Since their retirement earlier this year, Danada Equestrian Center's bonded pair of draft horses, Rosie and June, have been the subject of adoption rumors and "should they stay or should they go" dialogue.
DuPage County Forest Preserve officials put an end to those conversations Tuesday, saying the horses that have pulled sleighs and wagons for the past 15 years deserve to be treated like family.
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"As of now, we're putting a moratorium on adopting Rosie and June, at least until we have an executive director and can re-look at this. For now, no more adopting Rosie and June," Commissioner Shannon Burns said. "It's not fair to the public when there's all this upheaval going on and it's certainly not fair to the horses."
President D. "Dewey" Pierotti, likened the horses to his childhood dog and later to his own children's pets that were always considered "part of the family."
"We need to come up with a formal plan that really indicates and substantiates what we're going to do when animals reach retirement age and are no longer able to do what they're supposed to do. In this case Rosie and June have done a lot of service for the people of DuPage County and certainly for the forest preserves. I think they should be treated like part of the family," Pierotti said. "My long-term position is let's not do anything until we revisit and come up with a formal policy. A short -term plan is not to do anything. Let's treat these animals with the dignity and respect they deserve."
Several Danada volunteers, many of whom feared the retired pair would either be adopted for slaughter or put back to work, applauded Tuesday's decision.
Volunteer Jane Muklewicz attended Tuesday morning's meeting prepared to ask the board to enact a moratorium.
"This is a great step forward and the public will benefit as much as the horses and the Danada volunteers," Muklewicz said.
Burns, who also had proposed the creation of an ambassador program aimed at keeping the retired horses prominently featured at Danada, said that idea also has been pushed aside.
"With today's decision, there is no need to have further discussion about the proposed ambassador program. I think we're all done talking about it." Burns said. "Given that we're so close to making a decision on our executive director and so close to the holidays, it would behoove us to wait on anything new. The new guy with be coming in with 100 things already on his plate; (there's) no sense in adding 100 more."