In less than a week, horses at the S.O.F.E. Horse rescue have gone from hungry to happy. They're eating hay and finding new homes.
The owner of the horse rescue turned 42 horses over to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office when he became overwhelmed. They were malnourished and neglected.
Lin Beaune with Epona Horse Rescue is coordinating the removal of the horses.
Since 10/11 first aired a story calling for donations, help has been pouring in.
"People are just really reaching out to these horses. It just makes me feel... it's my Christmas. My granddaughter told me this morning, grandma we don't have to have Christmas, let's help the horses," Beaune said.
Beaune is thankful for all the donations, especially the hay. The 50 small bales of hay donated Saturday will only last a few days. Beaune also received large round bales, but the horse will eat their way through that in no time. What these horses need are permanent homes.
That's exactly what Heidi Krueger and her fiancé are providing. She came to pick out one horse, but went home with two.
"Just to see them come to a new home. They are going to get bigger. They are going to get strong. They are going to be ones that we ride and take on trails. They are going to have a great home, a great future," Krueger said.
Krueger will start by fostering the horses, with plans to adopt them. She is fulfilling two dreams at once.
"Dreams can come true. I am finally getting the horse I never had along with bringing these horses to their home. That's the key," Krueger said.
About half the horses have found a home, which means 20 have not. That number could change. Beaune learned shocking news that could mean more homeless horses.
"The large BLM burro was intact and he was in with mares and the minis. So they could have impregnated anybody. We've got mares out here with huge bellies that we are going to have to get in and get ultrasound," Beaune said.
Beaune knows at least one horse is pregnant. She doesn't if or how many more horse are pregnant.
It's more work and more expenses. For Beaune, it's worth it, especially when she see horses matched with a loving family.
The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is asking for hay and money donations to feed 41 neglected horses and pay for vet check-ups.
The owner of S.O.F.E horse rescue could be facing charges after 42 animals were found malnourished and neglected.
The horses are in the process for being removed from the S.O.F.E. Horse Rescue near Plymouth, Nebraska. Some of the horses came there to find a better life, instead, they went hungry.
The 42 horses, miniature horses and donkeys were dropped on the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office. They are malnourished and neglected. It's the largest rescue operation the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has ever taken on.
"The [owners] are overwhelmed with the amount of stock that they have, just to the point where they can't take care of it any more," Jefferson County Sheriff Nels Sorensen said.
Beaune has seen it before and is sure she'll see it again. Skin and bones.
"I'm aghast. This is horrific. This is not what rescue is about. These animals are starving. What were these animals rescued for," Lin said
After a Veterinarian examined the horses, Lin assessed them to determine which needed to be removed immediately. Others will have to stay until a place can be arranged.
In the mean time, Beaune is bringing in food for the horses.
Of the more than 40 horses, four are in really bad shape, but Beaune says they shouldn't have to be put down. The hard part is just finding homes for them.
For Carmen Olson, it's hard to let go of her beloved equine. She agrees the horses need help, but she wants to choose where they go.
"I will owner relinquish mine, but I want to do it to Gina, to Hooves and Paws. We've been working on it for two months and then everything blew up," Carmen said.
Olson's ex-boyfriend, who owned S.O.F.E. Horse Rescue, relinquished ownership of the horse. Olson says he didn't have the right.
"He doesn't own any of them. So I don't know how he can owner relinquish any of them. To me it's theft," Carmen said.
She claims ownership to several horses but the Sheriff has yet to see her proof of purchase.
It's a legal battle that could take months. The immediate focus is the horses and finding them homes where they will be well cared for.
To donate, just contact Epona Horse Rescue or the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.