Horse Rescuer: 'A lot of people treat them like livestock or bicycles'

EAGLE, Idaho (KBOI) - The holiday season is an especially hard time for charities, when demand often outstrips supply. It's true not just for organizations like Goodwill but also for the folks at the Idaho Horse Rescue.

That's why they're so grateful for eager volunteers like Robert Bruno.

Bruno is known throughout the Treasure Valley as the go-to guy for treating abused and neglected horses. Case in point: a horse named Billie who spent her days standing in ankle-deep manure. As a result, Billie had infected legs when a vet called Bruno to help with her rehabilitation.

It took him eight months to nurse the horse back to health, and it was touch-and-go for awhile because Billie was on the brink of death when Bruno first started working with her.

Right now, Billie sports a set of special boots. They help relieve pressure in her legs.

"I think she is going to make it," Bruno said with a smile of satisfaction. "She is doing really well. I call her my miracle horse."

Looking back on her initial shocking condition, Bruno gets angry about the horse abuse problem in southern Idaho.

"Their existence depends on humans and, unfortunately, a lot of people treat them like livestock or bicycles."

But caring for horses like Billie isn't cheap. And given the volume of calls about neglected horses they get, Idaho Horse Rescue depends on caring people like Bob Bruno to fill in the gap. He paid for Billie's treatment out of his own pocket.

And that's why Idaho Horse Rescue is holding a holiday donation drive. All the money raised will defray the huge cost of hay and veterinary services.

"I don't want to sound like I'm begging, but anything that anyone can send is great," says Bruno.

He sounds wistful when he says that. Maybe because the hopes and wishes of December often are lost on the winds of January. Bruno knows that all too well. Because he wonders about the other Billie's he hasn't heard about yet; the ones he knows will survive if he can provide his gentle touch and loving whisper.