Owner: zvika tamuz, from israel
After leaving school, Zvika eventually found work as a private investigator, developing a niche as a pet detective, helping owners of lost pets to locate their missing animals. By now, he was living in the countryside, on a small holding, riding horses in his spare time.
When carrying out his pet detective work, he visited animal rescue centres, searching for missing dogs and cats. He came across donkeys and horses in trouble and he realised that there was a lack of decent facilities to care for larger animals.
Zvika offered to take an occasional animal back to his own small farm, and soon he was caring for a steady trickle of neglected donkeys and horses. He enjoyed this work: he gave the animals food, shelter and veterinary treatment, and when they'd recovered, he would do his best to find them new homes.
Word spread about Zvika's unofficial animal sanctuary, and he found himself being called whenever there was a donkey or horse needing assistance. If a horse was found abandoned, the municipal officials phoned him. If the police found an injured donkey beside the road, they called too. And if anyone came across a working horse or donkey suffering from the ill effects of over-work and poorly fitting harnesses, Zvika was summoned to rescue the animal. Soon, the occasional equine rescue cases developed into a daily onslaught of calls. His resources were stretched to the limit.
Four years ago, he received help from an unexpected source. A delegation from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (www.wspa.org.uk) was visiting local dog and cat organisations to review the stray animal situation. The subject of horse and donkey rescue came up, and Zvika's name was mentioned. When the WSPA officials visited his premises, they could see at once that he needed help.
International resources were mobilised, and within days, cartloads of hay arrived on Zvika's doorstep. This was followed by a visit from an experienced advisor, who helped Zvika transform his voluntary animal rescue operation into a well-organised horse and donkey sanctuary.
Zvika became the chairman of the board of directors of a new charity, called Pegasus, which became the country's largest and busiest horse and donkey rescue organisation.
These days, Zvika rescues around 150 horses and donkeys every year. Calls come in from all over Israel; his mobile phone may ring at any time of day or night, summoning him to the next crisis. Whenever this happens, he has to drop whatever he's doing, heading out with his horse box in tow to bring the animal back. He has to deal with some shocking situations.
Some animals are so badly traumatised that euthanasia is the only option but, in most cases, Zvika is able to work with his local vet to restore them to full health. He is able to re-home many animals, but he has a core of long-term residents who have become his friends.
Zvika is a busy man, but he's contented: hundreds of horses and donkeys have had their suffering relieved because of his hard work and dedication.