Budget woes could force closure of horse rescue organization

MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. -- Workers at a local animal rescue group are doing everything they can to keep the facility up and running, and some fear closure might mean more horses will be slaughtered.

Serenity Equine Rescue is at maximum capacity and cannot accept any more horses. And because hay is so expensive, workers don't know what the future holds for the horses that so desperately need help.

"It's crunch time," said volunteer Brenda Lane. "We are literally funding this place day to day."

The price of hay has taken a huge bite out of the organization's budget, and it's the one thing they can't do without.

"Hay prices have never been higher," Lane said.

The organization known for rescuing horses is now the one in need.

"When you hear about those huge seizures or a hoarding situation or a neglect situation with 30 horses, there's no where for King County to take those horses. They go to rescues, they go to us," Lane said.

But Serenity is out of room and their budget is running low. Most of their hay comes from eastern Washington, which was hit hard by fires last summer.

"Thousands and thousands and thousands of acres (burned), so everyone is suffering," Lane said.

Lane said Serenity can no longer afford the $150 a day it costs to feed the horses.

"All the volunteers that come here are reaching into their own pockets, and none of us are wealthy people," she said.

Volunteers say too much of their time is spent figuring out where the money for the horses' next meal is going to come from. The organization applies to grants when they're available, but it's never a sure thing.

Now Lane says there is a real possibility that the organization will be forced to close down.

"We worry about the horses," she said. "They are number one. They are why we're here."