DECATUR, Texas — If you ever question what a mother will do for her child, think of Bella and Butterscotch.
"It's just that mother-daughter bond... it's an instinct," Whitney Hanson of the Humane Society of North Texas said. "She was ready to die for her baby."
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Earlier this month, the ponies were pulled from a barn that caught fire in Alvarado. Hanson said the chickens and sheep in the barn died, but when firefighters found the ponies, Bella was blocking her then two-week-old foal from the flames.
"She actually kind of backed the baby into the corner and stood over her and shielded her from the fire and the debris that was falling," Hanson said.
Thanks to those efforts, Butterscotch escaped with minor burns... but Hanson said they didn't expect mom to make it. More than half her body was burned, and she had injuries from debris falling on her.
Her once beautiful, long coat was singed.
"The only reason she survived and pulled through this is because she loves that baby so much, and she wants to be here for the baby," Hanson said.
But before Bella and Butterscotch can join the rest of the horses and the ponies in the rehabilitation pasture, their road to recovery is going to be long... and expensive.
Twice a day, every day, Butterscotch and Bella are given disinfectant treatments at a stable in Decatur, where they're being housed. They're also on medication and their stalls must be cleaned daily to prevent infection.
Bella's whinnies indicate just how painful it is.
Hanson said the ponies had been well cared for by the family who owned them, but they had to surrender them because they knew the burn care would be too costly.
Now, the Humane Society of North Texas is asking for the public's help to raise the $4,000 they think will be needed for the recovery effort.
In about four months, the ponies should be healthy enough to be put up for adoption.