Last month, a horse rescue center in western Wisconsin that needed to come up with money fast to buy hay for its horses. If it didn't come up with the money in time, the center was going to have to give away or put down some of its horses. It was a scary time for those at Refuge Farms, but those fears have now vanished.
"I was actually constructing a list of the horses that live at Refuge Farms and trying to come up with a way to evaluate and determine who should be euthanized," remembers Executive Director Sandy Gilbert. "And that is an ungodly spot to be in."
Because of rising hay prices, Refuge Farms couldn't afford to keep the more than 20 horses it has rescued over the years. They were about $9,000 short and asked the public for help. That came just hours after the story aired.
"I turn around in the middle of cleaning the buckets and there is a gentleman that walks in the barn that I have never met before," Gilbert says. "He walked in and he handed me an envelope and he said Sandy, we just saw the spot on the news and we want to help so here is some money for hay."
In that envelope she found a check for $1,000. And that's how it all started. People started coming into the farm's thrift store in Menomonie; donating so many items they have had to stack them up to the ceiling just to fit them inside. The farm also held a raffle on Labor Day and raised more than $7,000 while continuing to see the public respond.
"Here comes a family, an entire family walking down the driveway. In the family is a little girl, little blonde hair, I can still see her and she has a ziplocked baggie in her hand. That little girl sold Kool-Aid on the corner in Woodville to raise money for the horses," Gilbert explains.
Those in charge of the horses say they can now sleep at night; something they couldn't do before.
"So now I go in the barns in the morning and I hug every one of them and say you are safe. We are going to be able to feed you. You are okay now," Gilbert responds. "The euthanizing list is ripped up and gone off the wall. Everybody is going to live."
Refuge Farms says it has already called its hay supplier and ordered the hay it needs to get the horses through the end of winter.
St. Francis Horse Rescue and Retirement Farm in Rosholt is also facing a funding shortage. They are holding a Cowboys in the Kitchen event next month to help feed the farm's 20 horses, and you can help! You can find all the information here: http://sfhronline.org/