HUDSON — Carrie Young is overwhelmed by the kindness of people who donated money for Isabelle, an emaciated, abused horse Young rescued in January.
The 11-year-old horse was 400 pounds underweight. Her coat was rotten with fungus and she was covered with sores. Her ears had been torn by dogs. Her hooves were infected. And she had a large cancerous tumor growing on her face, inching toward her eye socket — something that easily could have been taken care of in the early stages. Isabelle's previous owners are being investigated for possible abuse charges by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Young, 52, who runs a horse rescue in Hudson, needed $2,200 to pay for Isabelle's surgery. The Times published an article about Young's fight for Isabelle.
Readers responded with force.
Surgi-Care Center for Horses in Brandon received about $5,000 in donations for Isabelle's surgery.
And Young said people sent another $5,000 to her horse rescue. Many of the donations were small — a $5 check, envelopes sent with a dollar bill inside. A senior citizen's mobile home park gave her $70. An Elks Club sent $140 after rallying for donations at bingo night.
Isabelle's surgery was March 17. She survived and doctors were able to save her eye.
Young wants to pass a message to all the people who cared about this sickly, neglected horse:
"Thank you," she said. "All of these kind-hearted people gave her a second chance. I couldn't have done it without them."
Isabelle had small beads of chemotherapy embedded around her eye. She will have at least two more surgeries in the next few months to inject more chemotherapy. Young puts medicine on Isabelle's eye four times a day. The stitches from her first surgery come out Monday.
Nearly all of her rotted coat has fallen off and been replaced with healthy hair. She no longer smells of infection. Her legs are healing and getting stronger. Young rubs balm on them every day and gives her food with added calories and minerals and gives her flax seed for her coat.
Isabelle has gained 350 pounds since January, when she was nearly too weak to walk on her own into the trailer to take her to Young's ranch. Young had to get her used to eating again, giving her a handful of food every few hours. One time, Isabelle fell and almost couldn't get back up.
"She could have given up I don't know how many times," Young said. "But she didn't."
Now, all Isabelle wants to do is run and play with the other horses.
"She is doing wonderfully," Young said. "This horse is absolutely stunning."
Five more rescued horses have come to the ranch in the past month. Young opened 'Ohana Ranch and Rescue three years ago. It's her full-time job and she's used to doing whatever she can to take care of these animals in need — selling her televisions, cars, having yard sales. For Isabelle, she stood on street corners and asked for money — the first time she's asked for donations. She sold one of her personal horses.
Young said she told people when they contacted her that enough money had been raised for Isabelle's first surgery — but they said they still wanted to give money for Isabelle's after-care and for the other horses. She said many people came out to the ranch to see Isabelle — whom Young calls Miss Is — and the ranch. Because of the money raised, Young feels peace. For now, Isabelle is taken care of — as well as the other horses who need help. Young is spending a lot of time writing thank you cards to people who donated, with updated photos of Isabelle.
She's so grateful.
"It's absolutely phenomenal," Young said.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6229.