Area residents show their support of animal lives through work with Horse and Hound Rescue Foundation in Guthrie. The organization aims to give elderly and disabled dogs as well as retired and injured horses a second chance at life. Founders of the organization, Larry and Nelda Kettles, work with pounds and horse tracks to ensure the animals have the best quality of life.
"We started this because, unfortunately, after a horse is finished running, a lot of them end up in the kill pin because owners want the money going out to stop and the trainer can't keep a horse that is not running. ... In order to keep a horse from getting a bad situation, and they've got a ton of life and talent left in them, we adopt a lot of horses," Nelda said about the horse side of the program.
Many of the horses and dogs brought to Guthrie based facility come from Oklahoma tracks, such as Remington and Will Rogers, and area pounds. As most of the horses were former race horses, the Kettles and their team of volunteers give the animals an adjustment period to forget the track and heal from any injuries.
The horses are put in a wide open pasture to allow the animal space to relax and behave normally. As the horses calm down and no longer act as a race animal, volunteers with the program begin to ride the horses and train them for a variety of activities.
"We have great group of volunteers who rides them and figures out what they want to do, then we adopt them out. ... we adopt a lot of horses that are now event riding horses or trail riding horses, barrel horses and disability therapy horses," Nelda said.
Since the foundation first began in February 2016, the organization has already rehomed approximately 15 horses, seven of which were adopted since the beginning of 2017. One of the horses was adopted by Mary Logan for her son Ryan, 29, who has Downs Syndrome and Autism.
"Ryan has done therapeutic horseback riding and it does a lot of good for him. I told Nelda we needed a calm horse for Ryan and she said they had just the one," Logan said.
When Logan and her son visited the Horse and Hound Rescue ranch, they were met by the Kettles, barn manager and board of directors member Jimmy Walker and a horse named Cuvina. A few rides after the initial meeting, the family chose to adopt the horse.
"Cuvina is great, very gentle. I think they (Horse and Hound) are wonderful. They made sure I had the horse that was best for Ryan," Logan said.
She said her son feeds and works with the horse every day. According to Logan, after seeing how well-behaved the horse was and the comfortability of her son, she chose to adopt a horse for herself as well. She believes the organization does a good job of rehabilitating the horses and paring people with the perfect one.
On the dog side of the operation, Nelda said when people go to a pound to adopt a dog, some of the animals get swept to the side.
"As you know, when people go to a pound they don't want the old dogs or disabled dogs, so they are euthanized. So we are giving them a second chance," Nelda said.
The dogs are trained and kept healthy while staying at the Horse and Hound facility. According to Nelda, the dogs with disabilities are provided with necessary equipment to make their lives enjoyable and all dogs are made comfortable during their stay.
The Horse and Hound Foundation has adopted out approximately twenty dogs since 2016, according to Nelda and Larry. One of the dogs was adopted by a Wounded Veterans of Oklahoma (WVO) volunteer who introduced the animal to a U.S. military veteran with anxiety.
"I work with veterans. I find dogs and I place them with the veterans who need them. I was out at Horse and Hound and noticed this brown lab mix who looked perfect," Sharon Dilley, WVO volunteer, said.
The dog was adopted by Dilley that Tuesday and taken to her first round of training the same night. All dogs intended to be paired with a veteran must go through extensive training to aid the veterans, according to Dilley. The veterans receiving the dogs also go to the training to work with the animals from the beginning.
"Many of these veterans have anxiety and these dogs are helping them so much. At the first night of training the dog, Josie, met with Alisha Dech and they instantly started to bond," Dilley said.
She went on to explain that the organization does an excellent job of pairing people with their dogs and ensures the animals have the best possible care.
"What I loved was, she told me if Josie doesn't work in any way, to bring her back. They wanted to make sure the dog was taken care of too," Dilley said.
Larry said it is important to recognize that the organization does not pull animals from the kill pin, rather they prevent the animals from every being in that situation.
Walker agreed, saying the facility is a proud no killing operation.
"We are saving lives. We are a 100 percent no killing facility. Not 99.9, but a 100 percent no kill," Walker said, referring to both the horses and dogs.
Additionally, Nelda said the organization is predominately funded by her and her husband. However, the organization is now qualifying for grants and recently received the Lil Bub's Big Fund from ASPCA.
"With the help of this grant, we can continue to serve Guthrie and surrounding areas with the ongoing problem of senior and unwanted dogs,"
The grant has helped the organization purchase orthopedic beds, interactive toys for the impaired dogs and halo collars for blind dogs to overcome challenges.
Larry, Nelda and Walker said the organization is always looking for more volunteers and invites anyone wishing to donate their time, money or items to contact them at 834-1005 or visit the organization website at horseandhoundrescue.com.