Rescue Stories (Still being updated)
When Ann and John were involved with the Humane Society of Greater Miami, they helped implement a program called Safe Families, Safe Pets. Safe Families, Safe Pets allowed women who were victims of domestic violence and needed to go to a safe house to have their pet picked up by the Humane Society and kept for them until they could safely reunite with it. So, logically, when they helped found the Ashe County Humane Society, they established the same program. As fate would have it, the very first Safe Families, Safe Pets case in Ashe County involved Bud, a black gelding. Bud’s owner, whom we’ll call Jane, was a victim of domestic violence and, as is often the case, Bud had been abused, as well, as “punishment” for Jane. Jane was ready to leave the abusive situation and informed her abuser and, predictably, Bud was threatened by the abuser in an attempt to keep Jane from leaving. Jane was not about to leave and leave Bud in danger, so she called Ashe County Animal Control and they told her about Safe Families, Safe Pets. That evening, Ann and John were on the road to Jane’s farm. When they arrived, Jane was standing in the middle of a field with Bud on a lead, her cheek next to his. Ann walked out, Jane offered the lead to Ann and fell to her knees in relief. As Ann and John are loading the horse, Animal Control calls and says the abuser is “on his way” and is armed. AC arrives before the abuser and takes care of Jane, as Ann and John leave with Bud. Although he did not engage them, the abuser passed them as they were leaving with Bud in the trailer, and Jane was escorted to a safe situation by Animal Control. Bud came to the Sanctuary with Ann and John that night and stayed for about 8 weeks, when Jane was able to be reunited with him and take him home.
We raised John’s horse, Duke, since purchasing him at 4 months old and 18 months later took him to a training facility to be started under saddle. To keep up with Duke’s progress, we were regular visitors and got to know the other horses who were there to be trained, as well. Ann remembers seeing a beautiful little registered Paint Horse mare. She was a black and white tobiano with a sweet disposition. She had a gentle nature, kind expression and long white stockings stretching up to her knees. Seven years would pass before we saw her again. Before the owner was hauled off to jail on drug charges, our farrier had been called to come get the remaining 4 horses at this man’s barn. The scene would horrify even seasoned animal cruelty professionals. Horses had been left dead in their stalls and the same small black and white mare that we had seen at the training facility was found up to her knees in her own manure. Our farrier would keep the 4 survivors for a while, but this mare needed more. We brought “Darlin’ ” to SSFS and renamed her Libby Darlin’ in honor of one of John’s favorite Aunts to whom everyone was “Darlin’ ”. We treated her badly infected ears, had a tumor removed from one ear and over the next 6 months, added 70 lbs to her trim frame. Once healthy, we rode her, socialized her and began getting her ready for a new life. Although spirited, by Summer’s end, she would calmly trot past chain saws, weed eaters and moving cars. Libby Darlin’ was a fighter and that spirit kept her alive until better days finally came. A woman who had lost her beloved dressage horse was looking for a new riding and companion horse. The lady was small herself and well into her 60’s. Libby Darlin’ would leave SSFS for a lovely life with folks who would love and care for her just as we had. God speed, Darlin’!
Walker was adopted by friends at the Grayson Highlands Wild Pony Auction. The annual September event helps manage the three herds which can be found wandering the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands State Park in Southern Virginia. In addition to thinning the herds, the auction also raises money for the ponies' Winter upkeep on Mount Rogers' 5,729 foot summit where the Winters are brutally cold and windy.
Walker, adopted along with his sister Peaches, was now in a new home with a fresh stream and green pastures near the Blue Ridge Parkway, but when Walker went missing one day, a search party found the 4 month old pony collapsed at the edge of the woods with a serious eye injury and barely alive. Fortunately, Walker was small enough that John could pick him up and carry him across a stream and up a hill to our horse trailer. Our vet, who was a member of the search party and had actually found the colt, immediately started IV fluids and antibiotics. Walker required twice daily eye drops for 6o days and stayed at SSFS for the next 6 months while recuperating. We brought his sister to SSFS to keep him company and they remained throughout the Winter under the watchful eye of Chief, who became their veritable "Godfather". When Spring arrived, the fully recovered Walker and sister Peaches went home to join the herd at Sky Blue Waters Farm.
Prince came to SSFS in late Spring of 2011 through a local veterinary office. Alleghany County Animal Control had seized the horse when so many complaints were logged about a horse that was being starved. The owner was cited and the horse was removed to receive veterinary care. During his weeks at the vet’s office, Ann saw the pathetic horse. Having only seen one horse in worse physical condition throughout her years in rescue work, Ann said that if the owner would surrender the animal, she would bring it to SSFS. Instead, the owner wanted the horse back and, animal cruelty laws being what they are, the abuser paid the charges at the vet and the fine to the County and the horse was returned to him. Two weeks later, Prince was badly injured when he had been turned out with another gelding who bit and kicked him to keep him away from the limited food and water. Prince was returned to the vet with multiple, severe wounds, the worst being a bite at his withers which resulted in a severe case of fistulous withers. The painful, hot, spurting masses erupted continuously over 4 months. After multiple courses of antibiotic injections and twice daily expressing and cleansing of the wound, Prince finally healed. Within 8 months, Prince had gained over 250 lbs. The pathetic, wounded, starving Bay gelding who painfully backed off of our trailer in May 2011, would not be recognizable now. Although sleek and shiny with a flowing black mane and tail, there will always be traces of the indentation at his withers. He will remain on joint supplements for the remainder of his life to ease movement, but he is turned out daily with his friends Luna and Big Frank – the old folks club. Other horses might have simply quit the fight to keep on living, but Prince seemed to know that God wasn’t done with him, yet.
Teva, Caspar, and Shorty
A lady stopped by the farm one day and asked us if we would be able to “foster” some animals from a friend of hers in a neighboring State. The friend was the casualty of a difficult and painful divorce and she and 2 of her 3 children were moving nearby, but had no place for their large animals. Realizing that we didn’t have proper fencing for her sheep, llamas and pigs, we did agree to take her 3 equines until the family and animals could reunite. Teva, a 16 hands+ Quarter horse, Caspar, a large snow white, one eyed pony and Shorty, an overweight miniature horse would soon become part of SSFS lore. Teva had been crippled after backing into an electrical fence. He managed alright, but although the injury seemed to be more in the stifle, the old horse was compensating by not using his back left leg, so his mobility was limited. He would need to use his badly atrophied back left leg in order to rehab it, so that process began. Shorty, a sweet, but rotund food hog, simply needed to be on a diet, so we raised the food trough for the other 2 horses, so that Shorty could only eat his food and no one else’s and he soon dropped 50 lbs. Caspar was another story entirely. He had arrived with blood and drainage seeping from the socket where his right eye had been. Although the current owners were told that a veterinarian had removed the eye, a closer look revealed that the socket tissue and tear duct were still present. The eyeball had, apparently, burst after a wire fence line had popped and it had not been properly cared for before Caspar came to live with his current family. SSFS had the remainder of the eye removed and properly stitched shut. The pretty white pony had already adjusted to being half blind, so now he just had to heal. Teva, Shorty and Caspar stayed at SSFS for 8 months until the family could find, fence and prepare their new home and then the whole “crew” was reunited.