South Buffalo rescue horses need temporary place to stay
After a brief respite in South Buffalo, Bev Dee is searching for a forever home and a temporary hostel for Bright Futures Farm.
Dee, 50, will be relocating her horse rescue to a new farm in Mercer County in mid-August. However, she needs to move the 13 horses plus a donkey to short-term quarters by the end of this month.
Bright Futures equine charity provides a home for horses deemed too old, disabled or neglected by their previous owners. Dee said many of her rescues are thoroughbreds from the racing circuit and likely would have ended up at slaughterhouses without intervention.
Dee wanted to be closer to her aging parents, so she moved to South Buffalo in 2011 after operating Bright Futures for a decade in Crawford County. She leased the Ridgeview Road farm from friends and, in the past year, had been trying to raise money to buy the property.
However, Dee said the owners' circumstances have changed and they need the farm themselves.
“I thought we would be here longer, but they need the property for another reason and we need to move,” Dee said.
With the June 1 deadline looming, Dee opted to lease a 105-acre farm with fenced pastureland near Greenville when she couldn't immediately find a suitable property to buy in Armstrong County or the surrounding area.
But she can't move into the new barn until Aug. 15 — and she needs to move out of the current barn by the end of May.
Dee has found temporary housing for all but five of her equines. Dee and her cattery of 14 cats that she rescued from an abandoned house near Templeton can stay at the South Buffalo property until August.
Since boarding horses is costly, Dee ideally would like to find someone to lend her barn space for 10 weeks so she can keep the remaining horses together. She'll cover the cost of food and hay, but is hoping someone will donate the space or offer a steep discount on rent because she's saving up for the move to Mercer.
If finding one space for all five horses is not possible, she needs to find foster homes that can take a horse or two. But she worries how the horses will handle being split up and how they'll fare if she's not on hand to monitor their health.
“It would be huge if they could stay together,” Dee said. “The older ones, I know immediately if they're not well because I know them so well.”
Three fairly old horses are residents of Bright Futures, including Fast Market, or “Markie,” the last-known racing son of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Markie is 27 years old; two other horses are 30.
Brite Decision, the farm's namesake, is 22. A thoroughbred gelding, Brite suffered severe leg problems and was facing euthanasia when Dee rescued him and set the groundwork for her horse charity in the process.
Dee's operation runs entirely on donations, a few small grants and assistance from about eight regular volunteers.
She said providing one horse with food, hay and basic medical care costs on average $250 a month. But vet bills can skyrocket for some of her older horses and those with ongoing medical problems; she estimated it costs $55,000 per year to run the farm.
A few of Dee's horses are available for adoption; two will be going to foster homes that may become permanent. Dee works with potential owners to make sure they're able to care for the medical needs of the horses.
In addition to the stress of moving, Dee said it has been a tough year due to the loss of five of her longtime, elderly residents.
She wiped away tears as she recalled the standardbred mare named Accountability, or “Tiny,” who was 36; a nearly 30-year-old leopard Appaloosa gelding named Frack who lived at Bright Futures with his sibling, Frick; and Ziezo, a Gelderlander gelding in his 30s who had toured Europe pulling carriages as part of a four-horse hitch that included his brother, Zorro, who died at Bright Futures in 2010.
“Too many too soon,” Dee said.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.