MYSTIC, Iowa -- Beth Miner of Mystic is scared. This past weekend, the barn at her non-profit animal rescue Heart for Hooves burned down. Several of her rescued animals died in the blaze.
"We had two nannies and their five kids in there," Miner says, "There are just no words to describe coming out and seeing that lives were taken. I mean...it's hard."
What's even harder is going forward, knowing that the remaining animals, almost 20-horses, some goats and a llama won't have a barn to duck into during these sub zero nights. Miner has a hard time looking at the still smoldering ruins. She spent a lot of time in this barn with her animals.
"When the animals come in and they're malnourished they're not strong enough to do...they're not strong enough to do everything on their own so we slept in the barn with them. We make sure that we're there to meet all of their needs," Miner says, "All the kids and all the volunteers they come out and help."
Many of those same kids who come from broken homes built the barn for the animals they love. "The boys that come out here and stay, they learn how to run screw guns and hammers and drills and they built it for us so we had a place where the animals could stay warm and completely enclosed," Miner says, "If they can't connect with people they can connect with animals. So it helps everybody...the animals included."
For now, volunteers have built temporary shelters with old wood and plastic sheeting. Miner hopes that will be enough. "That everybody stays warm. We have two foals that would normally be in the barn that now we've got them out in the lean-to areas, heavily bedded own but it's still gonna be cold. We have the nanny that's going to have her kids soon in our garage now as a makeshift barn and stall."
The budget for feeding these animals is about $500 per week. The farm did have plenty of hay but much of it was destroyed in the fire. "Too much smoke damage and the animals won't eat it," Miner says, "We'll roll it out for bedding , let them pick through and eat what they want but they won't eat much of it."
Investigators believe an electrical problem was to blame for the fire. The barn was insured, but Miner doubts she will get enough to rebuild. So she's asking for your help. if you would be willing to donate some cash, there are instructions on the organization's Facebook page.
Miner says if she can make it through the next few frigid days Heart for Hooves should be fine. They'll get by. It'll be hard, Miner says, but it's worth it. "It is very stressful at times. but we do it for the love of the animals," Miner says, "And they give us back all the love that we give them."