Rescue Horses Share Unique Bond - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Rescue Horses Share Unique Bond

SPARTA, Wis. (WXOW) – There's a quiet animal shelter hidden away in rural Sparta called Tina's K-9 Rescue and Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary houses animals of all different shapes and sizes. Some of these animals are adopted out, while others make the shelter their permanent home.

Val and Dante are two horses that were surrendered to the shelter three and a half years ago. Since then, they have developed a close bond.

“Dante and Val together are perfect,” said Tina Herfel, founder and president of Tina's K-9 Rescue and Sanctuary. “They help each other out.”

Val and Dante came to Tina's on the same day. They came from different locations and with different physical and emotional needs. But this didn't stop their bond from growing.

“Val is blind, and was when she came,” said Kat Rau, Volunteer at Tina's K-9 Rescue and Animal Sanctuary. “Probably due to lack of nutrition. We're not sure but that's a good possibility.”

Val came from a neglected home where she lived alongside dozens of of other animals crammed into a single barn. She was never groomed and rarely fed.

“I had that vision in my head of [Val] being skin and bones for so long,” said Herfel. “I would ask my volunteers 'do you still see ribs on her?' and they'd say 'no.' But I felt that I could still see ribs on her.”

Dante, on the other hand, was surrendered because of a vitamin E deficiency that made him undesirable to his current owners.

“He looks normal until you see him walk with his back legs,” said Herfel. “He looks like he's going to trip himself.”

Despite the odds, the two horses have flourished. And they've done so together.

“He kind of became Val's eyes and Val became his stability,” said Rau. “At times when he was wobbly she'd support him.”

“It's indescribable,” said Herfel. “I love watching them. He's out there trotting around and she just kind of follows and listens to where he's at.”

Val and Dante will spend the rest of their days living comfortably at the rescue. But for many animals, the reality is much darker.

“There could be places like this, several places within each county out here,” said Rau, “and it probably would not fulfill the needs that are truly out there.”

But you have to start someplace, and right now Tina's K-9 Rescue hopes to make the world a better place, one animal at a time.

This Saturday, Tina's K-9 Rescue and Animal Sanctuary will be holding their second annual poker run fundraiser. All money raised will go directly to the rescue. Last year they had around 35 participants, this year they are hoping for 100.

Herfel said some of the long term projects include improving Val and Dante's barn and creating another area to accommodate the high volume of cats at the rescue.

More information on the poker run can be found at

A youtube video with more information about Tina's K-9 Rescue and how to make donations can be found at .

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