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Oregon Horse Rescue Discusses Rescue Efforts And Help A Horse Day

Corinne Boyer

National Help a Horse Day is this Sunday. It began to help raise awareness about horse abuse and neglect. A large rescue in Lane County cares for several horses and is currently at capacity. KLCC's Corinne Boyer visited the Oregon Horse Rescue to check out the efforts of the nonprofit. 

Just west of Eugene, 49 horses graze on 70 acres. David and Jane Kelly founded Oregon Horse Rescue in 2012. David, a former city councilman, says the rescue began with four horses that were in bad shape. Some of the horses are available for adoption, but many of them are permanent residents.

Kelly: "We have taken on a lot of horses who are older, or blind, or crippled or all three. So for them they can't be ridden, they have medical needs that the average person is not going to be able to meet. So for those horses, which are the majority of our horses, this is their retirement home."

Last year, the Kellys spent tens of thousands of dollars on feed and vet care alone. Oregon Horse Rescue has received donations, but 90 percent of horse care costs come out of the Kellys' pockets.

Kelly: "The key to Help a Horse day is for everyone to think about how can they help these horses in need. If they know someone who is having trouble managing their horse, pitch in.  Help them care for the horse; contribute to their care if you can. If you know of rescues like ours or others, volunteer, donate."

Kelly says taking on unadoptable horses is one thing that makes them different from other rescues. 

Credit Corinne Boyer
Oregon Horse Rescue cares for horses that aren't eligible for adoption.

Kelly: "Well we like to joke that other than the cucumbers on the eyes, this is pretty much a spa. A lot of these horses have been through some very rough times. They've been abused; they've had injuries that were left untreated. So the purpose of them being here is to give them a good life for the rest of their days. They've got large pastures, plenty of hay, and supplemental feed as needed--the best of vet care. We actually have a chiropractor who does horse work and makes an amazing difference for them."

Boyer: "When you rescue horses, do you go onsite and rescue them? How do find out about horses who need to be rescued?

Kelly: "We've gotten horses a number of different ways. The most common is either the owner approaching us saying I don't know what to do I can't care for this horse anymore. Sometimes it's more callous than that--this horse has gotten old I don't want an old horse. We've also rescued horse from the Eugene auction to save them from being sold for meat. We've also gotten a couple of retired race horses."

Horse meat can't be sold in the U.S., but Kelly says it's feasible for meat buyers transport them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. He says four to six of their horses were saved from meat buyers. Kelly also rescued a cow destined for a slaughterhouse. The cow was abandoned by her mom across the street and after attempting to contact the property owners, the Kellys stepped in.

Kelly: "This is Moo Moo cow. Ultimately, picked her up, brought her across and bottle fed her. As you can see, she recovered to the tune of about 700 pounds."

Credit Corinne Boyer
Moo Moo cow was rescued and bottle fed as a baby. She now weighs 700 pounds.

Because Oregon Horse Rescue is at capacity, the Kellys have had to turn down several requests to save animals. The Kellys say more donations are needed to help the rescue stay afloat. They hope people will do whatever they can to help.