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Owner Brent Glover brings nearly 100 neglected horses to his shelter during a good year.
By BRANDON SEILER
Cross-posted from the Daily Evergreen
Brent Glover needs some help with his animal shelter.
“The doctors look at me and say I shouldn’t be doing anything I’m doing,” he said. “‘You’re a basket case, you shouldn’t be doing this; you should be reading good books, watching TV and sitting in front of the fire,’ (they say).” On his 50-acre plot of land just outside of Viola, Idaho, Glover, 56, puts in hard days of physical labor for his nonprofit animal shelter, Orphan Acres.
In a good year, the shelter, which Glover began in 1975, will bring in as many as 100 neglected horses from around the country. One of the horses, Lil Blue McGoo, who starred as the main ride of American holy man Kicking Bird in “Dances with Wolves,” arrived at the shelter in 2002.
Glover acts as the main operator and sole human resident of the property.
“I have to be a jack of all trades,” he said. “I feed and care for the animals, I do most of their medical treatment. I cut and bail all the hay. I build the fences. I’m the mechanic. I do the majority of trying to find and write grants. I mean I’m it pretty much.” After a full day of work, Glover is commonly up until daybreak, trying to find ways to keep Orphan Acres alive.
“I guess I’ve got compassion for the animals and part of that would probably come from my own life experiences,” he said. “I’ve had some major injuries and major accidents myself and lot of people feel that I just relate with the animals and the conditions they’re in because I’ve had similar situations myself.”
A LIFETIME OF CHALLENGES
Glover’s physical traumas began in 1985 when his back broke in a car accident. In 1991, while working construction in a manhole, a 450-pound chunk of concrete fell on his head and back, causing massive damage and placing him permanently on disability pay.
In 1995, he broke his leg and six years later lost a third of his foot from a staph infection because his doctor mishandled the injury during the recovery process, resulting in a malpractice suite.
Several weeks ago, Glover broke a rib while working on a tractor and a few days later broke two more when one of his horses collided with him. Glover said there wasn’t anything the doctors could do and he opted to work through the pain.
A SMALL-TOWN OPERATION
Glover didn’t start the animal shelter by himself.
“People started bringing me animals, numerous different types of animals,” he said. “I’ve done a little bit of everything and it just kind of evolved from ‘Take it to Brent–he’ll fix it.’ I didn’t even pick out the name Orphan Acres, people just started saying ‘Hey, you can take it out to Orphan Acres, he’ll take care of it.’ It just evolved.” The need for Orphan Acres is mounting at a particularly unfortunate time, Glover said.
Recently, the U.S. passed a horse slaughter ban that prohibits horse owners from slaughtering their unwanted horses, and the economic recession is making it more expensive to own a horse.
“A problem that’s arising because of that is horses are being abandoned,” said Dan Tedor, a senior agricultural education major and employee at the WSU Center for Civic Engagement. “They’re neglected and abused because people just literally can’t afford to feed these animals so they will leave them in other people’s pastures.” The escalating price of hay also is a problem, Glover said. In 2007, the price of hay was $80 per ton. This year, it’s reached $200.
He said banks are not willing or able to help in the wake of the economic recession and the resulting restrictions being applied to lenders.
“Unfortunately I’m on one of these arm loans,” Glover said. “When I landed up in the hospital and lost a third of my foot, I had medical bills to pay and that was how they got paid. Being like everybody else you believe the bank, it doesn’t work. I mean they’re out to make money.” Glover subsists mainly on his disability pay, making the financial crunch on his shelter particularly tough to deal with.
“He’s on the disability pay and he uses pretty much 100 percent of that money to go toward the horses, so he kind of neglects his own medical needs at times to make sure that the horses are taken care of,” Tedor said.
A CHANCE FOR RELIEF
Despite the grim scenario, Glover is looking toward a possible bright spot in the near future.
A neighbor who owns 116 acres of adjoining property to Orphan Acres is offering Glover the land for roughly half the market price. If Glover could bring in enough grant money and donations to purchase it, he could grow his own hay and greatly reduce the cost of feeding the horses.
Glover said he has little time to track down funding while maintaining the shelter’s upkeep. Orphan Acres averages nearly 20,000 volunteer hours per year from various organizations, but could use much more, he said.
The WSU Collegiate Horsemen’s Association, in particular, has logged nearly 199 service hours this semester at Orphan Acres.
“(Glover’s) got a lot of chores. He’s got a lot of things that need to be done, and he’ll let you do whatever it is that you feel comfortable to do,” said CHA President Stephanie Briggs, a senior zoology major. “A lot of people over do themselves and then just disappear, they promise him a whole bunch of things and then just up and leave.” Despite the rough times, Glover is going about his business and taking his work day by day.
“We’ve got 65 horses right now,” he said. “We can’t just take off and say, ‘Well, I’m not going to do this anymore.’ What do you do with the 65 horses? There’s still a responsibility here to take care of these animals so you just have to go as long as you can and keep working at it, caring for the animals and trying to find homes to place ‘em. You just keep working at it.”