Kids read to ailing horse to help with healing

Jun 2, 2019

Wonder the horse isn’t allowed any treats.

Sugars and carbs could spike his insulin and cause his organs to shut down and he could die,” explained Deb Devlin, co-owner of the Don’t Forget Us, Pet Us animal sanctuary.

“When they get so emaciated like that, their body doesn’t work as well,” she said.

Wonder was brought to the North Dartmouth sanctuary in a skeletal condition from a kill lot in Louisiana, one of 18 horses seized in a case of alleged neglect.

Devlin’s son Cole started a GoFundMe fundraising campaign at the end of March to help save the horses.

Of the 18, four died shortly after leaving the lot, and the rest were all chosen by good samaritans willing to provide them a home.

According to Devlin, this one was the “last man standing” — the one that nobody wanted.

And when he arrived at night on May 20, she was shocked at the condition he was in.

“His body score is a one,” she said. “Only 50 percent of horses with that body score survive.”

But Wonder is living up to his name, as he’s now made it past the critical ten-day mark and is starting to put on a little weight under a carefully measured re-feeding regime.

Devlin wants to get the horse — who is still nervous around people in his pen — used to people by exposing him to calm voices and a variety of new faces.

So she’s enlisted the help of local kids, asking them to come out and read to Wonder to help him feel more at home.

Eight-year-old Nora King was browsing the selection of mostly animal-themed children’s books chosen by Cole Devlin for the occasion.

Nora’s mother Meghan, a board member for the non-profit, runs the second location for the shelter up in Duxbury, where Devlin and co-owner Jill Tagino can move animals if necessary.

Meanwhile Savannah and Olivia Tansey, eight and six, brought their favorite books from home: a Pete the Cat book about white shoes, and a book called “The book with no pictures.”

Their mother Lauren said that they found out about the horse online and just had to help.

“Did Pete cry? Goodness, no! He kept walking along and singing his song,” read Olivia as Wonder munched hungrily on his pile of hay.

Wonder is suffering from worms, some minor scrapes and scars, and an elevated white blood cell count as well as malnutrition.

According to Devlin, he wouldn’t let the vet near his teeth to check his age, but she believes he’s around 4 - 8 years old — still quite young for a horse, as they can live into their 30s.

With a whole community rooting for him — including a trainer in Tiverton who has volunteered to train the horse — Wonder will hopefully be on a short road to recovery.

Devlin said, “My favorite quote ever is, ‘Loving someone is learning the song that is inside their heart and singing it to them when they can’t remember it.’ I believe a lot of our animals have had love in their life once before — and they just need to be reminded.”