Help at the Heart of Dixie
Logan Stubbs December 5, 2014
Created by Logan Stubbs. Source: North American Equine Ranching Information Council
By Logan Stubbs
BROOKLET, Ga - Heart of Dixie Equine Rescue is a privately owned facility that rescues abused and neglected horses.
The rescue began in 2008 on a 20-acre farm 45 miles west of Savannah, placing it in the heart of Dixie. Owner and founder, Julie Barnes, runs the facility soley of of personal funds, donations, and volunteer work.
“We have a great core group of volunteers from Georgia Southern,” said Barnes. “It started with a group called Future Vets of America that volunteered and has since progressed to where we are now community partners with GSU.”
Barnes stated that many concerned citizens and students, including several GSU fraternities, have volunteered their time to help groom, feed, clean, provide care for the horses, and maintain the facility.
According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnoloy Information, closure of U.S. equine slaughter houses in 2007 and the recession have contributed to a large increase in unwanted horses, totaling to about 100,000 horses per year. The study calculated that the average cost to care for a horse is $3,648 per year.
“Unfortunately, there’s not much money left at the end of the month after we feed everybody and pay the vet and the ferrier,” said Barnes. “These volunteers have been a huge, huge help.”
Chris Umbarger, a 13-year-old homeschooled student, lives on the farm with his grandmother, and has been volunteering his time to Heart of Dixie for over one year.
“I do anything that Julie needs me to do,” said Umbarger, who helps Barnes with everyday tasks such as feeding, grooming, cleaning, caring for and desensitizing abused horses. “I love being around the horses. It makes me happy to see the horses brought back to health.”
Samantha Bacon, a GSU student and a volunteer from Future Vets of America says that the Heart of Dixie’s biggest need is monetary funds.
“It takes a lot of money just to feed the horses at the rescue,” said Bacon, who is currently helping Barnes with the expensive process of turning the private organization into a non-profit organization. “After becoming a non-profit, we are going to push to re-home some of the horses. We have been working to get a lot of them used to being handled.”
Heart of Dixie volunteers and Julie Barnes hope to see more donations and volunteers when the organization gets not-for-profit status in a few months due to the tax deductions available for donators.