Monday, February 2, 2009
A Home for the Unwanted...
I have a love/hate relationship with my photo column. I hate it because, like most newspapers, we are understaffed and expected to do a lot more than we were doing four years ago. Back then we had a staff large enough to go spend a whole day on an assignment shooting it and doing interviews. Plus we had time to just go out and find something. Although, I admit I've never been too great at going out and finding a good story out of thin air, like some former co-workers I've had. On the other hand, I love the photo column when it is over. Mostly because we still get a full Life page front on Saturdays. And, normally it looks pretty good especially when you run into a good story like this one.
I found out about Sharon Hess, when I was shooting photos of Buddy Anderson a couple weeks ago. He told me how he got his horse, Mona, from Habitat for Horses, an organization that takes in abused and neglected horses seized by law enforcement. Even before I got a job in journalism, I think I've always been a journalist, which is a kind way of saying I ask a lot of questions. Even if I'm not writing a story, I'm just a naturally curious person, plus people seem to open up to me, often even times when I don't really care to know that much. However, when I'm working I'm always willing to listen. I can often pick up story ideas that way. And, it's always best when I can get photo columns out of them, since they are often a royal pain in the ass to find really good ones.
When I first talk to Sharon she was excited to get more publication about what she does. She's a pretty great person, and she and her husband and son are extremely selfless people. Often taking in abused horses who, the only thing they've done wrong are been given to the wrong owners, who don't feed them and often beat them. Some of the horses, are in such bad shape, it's amazing that of the 171 horses Hess has taken in over the last four years, she has only lost 13 of them.
Something else I find amazing is that the Hesses pay for all the feed, hay and vet bills out of their own pockets. The 25 horses and three donkeys they have right now cost them about $800 a month, and that's when they are all healthy. And Sharon told me they rarely can go on vacation or out of town because someone has to go feed the horses every day.
In talking to her I could really tell the compassion she had for these animals, and the unconditional love she showed for each one. It's really nice to see things like this at a time where economy is in the tank, there are still people that dig into their own pockets to help the helpless. Here is a link to the story which also has an audio slideshow with it, that has an interview with Sharon about what she does.