arrived and pulled up beside Snicker’s. Snickers could hear the whinnies and banging of hooves against metal. The acrid smell of the fumes from the idling diesels filled the air and mixed with the odors of fear, urine and manure. Shortly after dawn her truck pulled out and backed up to the loading dock. As Snickers and her companions were run down the loading chute, they found themselves in a holding pen unlike any they had ever known. It was designed to keep prying eyes outside from ever again seeing the horses that were unloaded into it.
If the trailer had smelled foul, this place wreaked of chlorine disinfectant, blood and death. It was a terrifying odor. The sounds of machinery echoed around the concrete and steel cavern and mixed with the calls of the horses and the shrill whistles of the men driving them from the safety of catwalks. Soon they would be driven up a chute and into a metal kill box where an operator would put a pneumatic captive bolt gun to their foreheads and try to render them unconscious. They would then be hoisted by a chain wrapped around one hind leg and have their throats cut, allowing their still beating hearts to empty the blood from their veins. A thousand horses had met this fate in just the previous week in this slaughter factory.
But there was a delay. Men in white coats clustered together and spoke to a woman. She was the USDA inspector who had to be present if the horses were to be slaughtered for human consumption. She was telling them that she was being withdrawn from the plant and that they could not continue to slaughter horses."

Animal Advocates, hearing of the plight of these horses, who had been returned to the Cheyenne Stockyard, worked overtime to save the 33 horses from starvation, dehydration, and injuries sustained from being couped up inside a trailer with a Stallion.  Snickers would find herself one of eight horses rescued and taken to a human Equine farm.  There, it was discovered that she was pregnant. (Newborn Willie - Pictures by Dawn Mancina)

Snickers gave birth to Willie, a miracle in that he survived inside the womb despite the near fatal ordeal suffered by his mother.  

Willie and Snickers would find themselves among the rare and few lucky ones to be adopted by someone who fell in love them both.  Dawn Mancina first took Willie home to be a part of her family.  She named him after her father, who passed from this world just as Willie entered it. 

Willie thrived with Dawn's family, growing by leaps and bounds.  Still, Dawn felt something was missing, and she knew just what that was; Snickers!  So Snickers was reunited with her child and became a part of the Mancina family.  All was well, until....

Nearly three years later, Willie has been diagnosed with a Sarcoid tumor on his neck.  His surgery is scheduled for 10am tomorrow (June 11, 2010).  The vet will be surgically removing the actual sarcoid (and sending it for histology).  She will then impant 5 Cisplatin beads (chemotherapy) at the site of the sarcoid.  He will most likely be given pain meds and antibiotics following tomorrow's procedure.This tumor threatens his young life, so hard fought for, and Dawn is trying to do everything she can to help him.  

Unfortunately her financial reserves are not as large as her heart, and she and her family are struggling to provide the necessary medicines, surgery, and post-op care Willie will need to remove the tumor and give him yet another chance to live his life with those who love him so.

 It's for them, and for Willie, and every animal saved from the jaws of death at the hands of animal abusers that this article is written.  Willie's fight isn't over yet.  He needs you!  If you'd like to help, please visit this website designed specially for the brave little horse and his care.  

Willie enjoys having the run of the property at his home, behaving more like the family pooch than a big horse.  He greets all visitors and friends with whinnies and licks.  His inner light shines so bright, it would be heartbreaking to see it extinguished so soon.     

Interested persons should visit Get Well Willie for more information about how they can help.

All articles by Michele Gwynn are under copyright and cannot be re-posted whole without written consent by the author.  Partial re-posting with a link back to the original article is permitted.  For consent, questions, or comments, email

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  • maggie 5 years ago

    Thank you for bringing Willie to everyone's attention. This little horse is loved by lots of people.

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