SWFHR’s newest Rescue needs a name. We are looking for your help to name her. A $1 Vote Helps Us Name Our Newest!

Game ends Sunday, August 11th at 8 pm

Sorry no more votes allowed

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It is time to “Name the New Girl”

It was late (10:30 pm to be exact) on Aug 2nd when this little mare showed up at SWFHR.  We can not possibly say enough about our amazing community and how you all stepped up to help ensure this little horse did not fall through the cracks.  We’ve been hearing the details of how so many folks played a part in making sure she came to us for her, much needed, rehab.  As you all know, we tried very hard to get her released into our care but we were not successful, the community took it from there and made sure she made her way to us.  That, right there, is Rescue Strong and Community Strong!!  Thank you ALL!

Special thanks to the “Caloosa Saddle Club“, its members and other citizens of the community for their efforts to ensure this girl did not meet the fate that so many before have at the hand of hardened county policies that inevitably forced this mare to be sent to auction (a place that has no concerns about the future welfare of any animal that passes through its system).

“NOW she needs a NAME to suit her and we are asking for everyone’s help with it.”

From time to time we run a name game for new intakes with the intention that our community can be both a part of naming a new one and helping with the initial care that will be needed.  The way things work are rather simple… $1 gets you a vote for any name you want.  Yes, you can cast more than 1 vote. Yes, you can vote multiple time and for different names.  The voting is done by electronic payment through PayPal but we also accept checks towards the NAME GAME or donations directly for her care.

The contest will run until Sunday, August 11th at 8 pm.  At the close of the contest, the name with the most votes wins.

We may be running a “Name Game” to raise funds needed for her care but if you would rather just donate for her care, you can do so by donating to our New Intake Care Fund (NIC) Fund.

The Facts:

We don’t know much about this mare’s past.  We do however know some details pertaining to about a month before she arrived at SWFHR.  It was July 3rd, 2019 that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) responded to a call to investigate a horse (suspected to be about 15 years old) in bad shape and in the back yard of someone who wasn’t the owner.  This lead to:

Jose Antonio Gamez Azcanio, 71 (seen below) the owner of the mare, paint horse arrested and charged with tormenting an animal and permitting livestock to run at large or stray.

The mare (seen below) was confiscated by LCSO and taken to the Agricultural Crimes Unit’s impound lot (off Ortez Avenue) for holding.

The video below will fill in the details.  Afterwhich if you would like to read more about the facts associated with this case click the button “The Facts continued”.


1st off we want to make it ABUDANTLY CLEAR that the following is FACT ONLY.  Not to pass any judgments or cast suspicions. In the efforts of transparency we offer these facts for the purposes of enlightenment & education to process with respect to horse rescue.

The Facts (continued):  Just as many other situations like this, the calls from the community started coming in and asking SWFHR to help the horse in the custody of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO).  The fact is LCSO has never worked with SWFHR durring our nearly 10 years of operation and we don’t believe any other organization even remotely like us over the course of that same time.  However, as most all the times before, we did try to plead with the Sheriff’s Office for this mare to be brought to our facility, after cleared, to put her on a path to a bright future.  We had a number of influential persons that were on our side this time and together we made it further up the chain of command than we’ve ever made it before.  One person in particular who we will refer to further as “IP” or “Influential Person”.  The rest of the facts will be in cronological order.

7/8/19 – IP contacted SWFHR to find out what we could do for the mare in holding.  IP said that they would contact the sheriff themselves and get back with us.

7/9/19 – By the persuasion of IP to the sheriff  & phone correspondence between SWFHR and the liaison to the Sheriff’s Office (Colonel Rankine, James) a physical inspection of our facility was arranged, late afternoon, by representatives from Agricultural Crims Unit (Seargent Hodges and Tom Lewis) of LCSO.  Who stated that SWFHR was 1 of 4 facilities they were inspecting and wanted to make sure the capabilities of each facility would be able to do the job of rehabilitation while not bring bad credit on the Sheriff’s Department.  Later in the evening we were told by IP, who continued correspondence with Colonel Rankine after the inspection, that both found facility at SWFHR was more than capable to help this mare recover in a safe and secure environment.  Also SWFHR should be the facility out of all the ones inspected to recieve the mare once cleared by the administering veterinarian (Kathleen Neuvill DVM) of Van Rokel & Associates, Inc. (LCSO’s Veterinarian normally used in matters like this case).

7/10/19 SWFHR’s president (Tina Garrett) was contacted by Colonel Rankine to advise her that even though their deputies found the facility more than acceptable, the Sheriff’s Office was concerned about the impression on the community if they released this mare to SWFHR when they had others interested in her.  So the department wanted to keep things fair to everyone who wanted her and let everyone have a chance at her by sending her to auction.

At this point, SWFHR was back to the normal wall of no commitment and the normal process of LCSO to send all equines seized by the department (once cleared by the veternarian of course) to the Arcadia Small Animal Auction (2635 FL-70, Arcadia, FL 34266).

Things didn’t quite end there… continued conversation led to an offer of a donation by LCSO in order to aid with the purchase of the mare at auction.  This donation was to come out of the Sheriff’s Office budget and not any one individual (this is very important to understand).

7/11/19 Late evening SWFHR was emailed by Colonel Rankine:



Please send me your 501(C)(3) information as well as the address and point of contact for a donation.


Thank you,



Colonel Rankine,


The Board of Directors at South West Florida Horse Rescue (SWFHR) has carefully reviewed and considered your proposed offer of a donation by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (the department) to aid with agricultural auction expenses of an emaciated paint mare equine (horse) in your care and possession.


We, with all due respect, cannot accept a donation with a restriction of secrecy to obtain a resolution in this matter for the following reasons: Considering our obligation of transparency to the public as required by federal law, not only fiscally but operationally, the actions taken by SWFHR are to be fully disclosed to the public and its network of support especially when acquiring any horse for the purpose of rescue and rehabilitation.  Furthermore, it has been the long-standing belief and policy of our institution to not enable the operation of public auctions by rewarding those involved with monetary exchange for any equine. This does not coincide with our vison of making effective improvements for all the equine population in Southwest Florida.  We are a proven organization, specializing in the rehabilitation of neglected and/or abused equines seized by authority.  Your deputies that visited our facility on 7/9/19 as well as many other, both civil and governmental, references can attest to this fact.


We encourage the department to reconsider its plan to send this horse to public auction (a place that offers no checks or balances for the future of a life such as this horse) when there are better and more humane options.  We sincerely request the department to consider SWFHR’s offer to rehabilitate and re-home the horse with an open invitation to inspect the progress.  Also, we implore the department to continue to establish an open dialog with our organization (and other verified organizations such as SWFHR) going forward to aid and assist future incidents such as this.  We have earned the trust and respect of Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services, Collier County Domestic Animal Services, Palm Beach Animal Care and Control, and Hendry County Sheriff’s Office deputy Nelson also deputy White.  We invite you to verify the work we’ve done with them and who we are as a rehabilitation and re-homing facility.


Let us all work together for the good of the equines in Southwest Florida.



Very Respectfully,

7/12/19 SWFHR’s board members met to discuss the issue so far to this point as well as the offer of a donation for purchase.

7/15/19 SWFHR responed back to the previous email sent:

7/16/19 Message sent by John Holloway

Good Morning Ms. xxxxxxx:


Because my duties entail overseeing all areas of agency operations, and I am Chief Legal Counsel to the Sheriff, this matter to me for final determination.


I advised the Sheriff that, consistent with Florida statutes and law, animals seized by our deputies are seized, maintained and cared for at agency expense, then either sold at auction, or when appropriate and necessary, euthanized.


We are well-aware that Florida Statute(s) permit the Sheriff to “donate” seized animals to certain entities; however, doing so creates a vast number of issues and controversies potentially detrimental to the Sheriff’s Office’s interests.


For instance, when the Sheriff’s Office seizes an abused or neglected animals, Lee County taxpayers pay for:


–         The investigation and seizure of the animals;

–         Feeding, sheltering and caring for the animals after the seizures;

–         Veterinarian care required to allow the animals to fully recover and attain good health;

–         Related attorney, paralegal and court costs;


The end result is – routinely – the taxpayers’ investment through the Sheriff’s budget transforms an abused and neglected animal to a healthy  animal which is legally considered agency property.


I understand your entity has requested a particular horse – seized by the Sheriff’s Office and subject to this process – be donated to an entity you represent.   Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate this request.


The Sheriff’s Office policy to sell these animals at auction is based on the following:

–     Florida Statutes provide Sheriff’s Office the opportunity to recoup some or all expenses related to the seizure of the horse through its sale;


–         The Sheriff – utilizing the taxpayer funds entrusted to him – is fiduciarily required to recoup costs whenever possible;


–         The Courts may view the Sheriff’s Office’s petitions with regard to seizures with some degree of suspicion if judges believe we are donating animals seized with the court’s approval to entities at the Sheriff’s whim.


Other considerations that entered into the decision include:

–         We can say with certainty these animals (and this horse) – having received treatment and care to attain full health – and so it would seem at first blush these animals are not in need of rescue;


–         If we were to donate agency property to individual rescue organizations, it would be impossible how to fairly determine which entity seeking the animal should prevail – in effect the Sheriff would be placed in the position of “choosing favorites.”


The Sheriff has a remarkably strong record regarding investigation and arrests for animal abuse and neglect.  The time and resources devoted by the Sheriff’s Office demonstrate daily the dedication our deputies and detectives bring to these issues.


We hope this explanation resolves any questions or concerns you might have, and we look forward to working with your organization whenever possible toward a Lee County where no animal is abused or neglected.


Thank you for your assistance in this matter.





John Holloway | Chief Of Operations

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