New York Times bestselling author Sara Gruen came to the Largo Library recently and gave the hundreds in attendance a wonderful presentation on her book, Water for Elephants. Afterward, she signed copies of the book, posed for pictures and cheerfully conversed with everyone who engaged her.
However, later she privately shared with me her passion for another of God's most majestic creatures, the horse, and her fear that the shortage of a vital food for horses could lead to starvation.
Those of you who visit Sara's Web site, www.saragruen.com, know what I'm talking about.
Severe drought in the South has led to a drastic shortage of quality hay and blighted grazing pastures. The winter months have exacerbated the crisis. Many horse owners have been forced to send their horses to slaughter or simply set them loose on back roads to fend for themselves, which is next to impossible.
As a result, horses are dying. Equine rescue organizations are stepping in, but without the help of good people like Sara, and you, they don't have enough funds to import quality hay, the cost of which is now staggering.
Thanks to the efforts of Sara, as well as other writers and veterinarians, the plight of horses is slowly becoming public, but much more needs to be done. Wealthy horse owners will find a way to get hay, but the average horse owner is in desperate need.
Here's where we come in. Have you heard the inspirational "Starfish Story"? A little girl is walking on a beach covered with thousands of starfish that washed up with the tide. She begins picking them up one by one and throwing them back in the ocean. A man walking the beach tells the little girl her efforts couldn't possibly make a difference. She picks up another starfish and throws it back into the sea. Looking up at the man she says, "Made a difference for that one."
We can make a difference for the horses in need, one horse at a time. Every little bit helps. Sara asks for your help by contacting the Fairfield Equine Foundation Hay Fund, which she cofounded, at www.fairfieldequine.com. I've been assured that every penny donated goes directly to the purchase and import of quality hay from other states. Your donation is tax deductible.
Sara, we loved your book, enjoyed your talk and share your love of animals. Count us in.
Lester Aradi is chief of police in Largo.