A love of horses and a humbling dedication to help are the reasons Cobh woman Kelly Mellerick has been a stalwart volunteer with the animal charity My Lovely Horse Rescue (MLHR) for the past three years.
On 22 acres of land, MLHR has 30 horses in their care, all rescued from situations of neglect or cruelty.
The charity has another 30 animals in foster care across Cork county.
Asked how she got involved in the charity, Kelly said she always had a love for horses and she had noticed that there was a negative situation in relation to urban horses in the city.
“I noticed their need for care and the shortfalls within the community for the appropriate care of horses.”
Kelly, who works as a property manager, said she also started saving animals from the meat factory by buying them from a factory dealer and then somewhere along the way, she got in contact with MLHR.
Chatting about what drives the mother of two to give up her spare time to help out with the charity organisation, Kelly said it is about standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
“The animals do not have a voice. Our team and I take pride in being their voice and giving them the best chance at a good life.”
Kelly said she loves helping out with MLHR.
“I love helping the horses, it is so rewarding to take them from awful situations and help them trust people and regain their strength. We have a great team in the Cork branch and we are always there for each other, through good times and bad.”
The volunteer said there is a huge reward in helping animals.
“Sometimes the best things in life are free, I believe by donating my time and efforts, the animals benefit.”
Discussing the workload as a volunteer within an animal charity, Kelly said she can be giving anything from two hours to several hours a day.
“We have about 12 regular volunteers who help out,” Kelly said.
“Every morning volunteers will go to the farm and feed the horses and check in on them, do a few jobs and in the evening another volunteer will do the same.”
Kelly said if there is a horse in a delicate state, further check-ins and care is required.
MLHR is constantly recieving messages about horses in trouble and a big part of their work is liaising with other organisations and bodies, such as the gardaí, ISPCA, and the Deprtment of Agriculture in order to ensure the best action is taken in the interests of the animals.
The volunteer said that this year, since Covid struck, there have been a lot of horses abandoned.
“Since the pandemic, we have taken in a lot of horses, it has been a tough year.
“A lot of people would have bought horses to sell at a fair or a sale, but they were all stopped this year, so they were stuck with the animals and they didn’t want them.”
Kelly said she also works with the Traveller Visibility Group (TVG) carrying out workshops and educational classes, teaching the kids how to properly look after horses.
“I think respect and love for animals should be a part of the education curriculum for all children, maybe through CSPE or something like that,” Kelly said.
“Kids love to learn and it is important that they learn to be a voice for animals. I would love to see more education around animals for children.”
Kelly also has two of her own horses which she says she has less and less time to ride out, due to her volunteer work.
“The horses need us, that is a big part of why I do this. We know that they need us.”
The property manager said there are, of course, situations where there is no happy ending, but she said that does not take from all the other animals that need their help.
“It does hurt when we do everything we can for an animal and they don’t make it. It takes a chip from me every time, but the work we do is needed.”
The dedicated volunteer also said that while there are tragic cases that don’t make it, there are also amazing success stories with many animals getting a new lease of life thanks to the work of MLHR.
The mother of two, Oisín (17) and Lauren (25), said she felt very lucky to be a part of MLHR over the past year.
“It was fantastic to have a purpose throughout lockdown. I love going to see the horses and making sure they are alright.”
Kelly said she always sees herself giving her time to help animals.
“I never see myself stopping. It is such a massive part of my heart.”
To find out more about the animal charity, or to donate to the cause, you can log onto their website on www.mylovelyhorserescue.com.