Story at a glance
- Wildfires in California have displaced thousands of residents in recent weeks.
- The Valley Fire in San Diego burned down Hyslop Horse Haven, a sanctuary for abused and neglected horses.
- While some horses had been evacuated, others remained — and survived.
Twenty horses were saved for a second time after a rescue ranch was burned to the ground in the Valley Fire that has spread to 17,665 acres in San Diego over 11 days.
“It was one of the scariest things that we’ve ever been through,” owner Patty Hyslop told FOX 5. “When I saw those hundred-foot flames coming at us...I [thought I] was going to come back the next day to dead horses or severely burnt horses. And if they had died, I think I would’ve died with them. My heart would have just broken.”
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For more than 20 years, Hyslop Horse Haven has been a sanctuary for rescue horses and for children — as well as Hyslop herself, who credits the horses with helping her cope with multiple sclerosis.
“If it weren’t for all the rest of the horses I don’t think she would still be here today,” Shylynn Wellman, who grew up at the ranch and now resides on the property, told ABC 10.
A GoFundMe, organized by Jessica Catanzaro, has raised nearly $10,000 to help care for the horses, as well as go toward costs of rebuilding and new equipment.
“My shed alone, there was probably $10,000 worth of tack and medications feed everything inside and it’s just all gone,” Hope Gilces, Hyslop’s niece who lived on the ranch for a time, told FOX 5.
“My daughter Hope attended Steele Canyon HS and resided at this Horse Haven where she was under guardianship and care. She learned compassion care and respect," wrote her father, Luis Gilces, in the comments along with a $100 donation.
Hyslop told ABC 10 her horses are being housed at The Lucky Seven Ranch for now, but she hopes to be operational again soon.
“These kids come to me and say I want to grow up to be like you, I want to know as much as you do, I want to help horses, too. Oh it just fills my heart with joy,” she told ABC 10.
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