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Farm animal rescue group gives horse a second chance

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Sometimes, “old school” thinking is, well, too old.  We all grew up thinking that if a horse suffers a serious leg injury, it’s time to put him out to pasture, so to speak.  That’s no longer necessarily the case, thanks to organizations such as the Argyle-based Ranch Hand Rescue, a North Texas farm animal sanctuary and rescue headed up by Bob Williams.

Mr. Williams and his rescue crew are in the charitable business of stepping in and helping out when farm animals are in crisis situations.  The facility, located alongside their American Pet Spa & Resort on Hwy 377 in Argyle, is one of a very few that are able to care for these larger animals.

Williams explains, “We work with law Enforcement when farm animals are about to be seized for animal abuse and neglect, when people are about to get arrested for these crimes. Our Animal Cruelty Investigators work with Law Enforcement and Prosecutors to supply the needed follow-up for successful prosecution of these cases. Recently, the Humane Society of North Texas asked us to take a four year old horse, Midnite, that was missing a hoof.”

Just how did that happen?

“We don’t know.  We believe it was a birth defect. The owner surrendered the horse to avoid prosecution. He was awarded to the Humane Society of North Texas. They asked us to take him because we have a sanctuary and knew he would be protected here. This horse, the size of a pony, was so weak it couldn’t lie down, as it wouldn’t have been able to get up.  It was so mistreated it was 175 pounds underweight, and was quite sick.”

Without getting too technical for those of us who didn’t ace biology, Williams adds that if a horse needing a hoof has a coffin bone, much like an ankle bone, the animal  can often be fitted with a “boot” that will act like a hoof.  You’ve probably already guessed correctly:  Midnite doesn’t have a coffin bone.

Therefore, Midnite will require surgery in which the leg will be amputated above the hock.  After this, the horse will need to be fitted with a prosthetic leg.  Midnite finally gets a good break here.  A young girl saw a story about the horse, and recruited her father’s help.  Billy Roundtree, who works at Prosthetic Care of Fort Worth, got his boss to donate the $7500 titanium leg.

But, Midnite’s not out of the woods yet, far from it.   One could say that the prosthetic price, above, is for parts, not labor.  The surgery could conceivably run anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000.

Undaunted, Williams plows forward with optimism, “We’re hoping that the amputation will be done before Christmas.  Then, Midnite will be put in a cast for several months before fitting him with the prosthetic. 

As you’d expect, Ranch Resort is searching for ways to cover the costs.  Anyone’s help is appreciated, or, better said, needed. 

Williams hopes to get part of the money from a fundraiser.  “We have a huge concert coming up on Thursday, December 16th at the Mule Barn in Justin (located at 218 FM 156 in Justin, TX 76247) called Honky Tonk for Horses.  Doors open at 5:00 p.m., and the entertainment starts at 6:00 until closing. There will be lots of bands and a silent auction. Our goal is to raise $10,000.”

Is Midnite an isolated case of abuse?

“I wish,” Williams laments.  “Currently, we’ve had three euthanasia cases that we intervened with and prevented.  These horses are now happy, healthy, loving horses.  In fact, we have 27 horses in various states of rehabilitation.  In addition we have four investigations underway in Texas totaling another 21 animals. On top of that we get two to three calls per week from individuals suspecting farm animal abuse.  We try to save any kind of farm animals.  If they can be nurtured back to a healthy state, we try to adopt them out.  Otherwise, we care for them by adopting them into our Sanctuary where they will live in a safe, controlled and protected environment for whatever time they have left. We give them back their dignity and provide all the love they can handle.

“We also help abused llamas, goats, sheep, plus smaller animals, like ducks, geese, miniature horses, and chickens.”

“Besides this big fundraiser, American Pet Spa & Resort offers their facility for Christmas parties and birthday parties throughout the year. The Pet Spa has a beautiful pavilion folks can rent out for events. They donate a generous portion of the Proceeds to Ranch Hand Rescue.”

Williams lives his passion, getting emotional when he talks about the root problems.  “We’re working with state representatives, senators, and other groups to toughen the laws.  Right now, while it is a felony to abuse an animal, it’s only a misdemeanor to starve one!  We want that changed, as well as provisions for restitution enacted into the laws.”

Williams’ non-profit facility helps out with many causes.  “We work with all sorts of organizations, with autistic kids, those with cystic fibrosis, AIDS, inner city youth – elderly groups, too.  On December 11th, we’ll have our annual Christmas party for the orphans who live at the Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home.  Marty & the staff of American Pet Spa & Resort decorate the resort with thousands of lights and animations. We have music, food and of course Santa. Every child will get a gift.”

“People can all us for more information or to help out at 940-464-0985 or look us up at www.ranchhandrescue.org.”

Ranch Hand Rescue is located at 8827 Hwy 377 in Argyle.

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UPDATE: 3/21/11

Dear Friends,

We are thrilled to report that yesterday, Midnite received his Prosthetic Leg. If you’re not familiar with Midnite, let me share some of his story with you.

Midnite was seized by Law Enforcement for abuse & neglect and was awarded to The North Texas Humane Society. Our friends at HSNT asked us to take him because we have an established Farm Animal Sanctuary in Argyle, Texas.

Ordinarily he would have been euthanized due to the fact he is missing a hoof & coffin bone. Midnite was underweight, malnourished and extremely depressed. In addition he was missing his coffin bone and hoof. Midnite walked on 3 legs, could not run and was extremely depressed. In addition he had great difficulty laying down and getting up. His rehabilitation process has been lengthy and quite costly but worth every cent. 

First, we had to get Midnite healthy and bring him out of his depression. Second as he gained weight, HSNT arranged for a boot to be donated by Soft Ride. The purpose of this boot was to teach Midnite how to reposition his weight and build muscle in his bad leg. Since we could not afford a custom boot Soft Ride donated a used boot to us and we started working with Midnite immediately. The process was lengthy, as we had to tape the boot on each morning and remove it each night. In addition Midnite’s leg needed to be massage and powdered every evening. As he got used to the boot, he learned how to redistribute his weight. This was important because as Midnite got healthy and came up to his normal weight our Vets were concerned he would break his hip and most likely his good rear leg. These injuries in a horse like Midnite are life threatening. In addition, several other medical issues could arise.

We thought originally that we would have to amputate Midnite’s leg and then build a Prosthetic leg for him but we got to thinking if they can build a Prosthetic for a human limb deformities could they do it for a horse.  Prostheticare, Fort Worth LP took on the challenge. We met with their representatives, our Vets & staff and concluded it was possible.
The process has taken a couple of months because we had to do several fittings. The Prosthetic is made of Carbon Graphite and nyglass Stockinette with Acrylic resin. The l
iner is made of a foam called pelite with a leather soft distell end which conforms perfectly to his leg. Its bottom has been designed to look like a hoof.

The miracle is that Midnite can not only walk on all 4 hoofs, he can run. That’s right, he can run and he has even jumped!

Midnite, a 4 year old Miniature Horse can now live a happy healthy life and has his dignity back. He knows he has been saved and we are grateful to our friends at Prostheticare for donating his leg to us. The leg would have cost in excess of $15,000.

In light of all of the bad things happening in the world today, we believe that Midnite will serve as an inspiration to all of us who face challenges in our daily lives. We believe Midnite can help inspire and heal both Children & Adults who themselves have hardships.

God has brought us together for a reason.

Thank you for your interest in Midnite.
 
Bob Williams
Ranch Hand Rescue

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