Meet Gunner. He is our poster boy and his image graces our logo. Gunner was slaughter-bound in 2007. Horse advocate Sherry Van Wagoner of Phoenix AZ received a picture of Gunner on a feed lot from a friend in Washington state. Sherry bought Gunner and had him transported to Phoenix.
A few months after Gunner arrived Sherry found out she had leukemia. Despite being determined to defeat this insidious disease, Sherry began making plans for Gunner and her other two horses—Dakota and Warpaint—should such plans become necessary.
After a lengthy and courageous battle, Sherry lost her life in December 2009.
Sherry’s dream for her three “boyz” was for them to “just be horses!” And the lifestyle she dreamed of for them has been realized. Sherry’s Gunner, Dakota and Warpaint now live on a 200 acre farm in Minnesota. Before she died, Sherry asked me to take her boys and give them a happy life.
Gunner is a Thoroughbred. He was born in 1988 and is currently in excellent health. He is frisky, craves attention and possesses a flair for life. His spirit shines bright, his charisma irresistible. He shows arrogance that speaks of his self-confidence and at the same time is not abrasive. He is king of his pasture.
Sherry Van Wagoner was a wonderful, hard-working advocate for horse welfare. She held fundraisers and donated the funds to equine rescues. She worked with the Maricopa County sheriff’s office on horse welfare issues, traveled to Washington, DC to lobby for anti-horse slaughter bills and spearheaded small groups that raised funds for rescues.
Sherry and Gunner are driving forces behind the work we do at American Horse Rescue Network (AHRN). Sherry, in the face of adversity, forged on, helping horses in need, never looking back, never complaining. Her efforts provided a path of success for horse rescues around the country. Sherry, and people like her, are role models—paving the way for a safe and healthy future for our equines.
Gunner almost became an example of our throw-away culture. But today he thrives, happy in his lifestyle and providing joy to all who come into contact with him.
Yet there are other “Gunners” out there. Thousands of innocent souls who have been caught in unfortunate situations that find themselves in the hands of evil. When alerted to such situations, American Horse Rescue Network will inform our network members and offer financial and other support to help rescue equines from cruelty, neglect, abandonment and the threat of slaughter.
The real heroes in the fight to free our equines from danger are the people who run the rescues. They are brave, resourceful and often selfless. AHRN offers grants to qualified equine rescue organizations to help facilitate their rescue efforts and operations because these organizations must survive.
Sherry Van Wagoner dedicated herself to horse welfare. It was that journey that led her to Gunner. Now, in Sherry’s spirit and Gunner’s strong and imposing presence, AHRN forges ahead to save Gunner’s brothers and sisters.