Equine Angels founder hopes to fund rescue operation with proceeds from horse-themed resale store

| Sunday, June 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

As Equine Angels horse rescue continues to grow, founder Pam Vivirito plans to open a resale store to help fund the nonprofit operation.

She hopes to open Equine Angels Resale on West Main Street in Saxonburg in the next two weeks.

“We get so much stuff donated to the rescue all the time, we've run out of room at the barn,” Vivirito said.

Most of it is horse-related, but the retail store will accept everything except clothing and kitchen items.

“I think it will be (successful) because it's going to be a mixture of everything,” she said. “We want gently used things. We want it to be nice stuff that people can reuse and feel like they're helping by donating used items.”

All of the proceeds will benefit Equine Angels Rescue, at the former Durango Equestrian Center in Jefferson Township.

Vivirito said it can take up to a year and cost thousands of dollars to treat and rehabilitate a neglected or malnourished horse, including veterinary care, blacksmithing and food.

She said the nonprofit has grown substantially since she founded it in 2010. Then, she had six stalls and still owned and operated her own hair salon.

Now, Vivirito has devoted herself full time to the rescue, hired four employees, including a volunteer coordinator, occasionally sets up temporary stalls in the indoor arena and added five grazing fields for a total of 15.

Equine Angels is boarding 47 horses that are being brought back to health or are awaiting adoption.

Late last month, Equine Angels took in 10 malnourished horses that state police seized from property in Clearfield, Butler County.

“The rescue is just nonstop,” Vivirito said. “But I'm going to continue to be their voice until I can't do it anymore. When I see them come back to health, there is no feeling like it. That's what gets me through.”

Since 2010, the organization has rescued more than 150 horses.

Equine Angels doesn't just care for horses seized by authorities; it works with people who request help caring for their horses or takes them in if an owner says they can no longer afford the expense.

The nonprofit also takes in thoroughbreds once the horses retire from racing between the ages of 3 and 5.

Amanda Fischetti of Salisbury, Pa., near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, and her husband, Jonathon, have adopted several thoroughbreds from Equine Angels.

Fischetti first adopted her own horse, Ali, in April 2011, then three others, which her husband trained for competition at the riding stable he runs with his twin brother.

“We work a lot with high-performance horses, and I was looking for an athlete in a horse,” said Fischetti, 24, who works as a math teacher but participated regularly in equestrian competitions in high school and at Seton Hill University, where she earned her degree.

“I loved the idea of giving one of these athletes a second chance,” she said. “We work closely with Pam on that level, identifying these talented horses, so that they can become what they have the potential to be.”

Much like an animal shelter for traditional pets, Equine Angels screens adoption applicants and charges fees to cover some of the expense incurred when treating and boarding a horse.

For thoroughbreds, the fees range from $1,000 to $2,000. For others, the fee is between $300 and $500.

“The goal is to always find them a great home,” Vivirito said. “We don't want them to be in a place that we don't think is adequate, because we don't want them to end up in the same situation.”

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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