Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW - Shannon Kalahan believes there is a good home out there for every horse.
On the road to these good homes, more than 150 horses have crossed paths with Second Chance Ranch, a non-profit equine rescue where Kalahan and others work to save lives.
With a network of volunteers in six foster farms throughout Northern Connecticut, the group has been rehabilitating and finding homes for sick, injured, abused and starved horses for 10 years.
"There are days when you get angry to see what people have done," Kalahan said about her work with rescued horses. "But despite the fact that there are tough moments, they are almost all happy endings."
Just as their name suggests, the group gives a second chance at a long and happy life to horses like Granny and Jessie. Granny had suffered a stroke and severe starvation before her owners led her out to a field to die. Jessie is a nearly blind narcoleptic horse who is prone to passing out and falling down.
Though no one seemed to want them then, today is a very different story. Granny, a particularly sad case for Kalahan, is now "fat and happy" and living on the ranch. Kalahan also helped to find Jessie the particular kind of home she needed. She now has a pasture and a loving family to call her own.
Aside from helping with the tremendous amount of man hours needed to care for these special needs creatures, volunteers also do fund-raising and outreach work to spread awareness.
"It's not just helping the horses, you have to change the mindset of the community," Kalahan said.
Within their community of horse lovers, the ranch is a beacon of hope. They have taken in animals seized by police, some who are abandoned by owners who can no longer care for them as well as horses that are surrendered after becoming too sick or injured for a novice owner to nurse back to health.
For those looking to take in one of these animals themselves, the ranch offers an extensive adoption program in which they track the animals for life. Horses are matched with homes to suit their special needs and adopted out for a small fee ranging from free to $3,000.
"We are not in it for the money," Kalahan said about the fees which are on a sliding scale and different for each situation. "It is all negotiable. The most important thing is that it is the right home."
Although the ranch is run out of the East Longmeadow office of its founders, Karen and Paul Bacon, the five-member board of directors is constantly seeking volunteers for help in their wide-spread network of foster barns, as well as those who want to donate to the cause.
"You can never get too much help in the barn," Kalahan said. "This is a full time job for us on top of our full time jobs."
For more information call Shannon Kalahan at (860) 593-1241 or online at www.scrrescue.org.