HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - This month has been a very busy one for a horse rescue group in Hawkins County, Tennessee.
Treadway Euine Animal Rescue Sanctuary, or "TEARS," is a non-profit group. It has rescued 21 horses and a few donkeys so far in April, 17 in the last week alone.
Melissa Hull's daughter Molly started the group, but never expected it would experience this type of need. "When the county started getting involved from people complaining about bad situations for animals, we started getting a lot of them," says Hull.
TEARS has only been up and running formally since October; now they have nearly 40 horses and that number will soon grow. Out of the horses rescued last week, about half are pregnant.
The cost to care for the rescued horses can be staggering. Veterinarian bills, medicines, feed; it all adds up. Hull says food alone costs the group $800 a week.
TEARS is still too new to qualify for many grants, so they're relying on donations, "We do what we have to do. If it means we sell something of ours to feed them or we give up something, we do what we have to do," adds a tearful Hull.
So why all of the efforts? Hull says she and other volunteers are acting as voices for the voiceless and she has a strong message for horse owners. "There's enough unwanted horses around that are not cared for. Don't go breeding horses if you don't intend on taking care of them," she said.
We've learned that in most of the cases of animal neglect or abuse involving horses, law enforcement will call TEARS or another rescue group like Mustang Alley in Greeneville.
The horses' owners can be cited for things like animal neglect or animal abuse.
To contact TEARS call (423) 272-6599 or (423) 258-6115.
To contact Mustang Alley call (423) 552-5988.
Both groups also have Facebook pages.