Fire­fighter finds time to help res­cue horses

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY ROBERT MED­LEY Staff Writer rmed­ley@oklahoman.com

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.

ROBERT MED­LEY, THE OKLAHOMAN] [PHOTO BY

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.

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