Katie Wilson knows all the horses by name.
There's Telly, Doc, Blaze, Riley and Ruger, who is actually not a horse at all but a bull that was rescued by the Wilsons at their Lennoxs Legacy Rescue near Decatur.
The rescue, which was started in 2009, focuses on equine and canine rescues but has found itself taking in additional farm animals when the need arises – like Ruger. The bull was rescued after his owner said he wouldn't survive and was ready to end his life. That was three years ago.
The rescue currently has just over 30 horses and 32 dogs. There are also cats and goats, including Ollie, who was the only survivor among 120 starved goats found in Missouri. They've also had pigs, turkeys and three prairie dogs.
Many of the horses and dogs they receive come from shelters all over the country. A lot of the horses are from seizure cases, seniors or aged-out males and females from breeders. One horse in the rescue's barn was saved from a slaughter house, Wilson says. Another is a 29-year-old horse from Steuben County that has back problems.
The horses and dogs are put up for adoption with the exception of those who have medical problems. Currently, Wilson says the shelter has two miniature horses ready to be adopted.
Lennoxs moved to Adams County in 2014. The rescue agency had outgrown its Allen County location and Wilson, along with her husband, Steve, found a 12-acre farm near Decatur. There are still eight acres that are wooded and that's where the Wilsons found another surprise – wild mustangs. The mustangs have never been touched and they regularly join the shelter's other horses.
Wilson grew up in a home with dogs and started out fostering animals for other rescue groups before deciding to open her own rescue.
“That's all we've ever done is rescue,” she says.
The rescue started out in Ossian where the couple lived. They received so many dogs that they relocated to a different property in Yoder. That's when they started getting horses. Wilson says people would just pull up and drop off the animals.
So far they have rescued 6,500 dogs, 100 horses, six goats and five pigs.
Although many people and agencies discover Lennoxs through social media, the shelter is still relatively unknown, Wilson says.
Wilson says she hopes more people become aware of the shelter so they can not only meet the needs of the animals they have now, but continue to expand their efforts.
The shelter operates purely on donations and money from adoptions. The agency has regular fundraisers to help with repairs and maintenance, such as recent installation of fencing around the property for the horses.
It takes about $10,000 a month to operate the facility. The shelter goes through about eight rounds of bales of hay a day, and that doesn't include the amount of grain it takes to feed the animals, the farrier bill and the fact the shelter is in need of another barn because of the number of animals.
Wilson says the shelter is in need of people with skill trades to help around the farm, and of course, volunteers who can provide transportation for the animals and are able to foster. Most of the dogs are in foster homes.
Wilson credits the shelter's success to its wonderful board and all of its volunteers. Without them, the shelter couldn't do what it's doing, says Wilson.
And the shelter also has become a family affair.
Steve Wilson has been on board with the rescue since they first got married, which was in a stable 24 years ago. The couple have three children – ages 22, 18 and 16.
Steve Wilson, who works at General Motors, says there are days when they get frustrated, especially when things break down. But he believes in what they are doing. He says the rescue agency is doubling in size every year.
Eventually, Katie Wilson hopes to open a riding center by partnering with other agencies to provide therapeutic riding for abused children.
But until then, there are animals to take care of.
“Rescue is our life,” she says. “We live rescue 24/7. There are no vacations.”
Lennoxs Legacy Rescue has monthly events and fundraisers. Below are some of the upcoming events, which can be found on its Facebook site.
• 3 p.m. Thursday, Farmers Market in downtown Decatur • 3 p.m. Sept. 15, open house, 4777 N. 375 E., Decatur • 3 p.m. Oct. 14, trick or treat at the barn