Rescued horses and veterans heal together

Rescued horses recovering with veterans

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Multiple free-roaming horses were shot and killed in Eastern Kentucky last month. As police search for answers in the violent crime, the Kentucky Humane Society’s Equine Department is stepping in to help. The Humane Society rescued the remaining horses in the herd and placed them in foster care, but those recovering horses are also helping to heal.

“They witnessed a shooting in very close proximity to where they were at,” said Bryce Gill, Equine Manager at the Kentucky Humane Society.

In early September, a man found three free-roaming stallions shot to death in Johnson County. That's when Gill and his team took action.

“It was a very dangerous site that we saw, so we knew they were at risk and the County Judge executive asked that they be removed immediately,” said Gill.

Gill said it wasn't easy but his team and local authorities rounded up the seven horses left in the herd, and they're now under the Humane Society's care, recovering so they can eventually be adopted.

“They've made great progress in just a week,” said Gill.

Three of the horses are staying at the Active Heroes site in Shepherdsville, part of a pilot program where the Humane Society and Active Heroes are teaming up to heal the animals and veterans.

“Traumatized people and animals can relate to each other,” said Mareike Yocum, Vice President of Programs with Active Heroes.

Yocum and her husband founded Active Heroes and purchased 147 acres of land in 2013 where veterans and their families can come and recover from their visible and invisible wounds.

“They can come stay at the cabins, they can come down here and watch the animals or can go hiking,” said Yocum.

With the new partnership between Active Heroes and the Humane Society's Equine program, the veterans can build strength and relationships with the horses who are healing too.

“You can have a conversation with an animal without using words it's a quiet conversation, just body language and it can be very calming,” said Yocum.

The horses have a long way to go.

“There's zero trust, and they want to make zero contact,” said Gill.

As they build up that trust with humans, the goal is to adopt them out, the start of what will hopefully become a revolving door for at-risk horses who need the Active Heroes just as much as those veterans need them.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Department is investigating the shooting and killing of the three stallions. Anyone with information in the case should call (606) 789-3411.

For more information on Active Heroes visit activeheroes.org/.


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