Local animal advocates take vacation time, travel at own expense, to help neglected horses in West Virginia; form new friendship in the process
Wake County, NC (June 17, 2010) – Penny Beal of Apex and Lisa Ammirati of Fuquay-Varina live less than 25 miles apart, but they had to travel 400 miles to West Virginia to help animals in order to become friends.
Lisa Ammirati of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, spent four days caring for horses, mules and donkeys rescued from neglect in West Virginia.
Beal and Ammirati recently took vacation time from work, packed their bags and drove to Mason County, West Virginia, where, as volunteers with California-based United Animal Nations (UAN), they helped shelter and care for 49 horses, mules and donkeys rescued in one of the largest equine cruelty cases in the state’s history.
The four-day trip was hardly a vacation from their normal routines: The women put in long days of hard, physical labor – hauling hay, filling water buckets, mucking stalls and socializing frightened animals. Beal, 47, works in the Corporate Pharmacy Department at Blue Cross & Blue Shield and Ammirati, 37, for the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation; but for both women, their true calling is to help animals.
“It takes a special person to care for animals who have suffered trauma and Penny’s patience and gentle touch made her a perfect volunteer for the equines in our care,” said Colleen Bailey of
Distinguished by their red shirts, UAN volunteers are specially trained to care for animals at temporary shelters after they have been rescued from cruelty and neglect situations or displaced by natural disasters. UAN has 3,000 trained, active volunteers in the
Penny Beal of Apex, North Carolina took time off of work but hardly got a vacation when she traveled to West Virginia to help 49 once-neglected animals as a volunteer with UAN.
The animals Beal and Ammirati cared for were found in horrible condition on a property in Wayne County, West Virginia on May 27. Many were extremely emaciated and had a variety of medical ailments including overgrown, infected hooves, parasite infestation and untreated wounds. Concerned local citizens, shocked by the condition of the equines, complained to local officials and an investigation and rescue ensued. UAN was called in to provide sheltering support, a core competency of the organization. A total of 33 UAN volunteers from 9 states and 2 Canadian provinces responded. The owner of the horses pleaded guilty to animal cruelty on June 8 and relinquished custody of the animals. They are being transferred to equine rescue organizations for foster care and adoption.
“My drive [to volunteer] comes from my belief that no animal deserves to suffer, whether as a result of nature or at the hands of a human,” Beal said. “It is challenging being face-to-face with the reality of how insensitive human beings can be to animals, but it solidifies my resolve to change people’s attitudes toward animals.”
“Animals and their well-being have been my passion for as long as I can remember,” Ammirati said. “Writing letters to my elected representatives about animal abuse laws and issues is the easy part. Facing animal-related disasters, whether natural or man-made, that’s the hard part. In the middle of the fray, making order out of chaos and doing the best I humanly can for any and all animals – that’s where I belong.”
When she isn’t volunteering with UAN, Beal and her husband manage two feral cat colonies and rescue individual homeless animals. She is a former volunteer with Golden Retriever Rescue and Operation Cat Nip in
Ammirati was inspired to become a UAN volunteer after Hurricane Katrina, when she saw a photo of an emaciated, stray pit bull dragging a chain around his neck. She attended a UAN volunteer training workshop in 2008 and in 2009 responded to a puppy mill case in Wilson County, North Carolina and a horse cruelty case in
Founded in 1987, United Animal Nations (UAN) focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals through a variety of programs, including emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. Learn more at www.uan.org.