TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It was a much different scene at the Wild Hearts Rescue Ranch out in Marana than it was back in July.
The seven equines that call the rescue home for the time being are lucky to be there. They’re safe from abuse, able to roam about their fenced-off areas, and can freely munch on some hay. Just months ago, they were starving.
"It really was an ideal rescue," said Jessica Gray, who runs the ranch.
A rescue of six horses and a donkey from Tucson's south side, living some of their lives facing what the Pima County Sheriff's Department called abuse and neglect. Gray has opened the gate to a new life for these animals, full of love and care.
"This is my favorite part of rescue. To pull in a group of reasonably young horses with good futurity that have a lot left to give and a lot of time left on this earth. We can really perfect a life for them," she said.
The ones who have needed the most attention are the two mares, expecting new babies of their own soon.
Gray told Tucson News Now that all of them have made tremendous strides in recovery, including three-year-old, Harry who was among the group getting his check up from the vet on Thursday.
"He's at a really nice weight. He still has some balance issues and a bad relationship with his feet because they were poorly cared for."
Gray has rescued more than 400 through Wild Hearts.
The nonprofit has served criminally abused and neglected horses and animals since 2013. It’s a passion fueled by the kind of help horses have given her throughout her toughest years.
“No matter what I faced, these animals always made sure that I had a strong shoulder to lean on," said Gray. "So I wanted to do the same for them.”
She'll continue to do so, as long as her services are needed.
Wild Hearts Rescue Ranch is taking applications for adoption for some of the horses with the Southside Seven.
Gray told us the rescue of the Southside Seven has been expensive. Thousands have been spent on their recoveries, and more is still needed.