ARL celebrates Willow's first birthday

Jo Parto and Willow visit with friends.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County celebrated Willow’s first birthday Aug. 31.

Willow, the horse, was rescued last year on Aug. 9. Friends of the Animal Rescue League were invited to meet Willow and enjoy birthday cake. There was also a bake sale and a raffle to benefit the ARL’s Noel and Grey Muzzle funds.

Willow was rescued from a field in the Oley area on Aug. 9, 2012 after a tip came in to Humane Officers Jo Parto and Allison Rudy that six horses were in a field with no access to food or water. The two traveled to the farm where they found the adult horses but also found an unexpected foal estimated to be two to five days old.

“She was laying flat out, she was severely underweight and couldn’t stand on her own. If she wouldn’t have raised her head, we wouldn’t have even known she was there. We knew we had to act fast if we were going to save her life,” Parto said.

The foal weighed just 64 pounds and fit into a large dog crate in the back of an ARL vehicle. She was rushed back to the ARL where an on-call vet met them to begin intensive care.

The vet quickly decided that Willow needed neo-natal care and so Parto and Rudy drove 40 miles in a downpour to the Quakertown Veterinary Clinic. Upon her arrival, Willow was suffering from Grand Mal seizures, was septic, malnourished, dehydrated and had an infected umbilicus from the poor conditions where she’d laid since birth.

“Everything that could be wrong, was wrong,” says Parto “things were very touch and go for the first two days.”

After two weeks of intensive care under the careful supervision of Dr. Reagan at Quakertown Vet, Willow was released, along with vet bills totaling $8,000. The ARL sent out a plea to its supporters for donations to its Noel Fund which provides emergency care to animals in the shelter’s care. More than $5,000 was raised through three grants and numerous individual donations.

Jo Parto and her husband Ben stepped up to foster the foal that needed to be fed every three hours upon her release from the vet.

Today, Willow is a happy and healthy horse who will probably always be on the small side. The full-bred Appaloosa will, in a few years, be a great riding horse, but first needs to find her forever home. Interested parties should contact Jo Parto directly at Jparto@BerksARL.org or 610-373-8830 ext. 104.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County is the only open admission shelter in Berks accepting more than 10,000 animals annually. The shelter runs at maximum capacity throughout the year, providing adoption programs, spay/neuter clinics, community outreach, education, animal welfare investigation, and more. The ARL’s mission is to impact all aspects of humane treatments of animals through quality service, accommodation and education of pet owners and the community.