Firefighter finds time to help rescue horses
Oklahoma City firefighter Tony Dowdy has always had an interest in helping people and volunteering in his community.
When he decided last year to find a horse for his family, he found a new calling in volunteer work that involves the same passion for horses that he has for people.
After adopting a rescued horse, Dowdy, 27, is now spending his free time rescuing more horses that need to be adopted too, he said.
It was his horse named Rosie that opened his eyes to the plight of many other horses, he said.
After being seized by law officers in a case of horse neglect, Rosie spent three years in the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare shelter, Dowdy said.
She had a foal while at the shelter and she remained there before finally being adopted by Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue near Jones.
In November, Dowdy, and his wife Kayla Dowdy, decided it was time to get a horse for their daughters Myla, 4, and Isabel, 2, to live on their land near Newalla.
Dowdy’s father, Steven Dowdy, had worked at the Oklahoma City animal shelter and urged his son to go to Blaze’s Tribute in northeast Oklahoma County. There, Tony Dowdy met owners Natalee and Shawn Cross who then introduced him to horses that had been rescued from animal cruelty cases.
Rosie noticed Dowdy that day and she followed him around the pen until he noticed her, Dowdy said.
And Rosie’s buddy, another rescued horse named Clark Gable, took a liking to Kayla and ended up going home too with the Dowdys. It was not long before the Dowdys started spending their free time volunteering to help the other horses and mules find permanent homes.
Dowdy has been a firefighter three years and works at Station 9 in south Oklahoma City.
Adopting a rescued horse has turned into a rewarding calling for him, and one that has a lot of work to do ahead, he said.
“It really just kind of opened my eyes to the whole need for horse rescue and need for somebody to work on the side of the animals, so I’ve recently developed kind of a passion for that,” he said.
Dowdy has helped Blaze’s with fundraising efforts, trail rides, events and anything he’s needed to do, he said. The rescued horses often have to be trained to ride before being adopted, he said. The need for donations and volunteers is yearround.
Finding new owners to adopt rescued horses to keep them for life is a challenge, he said.
“The biggest thing for us is just to find these horses a forever home, find somebody who will take them and love them and keep them until they die,” Dowdy said.
Walking in a pen with a number of horses, and even a mule named Nutmeg nudging him for attention, Dowdy recalled the day he met Rosie at Blaze’s.
Rosie followed him around the pen, he said, while Clark Gable followed his wife around.
Blaze’s Tribute first found Clark Gable at an auction barn. The group found someone to adopt him, but then volunteers found him at an auction barn a second time.
Dowdy said he was glad the family has clicked with Rosie and Clark.
“Whenever I left with Rosie, we left with Clark. And we’ve been in love ever since,” Dowdy said.
He said other horses and mules at Blaze’s Tribute are good, loving animals who need homes too.
Natalee Cross, one of the group’s owners, said all money raised through adoption fees goes toward rescuing more animals. She couldn’t operate without volunteers like Dowdy, who helps with daily needs and who also pitched in at a recent fundraising event.
“We couldn’t do it without all of our board members and volunteers,” she said.
Oklahoma City firefighter Tony Dowdy shares a photo op with a mule named Nutmeg that was born with a disabled foot, while at Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue.