MAYPEARL – Dawn Walsh has a heart for stray animals – especially horses that have been abandoned or stand in danger of being sold to slaughterhouses.

“I’m so tenderhearted when it comes to animals in need, I’ll stop if I even see a turtle in the road on his back and will turn him back over so he can get out of the road,” said Walsh, who operates an Ellis County-based rescue, Never Enuff Acres.

Dawn and her husband, Phil, relocated to Texas from California, where he worked for EDS as a computer-networking consultant, in 2001, investing in a 10-acre tract near Maypearl.

“One evening I found some information on an animal rescue Web site called Mustang-Spirit,” Walsh said.

A photo posted on the Web site of a foal in need of a forever home caught more than her eye.

“My heart broke. I just lost it,” Burns said, saying she told her husband she had to have it.

As matters turned out, her husband was acquainted with people in the organization and, after going through the adoptive process, the foal was on his way to their place.

“The foal’s name was Alvin,” Walsh said. “I adopted him in February 2004 as my first horse rescue.”

Under Walsh’s care, the once helpless, malnourished foal has since been renamed Rohan, a more robust name for the now large, healthy horse that interacts well with people.

“He is just the love of my life,” Walsh said, noting that after Rohan’s arrival, “I always seemed to be finding one animal in need after another.

“My 93-year-old grandma used to tell me that she thinks animals find me because they know I’ll take care of them,” she said. “And I do, but the problem was, as only one person, I had limited funds and resources.”

Armed with emotional and financial support of her family and friends, Walsh soon found herself in the animal rescue business, with Never Enuff Acres – like most rescue organizations – coming about out of necessity, she said.

“I have rescued horses that were one day away from either having a bullet put in them or going off to the slaughterhouse,” she said. “After they have been rescued and are safely on our acreage and have been cared for and fed, they will bury their face into my chest and just give a long sigh, which is their way of saying, ‘Oh, thank you.’”

Walsh said she knows horses not only recognize and respond to affection, but they seem to have a sense of awareness that they have been rescued.

Walsh recalled a trip she and a fellow rescue volunteer and long-time friend, Rheta Grove, made to rescue two old horses, Chief, age 30, and 20-something-year-old Shadow, from a dry lot in Marble Falls.

“They were emaciated and their owner was moving out of state in a couple of days,” Walsh said. “It was a difficult (three-hour) trip for them and we weren’t even sure they’d survive that first night, but we felt satisfied that even if they did pass away, at least their last few hours would be happier ones and they would have full bellies.”

The two horses not only survived, but thrived and regained their health, she said, praising the care her herd receives from her veterinarian and farrier.

She’s proud to say Chief lived a comfortable life for several more years before arthritis and other health complications necessitated a decision to call the vet out to put him down.

“He went easy,” Walsh said, her eyes filling with tears at the memory of having to let Chief go. “I’ll never let an animal be alone when he dies. That animal will always have people around him loving on him and talking to him.”

Not Enuff Acres, which incorporated in 2005, is a nonprofit organization that is dependent on charitable donations and is always in need of volunteers to assist with the animals.

Walsh also is always on the lookout for people who are willing to work with her as a foster home for rescued horses.

“Unfortunately, the work of a rescue is never done,” Walsh said. “There is always another animal in need of help. Some days it seems like we just aren’t making a difference, but, when I look into the eyes of a rescued horse like Chief or Shadow, I know we've made a difference.”

For further information about Never Enuff Acres or information about horse adoption, visit www.neverenuffacres.org or call 972-765-1823.

E-mail Paul at paul.gauntt@waxahachiedailylight.com