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Horse rescue hits financial hurdle

Emergency funds needed after stock market wipes out nest egg
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Just when the demand for help is strongest, a rural Placer County horse rescuer is feeling the hurt from a plummeting stock market and economic slowdown. Cheryl Rankin, whose Shiloh Foundation facility is located on Wise Road, five miles northwest of Auburn, said that she thought she had the rescue operation’s finances well planned out. Funding – which she said amounts to $50,000 a year for hay and other necessities – was coming out of a personal retirement nest egg. The funding source reached $600,000 but when the stock market fell hard in recent months, Rankin said she lost all of that nest egg. With it went her ability to privately finance the rescue operation, she said. Rankin and Shiloh Foundation volunteers are now scrambling to put a non-profit license together that will pass state and Internal Revenue Service guidelines. She’s also asking for public assistance to keep the horses now at her facility fed. “I have to put my hand out or place the horses and lighten my load,” Rankin said. The 10-acre Shiloh facility is now for sale for $1.8 million, with Rankin saying her goal is to move to a new property that will have more land and allow her to grow her own hay. Rankin said she should have the non-profit papers approved within six weeks but in the meantime is looking for financial assistance to buy hay. Donors can even pay for feed directly by contacting Echo Valley in Auburn. Fliers will start appearing shortly at feed stores asking for help, including requests to take in horses. And for the first time in their 35-year marriage, Rankin and her husband plan a yard sale to come up with money they expected would be coming in regularly after selling Roseville’s Rankin & Rankin construction company. “Even those who planned out well are in desperate situations,” Rankin said. Rankin started helping rescue abandoned and unwanted horses five years ago, taking in a few horses and then more. The Wise Road property includes a barn built to house 30 horses. With the financial downturn, some horse owners have had to make hard choices. On occasion, that has meant abandoning the animals – some that have ended up at Shiloh. Hershey was one example. The seven-moth-old colt was rescued from a ravine by a rancher looking for his cows. Almost dead, it has been cared for since then to help it gain weight and grow. “It’s a horrible time for horses,” Rankin said. “People are throwing them away. But rescue operations are having a hard time taking them in. I’m hoping the community will come in and help during troubling times.” Rankin said she’s hopeful the rescue effort will be able to survive and can move to a new location when the ranch is sold. Mike Winters, Placer County animal services manager, said that the North Auburn shelter is running at full capacity. It’s also finding that while abandonment levels haven’t changed substantially in relation to the economy, some owners are unable to pay the fees to recover their impounded dogs. Two owners on Monday morning said they couldn’t afford the cost of redeeming their pet. “We’ve had quite a few lately, who’ve lost their jobs, have the possibility of losing their homes and are asking for some kind of payment plan,” Winters said. The charge to redeem a dog on its first impoundment is $86, with a charge of either $11 if it’s spayed or neutered or $23 if it isn’t. Winters said people are establishing priorities, whether it’s hawking a TV to get their dog out, or event applying a spaying or neutering to the cost of the redemption. People interested in donating to the Shiloh Foundation can phone (530) 823-9517 or go to theshilohfoundation.com. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.