25,000 Volunteer Hours Per Year Power This Horse Rescue
Cheryl Flanagan was a 4H and US Pony Club leader in the 1980’s when she first started taking horses from the Tampa Bay Downs Racetrack. “I had access to many young riders looking for horses.” Over time, she attracted notice and more people started calling to donate horses that they were unable to care for. “I worked with local law enforcement, with abandoned and neglected horses, and it just kept on growing. It has continued to grow into an amazing organization thanks to all of our supporters and volunteers who are dedicated to the efforts of saving horses and other animals in need.
Almost 30 years later, Cheryl and her team of volunteers take a variety of horses into their rescue, which is now named the Horse Rescue Relief And Retirement Fund, Inc or 'Save the Horses' for short. Rescued animals include off-track thoroughbreds, blind horses, horses from animal control, those that the owners can no longer care for, and horses at death’s door. “We are lucky to have great veterinarians in our area who really care about horses and work with us, advise us, and even recommend us to take horses from clients for various reasons.”
The retraining program at Save the Horses is totally based on trust with no time limit. “Some may learn in a month or two, some it may take longer. Each animal is an individual.” Cheryl admitted that their biggest need is a sanctuary to keep the non-adoptable horses so space can be freed up at the main rescue farm.
She describes their greatest successes as “Bringing a community of volunteers and supporters together.” Horses who leave Save the Horses Rescue are always welcome back if the adopters situation changes. “We want an adopter and the horse to live happily ever after, but we take back horses for any reason. The horses are in our care forever.”
At Save the Horses, Cheryl is extremely proud of the workers who come in to help with the care of the horses. “We have over 25,000 volunteer hours a year and many people have been volunteering for a decade or more! People see what we do and care deeply. Doing good comes back to you. We are proof!”