With the recent economic challenges, horses have been one of the silent victims of the downturn. All across the country, horse owners are voluntarily surrendering their animals, putting a huge burden on rescue organizations. But out of this crisis, some organizations have partnered with veterinary clinics and become a safe haven for these animals.
The relationship between The Oaks Veterinary Clinic in Smithfield, Va., and the Diamonds in the Rough Rescue is one of these bright examples.
Founded in 1966 as a mixed practice, The Oaks grew over the years and in 2004 evolved into a full- service large-animal practice with a strong focus on horses. Since then, they have seen a definite increase in the number of horses being surrendered or taken due to financial difficulties.
“We saw these cases on the rise, and a longtime client of ours started doing rescues out of her existing boarding facilities and asked us to help her out, which we were happy to do,” says Dr. Cathy Lombardi, DVM, who has been with The Oaks since 2004. “In 2010, she transitioned to a non-for-profit rescue, Diamonds in the Rough, due to the sheer volume of horses that were being surrendered.”
Two years later, Diamonds in the Rough takes in as many as 20 horses a month, and Dr. Lombardi has a standing Tuesday appointment to deal with the new horses and the existing ones in the program.
“Diamonds in the Rough has a program built around the four R’s — Rescue, Restore, Retrain and Rehome — and we are pleased that we can be part of that program,” Dr. Lombardi says. “We work primarily with the Rescue and Restore portions of the program to determine the rescues’ medical needs and to get them in adoption shape.”

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