By YVETTE C. HAMMETT
Abuse and neglect of horses is not something that makes the headlines regularly, but it is a huge problem throughout Florida. For those who heed the call to help these animals escape torture — and often starvation — it’s expensive.
Sandy Zebron found that out firsthand through her volunteer work with Riverview’s RVR Horse Rescue. It prompted her to open the state’s first thrift store to focus just on this issue.
Save a Horse Thrift opened in Sun City Center in fall 2017 and is now offering up cash donations to RVR and several other rescue operations specifically related to horses.
“I’ve been riding horses since I was a kid. I used to show horses and have pretty much stayed in with the horse community for about 10 years,” Zebron said. “I ran across RVR Horse Rescue and went there to volunteer five years ago and ended up (adopting) three horses. That’s what happens. It’s infectious. You can’t help it.”
“She supports our Angels program and has talked about getting enough money from her store to sponsor a horse at the rescue,” said RVR board member Thea Elliot.
“Our Angels program is basically when people (horse owners) find themselves in a financial need they can contact us, and we do our due diligence. We inspect the property and see what is going on to make sure we are not being scammed. We will help them out with feed, hay or for veterinary care or if a horse needs to be euthanized when an owner doesn’t have the money for vet bills,” Elliot said.
Zebron gave up her position on the RVR board to spend more time with her own horses, she said. One was only 5 months old at the time. “But still, I wanted to give back, to contribute back.”
From her research, Zebron believes she may have the first thrift store in the nation dedicated specifically for rescue horses.
“There is a ton of need,” she said. “Most people just don’t even realize the vastness of the abuse that goes on in the horse world. Starvation and physical abuse goes on and on and on.”
“Apparently, it looks really nice the way I’ve set it up. It is a boutique without the boutique prices. I am pretty blessed,” Zebron said. “We take smaller furniture, kitchen stuff, men’s and women’s clothes, shoes, art, jewelry. It’s a good variety.
“We have a mix of clients from girls still in high school on up to seniors. We get donations from that same variety of people. In Sun City Center, some of the other strip stores get merchandise from elderly estates. We tend to get more from people who are middle aged, younger or even older.” The notion that they are helping horses is the big draw, she said.
“We do get busy in the shop,” she said. “It’s been wonderful. You never know what is coming in the door. And people are very, very generous.
“We are a social purpose corporation, which is new in Florida,” Zebron explained. “It is a for-profit, but all profit is distributed after the bills are paid. I want to help as many animals as I can.”
To learn more, visit http://www.saveahorsethrift.org/ or call 813-444-4064.