BROOKSVILLE — Anyone who knows them will tell you that Carrie Young and Allan Wilson don't enjoy having to say no.
No matter how financially strapped the couple's nonprofit organization is or how physically fatigued they are, people know there is always room for one more creature to find comfort, kindness and loving care.
But things have changed drastically for the operators of Ohana Horse Rescue, located on a 35-acre spread on Lake Lindsey Road north of Brooksville. The property, which has been on the market for several years, is about to be sold to new owners who have other visions for its use. Young and Wilson, who have been renting the site, have been told that they have until June 13 to relocate. And, at this point, they have no place to take the horses.
For the first time since they opened the rescue in 2007, Young and Wilson have had to refuse new intakes. On a recent weekend, they had six calls looking for shelter space, including one from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
"It's heartbreaking, but we don't have another choice," Wilson said. "You can't properly care for rescue horses and bring them back to health if you don't have a situation that allows you to think long-term. We just don't have that right now."
Young, 56, has loved horses since she was a child. The niece of the late Florida Congressman C.W. Bill Young, she has come to appreciate the savvy and tenaciousness needed to be an animal welfare advocate. Two years ago, she showed up on local TV and in the newspaper leading a one-woman campaign at U.S. 19 and State Road 52 in Pasco County to raise money to help with medical treatment for a neglected and abused horse named Isabelle that had been brought to her by the county's animal services.
Weeks of intense therapy saved Isabelle and made Young the go-to person in Pasco, Hernando and other Central Florida counties when authorities discovered a horse in trouble.
"We don't give up," said Young, who, along with her husband, has spent many a sleepless night nursing ailing horses back to health.
At one point earlier this year, the couple had 32 horses under their care. Their monthly bill for hay and other food alone often topped $800, which made saving for a permanent home pretty much impossible.
While the ultimate goal is to find permanent homes for all of the horses brought to them, there are a few, such as Isabelle, which lost an eye to disease, that won't ever leave. Young said her wish is that Ohana will always be a destination for horses that have nowhere else to go.
Since being told of the impending sale, Young and Wilson have been scrambling to find a suitable home for Ohana. However, being a small 501(c)(3) nonprofit that survives on donations from the equine community and money made from regular yard sales, they are limited to what they can afford to rent or buy.
The ideal facility would be between 5 and 10 acres, fenced and include a small home where the couple can live.
"We're not looking to have a palace," Wilson said. "If it's something that needs fixing up, we can do that. We're willing to do everything."