MIDDLETON (CBS) – “Now look at him he’s so happy,” said Janine Jacques as she brushed Grumpy.
Grumpy used to live up to his name, but saving mules and anything from the equine family keeps a gallop in Janine Jacques’ step.
“130,000 horses go to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, and I rescue them from the kill pens,” said Jacques.
She runs Equine Rescue Network – buying animals meant for slaughter and re-homing them.
Donations trickle in and then suddenly money came in by the hundreds.
“I had no idea,” said Jacques.
The money was in the name of 20-year-old murder victim Olivia Bergstrom. She loved her horse Thunder, and the family asked donations be made to Janine’s organization, even though they had never met.
“I started doing some research and I started thinking about the poor girl’s life, and what had happened to her, and how I would spend the money,” said Jacques.
Donations made in Olivia’s name allowed the group to save eight donkeys like Luna from slaughter and they will become part of the newly formed Team Olivia.
The donkeys are not yet in Massachusetts, but a picture shows three of those saved. Team Olivia is now the name of a project Janine was already working on and needed funding. The idea is to help two groups whom she has seen first-hand benefit each other. She will keep a stable of donkeys and train them to race with veterans suffering from PTSD.
It’s called pack burro racing, more common in Colorado, and it looks something like what four teenagers demonstrated for us, yet more organized and over many miles. The person runs alongside the donkey on a course.
Seniors from the local high school are volunteering to get the idea moving.
“That it really means something to the community and especially to her family, I think that’s really important,” said David Gaudin, a high school senior.
Late Wednesday night, another $1,000 was donated in Olivia’s name to keep her memory alive with a mission.