RVR Horse Rescue 'pays it forward' to help Puerto Rico

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RVR Horse Rescue experienced its own struggles after Hurricane Irma, but thanks to the community they recovered, and decided to pay it forward to the Puerto Rico horses impacted by Hurricane Maria.

Last year, Good Day Tampa Bay was with RVR Horse Rescue when they had to evacuate their horses to the State Fairgrounds in order to give the horses as much shelter as they could.

"After Hurricane Irma, we were tremendously flooded. We had to move all the horses to the back acreage of the property," described Kelly Ford with RVR Horse Rescue. "We had trouble getting hay. The trailer that holds our hay had a tree that fell on it. We had no electricity.

She said the situation could have been much worse, but the community helped them get back on their feet.

"We feel very fortunate," Kelly told FOX 13 News, "and we also know that someday it could be our turn so we wanted to lend a helping hand when we could."

Once things calmed down at RVR, they went right back to doing what they do best: helping horses. The organization was so thankful for the community they wanted to pay it forward, and began taking in several Thoroughbred horses from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

"They were at the racetrack, in cement stalls, in their own manure and urine for -- some of them -- up to 70 days," said Lisa Gold with RVR Horse Rescue, "which is detrimental to their health."

"No feet. No horse" is a saying that RVR didn't want to make come true. Along with another organization, Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc., they arranged to have the horses brought to Riverview.

The horses were flown from San Juan to Miami in special corrals on the plane. Then, driven four hours north to Hillsborough County.

It was an opportunity and experience they were thankful to be a part of because next time, it could be RVR that sends out the S.O.S., they said.

"It makes me feel so gracious to the community for their support and makes me know that even in an area decimated," Gold said, "there is light and people to help and we are so blessed and honored that we are able to do this for these animals."