What does local law enforcement do with farm animals, those seized from abusive situations or running at large? Used to be, they’d take the small animals to Young-Williams Animal Center, a stressful situation for farm animals to be in. As prey animals, they’re naturally frightened of barking dogs, predators.
So, a group of former Horse Haven volunteers saw a need and filled it. They founded Hooves and Feathers, a non-profit shelter and rescue for farm animals large and small. They’re not a sanctuary, and they don’t take owner surrenders. They specifically work with law enforcement to shelter, rehabilitate and adopt found animals or those seized from abuse or neglect situations.
On April 1, they opened the shelter on Cunningham Road, the farm previously owned by the late David Cunningham. There, they have 17 acres and 35 barn stalls, along with outdoor areas for small animals. Permanent residents like a herd of goats, a pig and a duck, plus boarding horses, share the farm with the rescues large and small. Right now, those include a llama found running at large in Corryton, two at-large goats, and a couple of chickens.
They’re about to welcome their first equine neglect case: five neglected, underfed horses.
“We want to be there for law enforcement,” said board member Jenny Lindsey. “Law enforcement has to be able to seize the animals if they’re going to cite anyone.”
Hooves and Feathers can gather evidence on the animals, and executive director Stephanie Solomon holds multiple certifications and can serve as a witness in court.
“I have loved horses ever since I can remember,” said Lindsey. “There is something about a horse that connects with you, the way they can almost talk with you that’s special. Finding out that there are people out there who are not caring for their animals is just heartbreaking to me. It can be hard at times, but it can also be very rewarding.”
That’s because Hooves and Feathers also rehabilitates the animals it houses and strives to find them good, forever homes.
“I really like working with the animals because I really like making sure that those animals see better days,” said volunteer Grace Solomon.
The organization’s seven board members and five more volunteers have been hard at work mending fences and making sure the barn is a great home for the animals they care for. But, there’s still work to be done and needs to fill. Donations, both monetary and items from the Hooves and Feathers wish list, are needed, too. There are also projects available for community groups who would like to pitch in.
And on Saturday, June 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Hooves and Feathers will open its doors to the community with an Open Farm Day. Visitors can expect food trucks, tours, activities for all ages, pony rides, a petting zoo and more.
“That was one of the exciting things when Stephanie found this place,” said Lindsey. “The Halls community is so close-knit and welcoming, it would be a great place for us to be.”