+ Rehabilitation + Sanctuary:
By Amy Greene
Three decades ago, give or take a few years, Oklahoma’s race
tracks were at the peak of popularity. The horses were fierce, lively and
beautiful. They shook the ground with the sheer power of their hooves; they
kicked up the walls of dust the state fought to settle in the ‘40s.
Unfortunately, for all of their magnificence, Oklahoma’s racing horses were
also viewed as replaceable commodities.
Kettles, the founder and owner of Horse and Hound Rescue, remembers that time
well. “When we first got started,
Oklahoma had a serious problem,” Nelda says. “Injured race horses were just
being sent to slaughter by owners and trainers who didn’t want to spend the
time and money to fix them. We (at Horse and Hound Rescue) got in touch with
those owners and trainers, as well as the tracks themselves, and worked to show
them that there was another option.”
While the rescue
itself was only first officially established in 2015, the owners of Horse and
Hound Rescue have now been in the Thoroughbred industry for more than 30 years,
specializing in Off the Track Thoroughbreds: Jockey-Club registered
Thoroughbred horses that were previously racing or in training to race and have
since been retired due to reasons such as injury, lack of talent or old age.
experienced riders as volunteers and decades of experience, Horse and Hound
Rescue retrains horses from top racing competitors headed for the
slaughterhouse to family members with a purpose in new careers including
jumping, eventing, trail work and Western discipline. In 2018 alone, Horse and
Hound took in approximately 50 horses, 46 of which have already found their
forever homes. However, as their name suggests, Horse and Hound Rescue doesn’t
stop with equines.
When the Kettles
began rescuing Off the Track Thoroughbreds dumped for being too much work or
financial trouble, they also found a staggering number of special needs dogs
being euthanized or dumped by their owners for the same reason. Similar to the
horses, these dogs continue to come to the rescue from all over Oklahoma.
However, while the horses are stopped from being sent to slaughter, the dogs
are usually saved from being homeless, abandoned, surrendered or victims of
tornados. Most of the dogs Horse and Hound takes in are blind, deaf, diabetic, or
a combination of the three, requiring adopters to invest in the animals not
only financially but with their time and energy.
five months ago, in the heat of the Oklahoma summer, one such dog was found by
a woman and her grandkids. The family had decided to go for a walk together
when they heard the sound of crying coming from a nearby dumpster. Peeking
inside, they found a small black and white puppy baking in the 100-degree
weather. The woman called animal control, but because it was a Sunday all the
shelters were closed. Eventually, Horse and Hound Rescue was notified, and rescuers
crawled into the burning hot dumpster to save the dog thrown out like trash.
The 1-year-old mixed breed was terrified but finally safe. She was named Miss
Kitty in honor of one of the rescue member’s affection for the CBS Western
television show, “Gunsmoke.” With time, Miss Kitty recovered from her physical
and emotional wounds and is now part of a forever family.
due to the bigger investment and level of experience these special needs dogs
require, not all of the animals that make it to Horse and Hound Rescue are able
to have success stories as wonderful as Miss Kitty’s. In fact, the reality is that
only about half of these dogs are able to be retrained and rehomed because of the
severity of their conditions. Instead of giving up on these animals, however, Horse
and Hound Rescue Foundation has created a sanctuary nestled into 50 gorgeous
acres onsite in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
It is here
the dogs, horses—and even the occasional cat—live out their days in the safety
of Nelda and Larry Kettle’s home, receiving the attention and love they need
and deserve. But while Horse and Hound Rescue goes to great lengths to help
animals in need, they cannot do it alone.
make it on their own,” says Nelda. “I get tons of help from other rescues and
trainers. People care, and it’s a blessing.”
To fund their belief that “every horse and every hound deserves to
be loved unconditionally… just like they love us,” the 501(c)3 nonprofit
organization depends on a combination of grants and donations to continue
making a difference. If you would like to donate, you can visit the website at www.horseandhoundrescue.com, click the convenient
Paypal link, and 100 percent of your donation will go directly to Horse and
Hound Rescue as they help these special animals find their place in someone’s
heart and home.
While on their website, hover your mouse over the “How to Adopt”
tab at the top of the page. Here, you can check out the foundation’s list of
adoptable animals, be it “horse” or “hound.” Simply fill out the adoption
application also found on the website, or call (405) 206-4689 for more
information and to set up a meet and greet with available animals.
Maybe a lifetime commitment isn’t an option for you right now, but
a short-term commitment is. Horse and Hound Rescue is in need of foster
families! Consider temporarily giving an animal a home until the right forever
home is found. Fostering animals teaches them they are loved, helps their
socialization adjustment, and gets them into a comfortable environment where
they can thrive and their personalities will shine, all the while helping save
a life! Just click the “Get Involved” tab on the website or contact Nelda for
more information on fostering.
If you would like to help out but donation, adoption and fostering
aren’t for you, consider giving your time. From the mouth of the horse hero
herself, Nelda stresses the constant need for more helping hands. “I don’t want
to preach,” she said, “but volunteers are always needed, even just to come out
and love on the animals.” Brushing horses, walking dogs, playing ball, giving kisses,
receiving tail wags, and being on 50 acres of a serene animal sanctuary may be
as beneficial for you as the animals you’re helping. Visit the website or call
to set up volunteer opportunities.
At the very least, anyone can help spread the word. Go to horseandhouserescue.com,
look at the “Happy Tails” success stories and feel inspired! Tell your friends
about the amazing things the rescue does and how they make a difference.
Lastly, visit the Facebook page @horseandhoundrescue to like and share with