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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Thanks in large part to WFMY News 2 viewers' donations, Safe Haven Equine Rescue and Retirement (SHERR) in High Point has been able to build a new barn and thereby save more animals from continued neglect and abuse.

In July, WFMY News 2 shared SHERR's plea--a request for dire donations, needed to build more stalls ahead of an expected harsh winter and continuously tough economy.

SHERR executive director Gin Wiltsey said, "It's been such a blessing, first of all, how the community did come together. We were operating with five or six stalls here, and we needed room. We're not going to overdo ourselves, but we needed more room to help these horses. We needed something warm, we needed something dry, so we put out pleas and asked for help."

Rapidly, the community began to donate, and SHERR raised $6,000 to put toward building stalls that could accommodate eight more horses than previously. Wiltsey referenced one of the facility's new tenants--Rookie, a 25-year-old malnourished horse who weighs only half of what a horse his size should weigh.

"What happened was the vet was called out to euthanize him, and he came trotting up to them and had a lot of life in his eyes. And the vet couldn't euthanize him... so they called us, and we said well thank God we have our barn. Thanks to the community and roofing (donor), we were able to take him in. He has quite a road to recovery."

But, Wiltsey indicated even the new stalls are not enough to curb a much greater problem--continued horse neglect, due to tough economic times and inadequate ownership education.

"It hasn't slowed down," Wiltsey said. "There's not just cases of neglect and abuse but people who become terminally ill and want to be able to rest in peace, for lack of better word, knowing their horse is cared for. It hasn't stopped. I get calls still continuously, but we've been able to [save] five (horses) since you've last been here."

Wiltsey said the potential solution to the problem is "education." She explained, "Education is one of the keys--understanding people get a horse because they're free...or they find them in various ways cheaply. That's the cheapest part. They don't understand the needs of their horse. They're no different from the needs of your dogs or cats."

To donate to, volunteer at or attend events for SHERR, visit the web page or e-mail info@sherrnc.com

TUNE IN TO THE WFMY NEWS 2 GOOD MORNING SHOW FRIDAY TO WATCH THE STORY.

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