Couple open farm and home to abused animals

2010-07-22 00:00

IT’S not unusual for Patty and Peter I’ons to have an 18 hand-high stallion walk through their lounge and into their kitchen. In fact, it’s all in a day’s work for the couple who have turned their Alverstone home into an animal rescue centre.

Out-of-the-Blue Animal Rescue is a safe haven for animals that have been neglected or abandoned. What started out as the home of one horse and her foal, Blue, has now turned into a sanctuary for 35 horses, 23 dogs, seven donkeys, a goat and five cats.

Focusing on the “three R’s” of animal care: rescue, rehabilitate and rehome, the I’onses and their dedicated staff have nursed the animals back to health, providing them with a home, food and shelter.

Although the animals have 42 acres of farm to enjoy, many prefer to potter around the farmhouse, which is always a hive of activity.

Patty I’ons said the farm’s name reflects the way the rescue centre came into being. “Everything about this organisation came out of the blue. I was able to buy the farm with an inheritance from my mother’s cousin, which came out of the blue,” she said.

“And then when we got our first horse no one knew she was with foal, so essentially we ended up with two horses — completely out of the blue!” she said.

“Animals give us so much joy, and I knew I wanted to rescue those in bad situations,” she said.

Out-of-the-Blue staffers refer to Patty as a “softie”, saying she loves each animal like a child and becomes immensely attached to each one.

Judy Theunissen, who manages the stables and yard, said she has dealt with animals that have been the victims of appalling abuse. “Some animals that come here have been treated so badly that we have to work incredibly hard at gaining their trust and rehabilitating them,” she said.

Theunissen offers horseriding lessons on the property, and has taught children with autism and physical disabilities to ride.

“I get so much fulfilment from helping those children ride, and it is truly amazing to see the fulfilment they get from working with these animals.”

Along with the team, Theunissen also cares for animals that in normal circumstances would have been put down.

One animal benefiting from Out-of-the-Blue’s “retirement” programme is strapping stallion Fagan, who was in active service with the SA Police Force in Pretoria in 1969.

Out-of-the-Blue recently applied for recognition as an official non-profit organisation. To raise the funds it needs, it depends on donations and hosts regular fundraising events.

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