“What in the world are they building?”
When we found her on that cold winter morning, she was laying in the weed-filled ditch, struggling to keep her head out of the muddy water. She was exhausted, her body temperature far too low, as close to death as a horse can get without just giving up. Someone held her head above the water, wiping the mud from her eyes, as we worked with ropes to pull her to drier ground. Even the cops, and there were at least six of them on the scene, ignored the cold wind and the mud to pull her to safety.
“We need to get a heated blanket on her,” the vet said. “She needs IV fluids if we’re going to save her.”
A week later we were on another call — a mare had been attacked by dogs after giving birth. The owner didn’t seem interested in doing anything, so the cops asked us to take her. The mare didn’t make it, but the newborn needed warmth, lots of milk and 24-hour care.
Later that week, we stood in a trash-filled lot as a law enforcement officer questioned the owner of an old gelding about getting him medical attention. The horse had tangled with a piece of barbed wire, cutting his back leg to the bone.
“He ain’t worth nothing,” the owner said. “I don’t have no money for no vet bills. Can’t you just shoot him?”
People have hospitals when we are faced with medical emergencies, but where do horses and donkeys go when they need immediate medical help? For years, Habitat for Horses had a special facility, called an ICU, for those special cases that needed 24-hour care. While we have always managed to provide the necessary intense care after our move to the Miracle Ranch, it has been difficult in the current make-do barn.
Last year, despite the pandemic, we signed the order for our new barn, plotted out the land, poured the foundation and… waited and waited and waited. “Supply chain issues.” “Not enough employees.” “The ship is off the coast in L.A., waiting to be unloaded.”
This past week, seemingly rising out of the ground, the walls started taking shape. One can sense where the stalls will be, the location of the supply room, the office. It’s almost like giving birth to a whole new facility.
What does this mean? It means we can continue giving the best medical care possible to those in need, but give it in far more sterile conditions, with warmth when needed, with power and true 24-hour care. It means being able to use the Anderson Sling to keep horses and donkeys standing up when they need to recover. It means keeping the severely injured at the ranch instead of transporting them to vet hospitals.
It means a chance at life when life is fading fast. It means love when love hasn’t been felt by an animal for a very long time. Thanks to every person who donated a dollar, to every law enforcement officer who said, “Can you help?” and to every volunteer and staff member who feeds, grooms, medicates and gives love to all the special animals. Thanks to all of you, we are finally watching the fruit of your labor.
What’s that thing they are building? That’s our new ICU barn.