BEND, OR -- A Bend-based horse rescue nonprofit has been saved from closure. Equine Outreach Board President Bill Inman says a group of other organizations offered to help after word got out last month that an investigation by the Department of Justice had left coffers depleted. "Thankfully, someone stepped forward and said, ‘I’ve got lots of property and you can use a nice big chunk of it – about 30 acres. But, you’ll need to be responsible for setting it up.’ And, these other nonprofits said, ‘We’ll help you get it set up.’ So that’s what we’ve been doing."
Following a lengthy investigation into the co-founders of Equine Outreach and their management of the nonprofit's funds, the DOJ required all ties be severed with Joan Steelhammer and Gary Everett, which included moving dozens of rescued horses off property owned by the couple. Inman says Steelhammer and Everett are now refusing to allow Equine Outreach access to anything other than the horses. "Things that were either purchased by Equine Outreach using donor funds or that were donated as in-kind donations that belong to the nonprofit and because of the challenges with the landlord they’re tied up in a lien. The horses cannot be liened, so technically the horses we can take, but we can’t take the stuff." He tells KBND News, "We have about 50 tons of hay that have been donated since cuttings this summer from the local community that we need to get through winter feeding. So, if we’re unable to take the hay that’s been donated then we need to replace it." He's hopeful more donations will come in to help get the animals through winter at the new location.
Inman says many of the rescued horses have found new homes, but about 35 remain. He hopes to start moving them to the new property just outside Bend, this weekend. "It will be a big logistical challenge to get all the horses moved, and then obviously all of the infrastructure set up."