If you have a small girl child in your house, there’s a strong likelihood that one of her favorite books is called Misty of Chincoteague. There’s also a strong likelihood that she keeps asking for a pony because of this book. You see, Misty of Chincoteague is a real story, the story of wild ponies, two islands, young kids, and a Volunteer Fire Department. And sometimes, even decades after reading that story, your little girl child still has a bucket list item of wanting to go meet Misty.
There is a small, windswept barrier island off the Eastern Shore of Virginia where a small herd of tough little ponies live. This is Assateague. No humans live on the island. The humans live over on Chincoteague, which is another island between Assateague and the mainland. The two islands are separated by about 100 yards, so they are close, but not conjoined.
Most of the time, the sound of the waves and the wind and the sigh of the grasses are all left to the ponies. Humans only visit a couple of times a year. And during one of those visits, a magical event happens. Pony Penning.
Pony Penning begins when a group from Chincoteague go over to Assateague and round up the ponies. They’re called Saltwater Cowboys, and most of them are members of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department. These cowboys round up the ponies and swim them across the channel Chincoteague for a couple of days.
Young horses who are old enough are auctioned off. There’s a rodeo. And a lot of tourists come in and fill Chincoteague’s coffers, but mostly support the Fire Department. At the end of it, the cowboys swim the ponies back across the channel, and leave the horses to their salt grass and marshlands.
They’ve been doing this for 93 years.
But now, People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wants to end it all.
You see, this year, a pony died during its time on Chincoteague. This is sad.
So, PETA who is always going around looking for ways to end your fun put out a press release stating “This pony’s needless death is the latest proof that continuing to pen ponies and auction off their foals makes the Chincoteague fire department look increasingly backwards, reckless, and cruel,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in the release.
Except the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company is standing up to these bullies and fighting back. And they are doing it with facts, not just about the ponies and their care, but with cold, cruel facts about PETA.
Here’s the backstory on the pony’s death. She didn’t drown during the swim over, she and another horse were chasing each other around one of the pens when Butterfly Kisses slipped, fell, and slid into a fence, breaking her neck. Veterinarians on the scene said there was no chance of survival. They humanely euthanized her and buried on Assateague.
But PETA thinks she was treated “unethically”. Because they are joyless human beings who are so soul-twisted as to think that a pony dying during literal horseplay is a human’s fault. PETA claims the ponies are forced to swim, that they don’t get shade and adequate water during the penning.
The other day, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company said this about the incident:
We are aware of the untruths that PETA has stated in their latest attempt to fool the general public about our Pony Penning events. In their last letter to us which by the way was sent to me through a newspaper reporter, it wasn‘t emailed to me or mailed to me (unless it’s at the post office as I write this), they claim that one of our mares, Butterfly Kisses, was “chased into” the pen. Nothing could be further from the truth. She was already in the pen and had been there for over 24hrs. We have eye witnesses to prove otherwise. This is the same pen that she has been in numerous of times without incident. They also claim that we “force” them to swim. I have photos to prove that the ponies swim all the time on their own.
They also claim that while in the care of the fire Company during round ups that the ponies aren’t provided shade. Again, false and we have photos to prove that we provide shade when necessary. They also claim that while during round ups that no fresh water or food is provided to them. Again, false. There are at least a dozen water troughs at the carnival ground pens and hay is placed quite generously throughout the pen. Again, we have photos to prove that
While these ponies are out in the wild, they also have access to fresh water troughs in case the freshwater ponds are dry in the summer or frozen in the winter. During the winter, extra feed is provided to them. Twice a year, there are two complete vet checks. At these times the ponies get de-wormed, vaccinated for eastern and western west Nile disease, hooves checked, teeth checked and much more. All of the ponies that live out in the wild on the Virginia side of Assateague are microchipped with meticulously kept records of each one. When one is reported to be injured, someone from the pony committee is on the scene within usually a half hour. If the pony needs more care then the pony is brought over by trailer and seen by our vets. Same if a pony is sick. If the pony cannot recover then the pony is humanely euthanized and given a proper burial, not just tossed out on the marsh. At auction, the vet decides which ones can leave their mares at which time. If they are too young, then they go back with their mares until the fall. When each foal leaves our care and goes with their new families, a coggins test is done as well. Once again, while these ponies mean a great deal to the Fire Company, the town and the county financially, we are also human beings who see these gorgeous animals as the beautiful creatures they are and we handle them with the care and respect they deserve. If we did not do this event, these animals would end up over populating, eat themselves out of house and home, suffer diseases and injuries without any help at all. These are the facts about how we do what we do.
This is an excellent defense of the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and how they care for those ponies. But the response didn’t stop with self-defense. Here’s where things get a little salty, and I think it’s an excellent template for everyone to use when dealing with the unhinged desires of groups like PETA or the unwashed social justice crowd.
Since 1998 PETA has killed more than 36,000 animals. 95.9% of animals under PETA's care have been killed in one year! Yes, one year! PETA has handed out literature to children with a graphic comic stating that “your mommy kills animals“ while also funding arsonist and terrorist groups. Their own president, Ingrid Newkirk, stated “ it would be lovely if we stopped this whole notion of pets altogether”. [COMMENT—Does Ms. Newkirk have any pets? Like maybe 42 cats?]
In October 2014, members of PETA drove their van to the small town of Parksley, VA right here on the eastern shore and stole a pet dog off the porch of a family by coaxing the dog off the porch with treats. Within hours, the dog was killed. PETA broke two laws that day, larceny and euthanizing an animal before the 5 day hold period that is the law for kill-shelters. The family ultimately sued PETA and PETA settled the case with the family for $49,000 dollars.
In 2014, PETA killed 2,324 animals of the 2,626 it had acquired. It had a 1% adoption rate. A former PETA field worker testified that workers were misled in the field; they were told to lie as much as possible to gain access to an animal under the ruse that the animal would be sent out for immediate adoption but instead were immediately taken to a kill room. One worker quit on the spot when witnessing healthy, vibrant animals in the kill room. Another former field worker testified the PETAS objective was to get as many animals as possible and the vast majority was killed. She then testified that she was told to lie by her immediate supervisors to gain access to any animals and then told the same by President Ingrid Newkirk.
This is sick stuff. In fact, PETA is just another version of Planned Parenthood, except for our four legged friends.
So, remember this the next time some celebrity wraps herself in lettuce and stands on a street corner trying to shame you into veganism. She’s working with people whose sole purpose in life is not to save animals, but to kill them.