by Kristin Dewey, BlogPaws Special Projects Manager
BlogPaws Community member Melanie Sue Bowles and her husband Jim have dedicated
their lives to horses no one else wants. They started Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary in 1991 with five acres of land, and today it’s an award winning 175
acre Georgia facility that’s rescued, adopted or intervened on behalf of more than 500
horses. Proud Spirit is one of very few true horse sanctuaries in the U.S. The
horses are not adopted out. Once they arrive, they are home, and the deep bonds
that horses form with their mates and offspring are maintained and honored.
The Bowles' were not born horse people.
The long and humorous story of how two firefighter/medics in Sarasota, Florida
came to rescue their first horse, an emaciated and abused Thoroughbred mare
named Cody, warrants and receives its own chapter in Melanie's first book, The
Horses of Proud Spirit. One day, after a few months of love and care,
Cody lifted her head, tall, proud and incredibly dignified, even after all
she'd been through. Melanie remarked to Jim, "No matter what they endure,
their spirit remains proud," and the Proud Spirit Sanctuary was
Proud Spirit is one of very few true horse
sanctuaries in the U.S. The horses are not adopted out. Once they arrive, they
are home, and the deep bonds that horses form with their mates and offspring
are maintained and honored.
Melanie likes to say, "When you open
your heart and your home to animals in need it sort of becomes like a field of
dreams: Build it and they will come." Jim and Melanie presently care for
51 horses, 13 dogs (all part of the family, all in the house and all over the
furniture), two pigs and two cats – without any additional staff or volunteers.
While they network with dozens of rescue organizations for dogs, cats, horses,
and other animals, they prefer to do all the work themselves and steer clear of
the bickering, drama and hurt feelings they've seen disrupt many volunteer
organizations. Proud Spirit is dedicated above all to healing, and avoids
negativity at all costs.
A PBS producer
was so moved by the stories in The Horses of Proud Spirit that
she filmed an Emmy Award winning documentary about the sanctuary, which described their program as "exemplary" and a "model for other organizations."
The sanctuary is funded by contributions, the
Bowle’s own savings, and the proceeds from Melanie's three books: The
Horses of Proud Spirit, Hoof Prints: Stories from Proud Spirit,
and the newly published The Dogs of Proud Spirit.
Their urgent need right now is the
$10-12,000 2012/13 winter hay fund. For those who want to help Proud Spirit
continue their wonderful work, contributions are greatly appreciated, of
course, but buying Melanie's books – for yourselves, or as gifts – are gifts
that give twice. You can buy them on Amazon.com. Melanie says that simply telling others about what they're doing
is also important.
They're aware of how important social media is to animal welfare organizations. Unfortunately, as a two person operation, Melanie and Jim just don't often the energy to blog or update Facebook page as much as they'd like. While Proud Spirit isn't open to the public, they are happy to arrange tours to show off their horses and would especially welcome pet bloggers who'd like to write about the Sanctuary. Their contact info is on their website at HorsesofProudSpirit.org. Tell them BlogPaws sent you!
All photos courtesy of Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary.