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Vt. family struggles to care for homeless horses - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. family struggles to care for homeless horses

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NEWPORT CENTER, Vt. -

Don Kelley and his family love horses. They have kept horses on their Newport Center farm for years. And then they began taking in unwanted animals, working with a local humane organization.

Reporter Judy Simpson: So you are not a registered rescue?

Don Kelley: No, no, no.

Judy Simpson: So why do you do this?

Don Kelley: I do it because I love the animals and I just love the horses. And we do a lot with the horses. We have kids, people who come up in the summertime to ride. If people want to leave us a donation, that is fine. Other than that, they don't pay us.

Don figures he has about 22 horses on the farm. He gets help from his grandchildren and their friends, like Sammy Marrotte, to care for them and train them.

"I work with the horses and I clean the barn and do all the chores," Sammy said.

Don says he has taken in dozens of horses over the years. So many horses, in fact, that Don had to put up a gate at the end of his driveway to stop people from dropping animals off when they weren't home.

Judy Simpson: What happens to the horses once they are here? Do you find new homes for them?

Don Kelley: We try to do new homes with some of them, but it's so hard up here. I mean, you either if they can't afford to buy a horse, they can't afford to take care of it, can't afford to feed it so... we wind up like you see; we have got a full herd here and more than what I need.

And that is now the problem. Don says he has had to turn people away.

Don Kelley: So, yeah, lately and with the hay situation I have said I can't because I don't know if I am going to financially be able to get enough hay for the winter for them.

Judy Simpson: Well what's going to happen if you don't?

Don Kelley: Well, I will have to find a way, I guess. I'm not going to let them starve... We will have to find a way somehow.

But the bigger issue remains, what to do with all the horses?

"It may be our last year. We may not even, I may have to cut way back," Don said. "It's hard to say because these guys are like my family now. I mean, they are... I love them all."

In the meantime, it's back to work for Don and his family, caring for their hairy herd.

The rescue group that Don Kelley works with is P.E.T.S. of the Kingdom. For more information -- kingdompets@yahoo.com -- http://petsofthekingdom.weebly.com/

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