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Illinois Equine Humane Center, NFP

GUARDIAN PROFILE - Last Updated: 06/07/2018



Chief Staff Officer:  President and Founder

Employees:   Full-Time:  0  Part-Time:  0  Volunteers:  50

Does your organization utilize a management company for management and administration? No

Describe your training process for employees and volunteers and the types of human resource documents used in your organization including job descriptions, evaluations, etc. Each volunteer works under the President's guidance given the importance of properly learning how to handle and care for the horses. We also have a Volunteer Coordinator (we have two, each is a Board member) work with new volunteers and go through the New Volunteer Orientation material. We provide hands on volunteer training with an emphasis on safety of both horses and humans. Experienced individuals are directed to provide direct horse care, while inexperienced individuals begin by learning to do stable chores and eventually moving on to providing direct horse care, following extensive hands-on training.

Governing Body:

Board meetings per year:  8

Number of Board Members:  5  Number of Voting Board Members:  5

Board Compensation:

Is Board Chair compensated?  No  Is Treasurer compensated?  No

Are there any other Voting Board Members that are compensated?  No

Board Relationships:

Are any members of the Board or Staff related to each other through family or business relationships? No

Board Affiliations:

Are any Board members or Staff associated with and/or compensated by another organization with a relationship or business affiliation to your organization? No

Conflict of Interest:

Does your organization have a written conflict of interest policy and regularly and consistently monitor and enforce compliance with the policy, including requiring officers, directors or trustees, and key employees to disclose annually interests that could give rise to conflicts?  Yes

Additional Comments:
The ILEHC Federal 990 is posted on Guidestar. The Illinois 990 is posted at the IL Attorney General's website.


1. What percent of your total programs and services are horse-related? 100

2. Describe your specific horse-related programs services or activities:
     ILEHC's primary programs are related to horse rescue, rehabilitation and adoption. ILEHC is often called upon to assist horses that are victims of starvation, neglect or abuse. We also serve the Illinois equine community by accepting horses relinquished by horse owners who are unable or unwilling to continue to care for their horse. ILEHC also holds and attends events in order to educate the public and raise awareness of important issues relative to equine health and welfare.

3. Enter the total number of facilities/locations where the horses used in the conduct of your horse-related programs are housed and cared for: 1

4. Describe your non-horse-related programs, services or activities you provide, including those involving other animals. Not applicable, horses only. Although we have a number of cats who have made their way into our barn and were malnourished. We made sure they had veterinary care and were neutered or spayed as necessary and then placed into proper homes.

5. Does your organization operate programs involved with animals other than horses?  No


1. Describe your equine management philosophies, practices, policies and operations with respect to the use of the horses in your program, including the rehabilitation and retraining (if applicable), ongoing training, schooling and exercising plan for each horse and your policy as to the number and condition of the horses accepted by your organization. 
     Upon intake, horses are evaluated for temperment, soundness and overall health. A treatment plan for horses in need of rehabilitation is established by our attending veterinarian along with our President, Gail Vacca who is licensed Thoroughbred trainer with over 40 years as a professional horse woman. Once horses are fully recovered and rehabilitated, we establish a training or re-training program based on that horse's individual needs. Training focuses on preparing each horse for a discipline for which they are best suited. Some horses are sent to foster care providers that work with us specifically to help retrain our horses, while others are retrained at our home facility. The ILEHC generally has between 12-20 horses in its care at any given time. Because our primary purpose is to serve as an adoption center, and not as a sanctuary, we generally only accept horses into our program that we feel we will result in successful adoptions (we have accepted horses that cannot be adopted, so that they can live the remainder of the days in a peaceful and loving environment). Because we sometimes are unable to take horses into our physical care, we have established a program to assist horse owners and council them through the rehoming process.

2. Describe how your horses are acquired (adoption, seizure, surrender, donation, purchase, auction sale, retirement). 
     Earh year, the ILEHC takes in as many horses as our budget will allow; some are removed from the slaughter chain, others from abusive or starved situations. In previous years some of the horses were owner surrendered, although we make every effort to work with the owner and find proper placement when appropriate. Many of our owner surrenders are received following intervention by state and local animal welfare agencies. Other surrenders are received from owners who are no longer willing and/or able to care for their horse. When funds allow, the ILEHC sometimes attends low-end "kill" auctions to help those we can.

3. Describe under what circumstances horses leave your organization. Please describe in detail your horse adoption/fostering practices and procedures including any recruitment initiatives you have to attract potential adopters. Please include your policies and practices with respect to horses that are no longer useful or manageable and horses that need to be retired. 
     Because we are an organization geared specifically toward assisting adoptable horses, we seldom have horses that are no longer manageable or that are in need of retirement. That said, we do occasionally have such horses and in those instances we try to secure long-term foster care givers and/or financial sponsors. Adoption and foster care marketing is done both online (via our website, Equine.com, Facebook, Thoroughbred Connect, etc.) and also via events held at our farm and elsewhere within the state and local community.

4. For new horses, describe your initial assessment process for each horse (i.e. physical examination, test ride, health record, Coggins test, quarantine, veterinary consult, etc.). 
     Debilitated or injured horses are assessed by our attending veterinarian and our President, Gail Vacca. A physical and dental exam is done and radiographs taken (if necessary). Horses with unknown coggins, vaccine or health status are placed into quarantine for a period of 30 days. The ILEHC utilizes our foster care providers for this purpose as needed, as several volunteers have barns and no animals, so they make a great home during the first 30 to 45 days. Horses are vaccinated, receive dental and farrier care and coggins are updated if/when the horse is in sufficient physical health to proceed with these procedures. For healthy horses this is generally immediate. For debilitated or lame horses, we proceed and act under the guidance of our veterinarian.

5. Describe your overall horse health care plan and how you assess and monitor the health of your horses on an ongoing basis. Include a description of your vaccination and worming schedule. Include a description of your health/veterinary care plan for at-risk animals, geriatric horses and horses with serious issues. 
     ILEHC horses are monitored twice daily by our President, Gail Vacca who assesses and evaluates the health and well being of each horse. Horses are vaccinated and de-wormed upon arrival unless the horse is debilitated, in which case these procedures are not performed until the horse has sufficiently recovered and it is determined that the procedures will be unlikely to cause the horse further stress. Horses that have been in our program long-term are vaccinated each spring for EWE/Tetnus, Flu/Rhino, WNV, Strangles, and Rabies. Horses are re-vaccinated in the fall for Flu/Rhino only. Deworming is on a rotational schedule. At risk or geriatric animals are monitored daily for specific health and dietary needs and changes/adjustments are made accordingly. Our veterinarian is often involved in these cases.

6. What is the euthanasia policy? Please include specifically under what circumstances your organization will euthanize a horse and whether your organization will euthanize a healthy but difficult horse for space: 
     We believe the decision to euthanize should be based on humane or medical resons, rather than economic reasons. The ILEHC is not opposed to euthanizing unwanted horses that might otherwise become victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment or be sold to slaughter. Every effort is made so that is always a last resort action. The ILEHC has never euthanized a healthy but difficult to place horse. To date, we have euthanized three horses due to serious medical complictions; this is since 2008.

7. What is the breeding policy? Please include specifically if horses become pregnant while in your care, and if there is a no-breeding clause in the documentation your organization uses to adopt, donate, sell, etc. a horse: 
     The ILEHC adoption contract expressly prohibits the breeding of any adopted mares. Stallions/colts are gelded as soon as possible upon arrival. No exceptions. Should we acquire a pregnant mare which then delivers a foal while in our care, the foal is not weaned until six months, unless the health of the mare would necessitate an earlier weaning date.

8. Does your organization provide horses to any facility to use in research or medical training? 

9. If your answer to Question 8 is 'Yes', please explain where and for what purpose horses are provided to use in research or medical training?  NA

10. Does your organization sell, donate or give a horse to an auction? 

11. If your answer to Question 10 is 'Yes', describe under the circumstances where you have sold, donated, or given a horse to an auction, or where you would sell, donate, or give a horse to an auction. NA

12. Does your organization place horses in foster care? 

13. If your answer to Question 12 is 'Yes', describe how foster homes are selected, screened, and monitored and address all the questions below for each foster home in the space provided: 
     We have done this, foster care applicants are screened and selected via a very similar manner as our adoption applicants. Foster care providers must meet all stabling, experience and horse keeping requirements relative to the individual needs of the specific horse they will be caring for. Foster care givers are required to provide updates and photos/videos of the horses in their care and are required to submit a bi-annual veterinary report the first year, and an annual report thereafter. Often the foster care facility is within an hour or less drive from our farm and we are able to maintain oversight.

14. What is the average equine adoption fee/donation received by your organization: $501 to $750

15. Adoption Fee Policies
  Adoption fees may vary depending on the equine level of training.
  Adoption fees may vary depending on the equine age.
  Adoption fees may vary depending on the equine health and soundness.

16. What is your position regarding varying adoption fees vs. one set fee:
  Our organization approves of this concept.

17. Provide any additional explanation to your answers if needed:


This section must be completed for each facility/location where the horses used in the conduct of your horse-related programs are housed and cared for. For example, if the applicant is involved with horse rescue and utilizes foster care facilities, the applicant must complete this section for each foster care facility. If the applicant provides equine assisted activities/services to the public at more than one location, the applicant must complete this section for each location that horse-related services are provided. If your organization uses the facility of another organization, please enlist the aid of that organization in answering the questions.

Total facilities at which our organization operates horse-related programs: 1


Location 1 of 1
Illinois Equine Humane Center, NFP

45W050 Beith Rd Maple Park IL 60151

1. Facility General Questions

1. Name of Contact: Gail Vacca

2. Contact's Phone: 815-761-4937

3. Contact's Email: glv190@aol.com

4. Does your organization own, lease or use a part of this facility? Lease

5. If not owned, provide the name, address, phone, email and contact person of the organization(s) and/or individual(s) who owns the facility: Promise Equine Center, Gary Kempiak, P.O. Box 254, Elburn, IL 60119. 815.641.1384. GKempiak77@gmail.com

6. If your organization does not own this facility, does your organization have a written agreement with the owner? Enter Yes or No.   Yes

7. If your organization does not own this facility, please provide the following information below: Start date and end date of current written agreement (term) and what is the organization's plan for the end of the written agreement? 
     Commenced 5-4-2013, ongoing. ILEHC is currently pursuing its own barn.

8. If your organization leases or uses a part of this facility, please provide the details as to what services are provided by the owner and if and how the owner is compensated.. 
     The lease for up to 25 stalls and two pastures and is a flat monthly fee. The owner is responsible for manure and snow removal. Barn maintenance and landscaping to date has been completed by ILEHC volunteers.

9. Does your organization operate programs involving horses AT THIS FACILITY that serve individuals with special needs, including but not limited to equine assisted activities and therapies? No

10. Enter the total number of instructors/trainers (full-time and part-time) involved with your organization's horse-related programs at this facility: 1.

2. Facility Horse-Related Questions

1. Enter the total acreage dedicated specifically to the horses: 23

2. Describe the number and type of pastures and paddocks, fencing, enclosures, stabling including barns and run-in sheds. 1- 17 acre pasture with 50' x 100' run in shed. 1 - 6 acre pasture. 1 - 3 acre pasture (used only for rotation while our other 6 acre pasture is being re-seeded). We do not list this as acreage. 1 - small pasture used for horses that are new to the organization, that ILEHC is able to utilize when necessary. Barn is 26 stalls of which the ILEHC currently lease 20 stalls and has the ability to use up to 26 stalls. Stalls are 14'x 18'. 1 small indoor turnout or lunging area. 2 Indoor riding arenas (maintained by the main farm at this property, but to which we have unlimited access). All paddocks and pastures are a combination of wood fencing and no-climb mesh horse fencing.

3. Describe how you manage the use of your pastures/paddocks given the size and number of your pastures/paddocks and the number of horses you have at this facility.
     Rotate pastures as needed along with diligent mowing and harrowing.

4. How many hours of daily turnout do the horses get? (Estimate or Average) 7

5. Describe the area where your training, riding and equine related activities are conducted, including what type of footing/surface is utilized and what factors were considered to determine the suitability and condition of the area for the activities conducted.
     This facility has two indoor riding arenas (maintained by the main farm at this property, but to which we have unlimited access). The footing is a sand and clay mix which is suitable for all riding disciplines. There are also wide open spaces to ride as the farm encompasses approximately 400 acres total. A covered all-weather 3/4 mile track is also available for riding.

6. Is the facility in compliance with the Care Guidelines for Rescue and Retirement Facilities prepared by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (whether or not your organization is directly involved with rescue and retirement)? Yes

7. If no, please explain and specifically describe the areas in which the facility is not compliant. Not Applicable

8. If this facility is recognized as compliant with the published standards of another applicable organization, and/or accredited by another applicable organization, including any state licensure or registration process, please provide the details.
     ILEHC is a Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) approved facility. Also accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). ILEHC is also an Illinois licensed equine rescue shelter.

9. Describe the availability/accessibility of emergency horse transportation at this facility.
     ILEHC has ready trailer transport to Kendall Equine Hospital which is just 15 minutes from our facility.

10. Do the horses have specific tack assignments? No

11. Describe the plan, process and/or procedures to insure appropriate assessment of tack and the use for saddle fittings, tack, blankets, etc.
     All horses are tacked under the initial supervision of the President. Once the rider is comfortable with the tack, they are able to bridle the horse unassisted. Someone is always present when a horse is taken to trail.

12. Describe the system used by your organization to help staff and volunteers readily identify each horse on the property.
     A new volunteer does not work with the horses alone, so the training that occurs acquaints the volunteer with each horse. All horses have nameplates on their stall doors and geldings and mares each have a separate pasture. Some of the horses have their names on their halters. We ask that each volunteer review the bios of each horse on our website in addition to being oriented by a Volunteer Coordinator.

13. Describe your housing plan and the turnout process/plan for horses normally stall bound.
     Each horse has its own stall and is taken in during the evening. In colder winter months when the weather is brutal, a horse may have to stay a day in the stall but it is cleaned and of course each horse is fed and watered twice per day (warm water in winter months, cold water in warmer months). In the morning, when horses are turned out to pasture, the mares are taken out first to their pasture followed by the geldings to their pasture. A volunteer is permitted to take out one horse at a time using a lead rope.

14. Describe your feed, feed management plan and your guidelines for the use of supplements.
     Each horse is given sufficient amounts of hay and grain twice per day. In the pasture during the spring, summer and fall months in Illinois the horses are able to graze on grass. This may be supplemented with bales of hay should the summer sun/heat dry up the grass. During the winter months, large bales of hay are placed in each pasture. Water tanks are cleaned and replenished very often, daily in the summer. Some of the older horses are provided supplements for joints or hoofs, as deemed appropriate.

15. How do you use the Henneke Body Conditioning Score to guide you in your hennekeing/exercising/use practices for each horse?
     All of the ILEHC horses are of fine weight. We do use the Henneke Body Conditioning Scale when a new horse is rescued and the horse is evaluated by the vet.

16. Please describe your activities to limit or control the advent and spread of disease within your facility (Biosecurity plan). This should include but is not limited to your manure management and disposal procedures, your carcass disposal plan and your parasite control plan. Please indicate the role of your veterinarian in the development and implementation of your overall plan.
     Manure is removed from each stall daily and then removed by the Landlord from the property. Since the formation of ILEHC in 2008, we had to euthanize several horses due to chronic and deteriorating health. A disposal company was on-site and available at the time of the euthanasia. Horses are dewormed and given the obtaining of a smaller but still sufficiently sized pasture (can handle 3 horses and provide proper grazing space), we would use this space if needed. The vet is involved in every decision to euthanize.

17. Please describe your emergency preparedness plans that address weather related issues, fire safety procedures and/or any additional hazardous scenarios your facility could potentially experience.
     Fire extinguishers are placed at either end of the barn. The hay and straw is stored at the end of the barn which separates the stall area with a concrete cinder block wall from floor to ceiling. Volunteers are educated in barn and horse safety during volunteer orientation. To date, we have had only one instance where a severe thunderstorm was on the horizon and the President and a couple of volunteers, all who live within 5-20 minutes of the barn arrived and brought the horses into the barn without incident.

18. Please describe the security in place at the facility or facilities to restrict public access and to keep horses safe. Do you have a security system and/or on-premises caretaker?
     The barn is located on a large farm with one front entrance that is locked from 8pm until 7-8am. Keys to enter the premise have been properly distributed. A caretaker resides on the property and within yards of the ILEHC barn.

19. Provide the contact information for the individual or organization responsible for investigating abuse in the county where the facility is located, including mailing address, email address, and phone information.
     Kane County Animal Control 4060 Keslinger Rd. Geneva, IL 60134 630-232-3555

20. Other than the animal control authority noted above, provide the contact information for all local, state and/or national authorities with whom your organization engages to address issues impacting horse welfare, including mailing address, email address, and phone information.
     Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau of Animal Welfare at 801 E. Sangamon Ave., Springfield, IL 62702. 217-782-6657

Veterinarian Information

View The Vet Checklist conducted on 02/21/2018

Veterinarian: Kati Lukas

Clinic Name: Lukas Equine Veterinary Service    Street: 117 South Cook Str., Unit 209    City: Barrington  State: IL    Zip: 60010

Phone: 708-921-5284    Email: lukasequine@gmail.com

Instructors assigned to this Facility
(see Instructor Section)

     1. Instructor: Gail Vacca

3. Facility Horse-Related Inventory Questions

1-a. Enter the total number of horses involved with your organization's programs that are currently housed at this facility: 16.

1-b. Enter the total number of horses housed at this facility: 16

1-c. Enter the maximum capacity of horses at this facility: 25

2017 Horse Inventory

1-d. Did your organization operate programs involving horses HOUSED AT THIS FACILITY during January 1-December 31, 2017? Please select Yes or No. Yes

Additional explanation:Other costs totaling $24,400 are the barn and pasture lease.

15 2-a. Total number of horses housed at this facility involved with your programs on January 1, 2017.

           + 0 2-b. Total number of intakes other than returns including donated, purchased, surrendered or rescued.

           +  2-c. Total number of horses returned.

15 = Total of 2a-2c

           - 2 2-d. Total number of horses adopted during the year.

           -  2-e. Total number of horses transferred to another facility during the year.

           - 1 2-f. Total number of horses deceased during the year.

3 = Total of 2d-2f

12 2-g. Total number of horses housed at this facility involved with your programs on December 31, 2017.

            2 2-h. Total number of horses not retired including horses undergoing rehabilitation and/or retraining.

            10 2-i. Total number of horses permanently retired.

2017 Horse Care Costs

$     Feed (Grain/Hay).

$     Bedding.

$     Veterinarian.

$     Farrier.

$     Dentist.

$     Manure Removal.

$     Medications & Supplements.

$     Horse/Barn Supplies.

$     Horse Care Staff.

$     Horse Training.

$     Other direct horse-related costs not including overhead or other program costs.

$77928     2017 Total Horse Care Costs

$3250     2017 Total Donated Horse Care Costs

4380     Grand total of the total number of days each equine was in the care of this facility during 2017.

Average cost per day per horse: $18
Question 3 ($77,928 ) divided by Question 4 (4380).

Average length of stay for an equine: 292 days
Question 4 (4380) divided by total of Questions 2a-c (15).

4. Self Assessment

I. Facility & Grounds


Program Use of Horses for Special Needs at this Facility Not Applicable.

V. Instructors/Trainers

     1. *Instructor: Gail Vacca

         *Facility Participation:

         Illinois Equine Humane Center, NFP

Is the instructor certified by an organization that provides training in the programs, activities and/or services conducted by the organization? No

Please use the space below to share any additional information about this instructor. Gail Vacca has been an instructor and trainer for over 40 years. Her early career was spent showing hunter/jumpers on the New England "A" circuit where she won multiple year end championships and reserve championships. She has owned and operated boarding stables throughout her career and has trained and coached dozens of students and their horses to successfully compete at the "A" level. As indicated above, Gail is a licensed Thoroughbred Trainer who retired from training racehorses in 2002.