EATONTON, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Bright and early, the volunteers at Hope's Castaways Equine Rescue are up and ready to care for horses who had nowhere to go.
"There's so many people who can't take care of their horse for one reason or another, and we want them to know there's a place they can go," said the non-profit's founder, Teresa Hardie.
Hardie's farm used to be a dairy farm, but now, she uses her land to rehabilitate horses who have been horribly neglected.
"If you picture a horse where you can actually visualize every bone in their body, we have had some of those horses," said Hardie.
The rescue specifically focuses on finding and saving horses that were about to be sold to kill buyers for slaughter.
"They'll ship them out to Canado or Mexico for human consumption," Hardie said of the kill buyers who come to many auctions in Georgia. "The sad part is, a lot of these horses were family friends and pets for a life long time."
Hardie spends her own money to buy these horses, and with the help of her volunteers and donations, she nurses them back to health.
"When they get to us, a lot of them are sick, they are starved beyond hope," said Hardie."It's like you look at them, and you're like 'there's no way they're ever gonna survive'."
Hardie said she's spend tens of thousands of dollars rehabilitating more than a dozen horses since last June when she began. She is hoping the community will get more involved, so Hope's can continue to run.
Teresa and her volunteers are say this isn't just an escape for the horses, it's therapuetic for themselves.
"You come out and spend a little time with a horse, and everything gets so much better," said Hardie.
Theresa Wheeler is a volunteer with the rescue and said coming to take care of the horses has changed her life. "I feel happy again," said Wheeler. "That second breath comes into you, and you feel alive to come here to work,"
Together, these volunteers say as long as there are horses in need, they will keep their hearts and their stable door open.
"If we can save a few and get them back into the community, that is the greatest gift we can give them," said Wheeler.
"When you think about these animals and how badly they were abused or neglected, and you look at them now, you just thank God," said Hardie. "It's a blessing."
If you'd like to donate to Hope's Castaways Equine Rescue, click HERE.
If you'd like to visit the rescue, they are located at: 122 Wilson Rd. Eatonton, GA 31024. You can contact them by phone at: (706) 816-2885.