Valdosta Daily Times

March 18, 2013

Veteran becomes a horse rescuer

Caitlin Barker
The Valdosta Daily Times

ADEL — “I’ve always had animals. I grew up on a farm with them,” South Georgia Horse Rescue owner Wayne Barette said.

Residing in Valdosta with his wife, Christi, Wayne is the creator and manager of the South Georgia Horse Rescue, located off of Bethany Drive on Hall Road.

He began the organization out of the kindness of his heart, to give horses back their beauty, freedom and above all, a chance at survival.

Born and raised on a farm in Mahopac, N.Y., located upstate across from West Point, Wayne grew up around various animals, developing a strong passion for all of God’s creatures.

“My father had all kinds of animals. We owned a dairy farm,” Barette said.

Wayne resided on the farm until he turned 18 years old. He then made the decision to dedicate his life to the Armed Forces, serving from 1966 to 1992.

“I spent 26 years in the service. Ten in the Marine Corps and 16 in the Army,” Barette said. “I traveled all of over the world.”

When Barette retired, he wanted to become reacquainted with his roots and retire on a farm. He relocated to South Georgia in 1992, living in Coffee County for 12 years, eventually making his way to Valdosta in 2004.

“I wanted to be back on the farm,” Barette said. “I came south because the price of the land was cheaper.”

Barette’s sole purpose behind South Georgia Horse Rescue is to provide an environment where neglected and malnourished horses can be brought back to health.

“I take over when people can’t afford to keep the horses,” Barette said. “Before, I was just helping out in the winter, when the grass was gone, until spring time.”

Since his dream to start rescuing horses became a reality, Wayne has been a witness to many heart-wrenching situations. Last year, he was called out by the county to collect animals from four separate cases, which eventually made their way to the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

 “I help them when they’ve been neglected,” Barette said. “I’ve dealt with a couple (cases) this year.”

The reality of most animal-cruelty cases in the United States today are usually overlooked and ignored. Most suffering amongst animals continues going unrecognized and unpunished.

Statistics show animal cruelty to be more common in rural and urban areas, with ample amounts of farmland, like Georgia.

Since the South Georgia Horse Rescue began last year, Wayne has acquired six Arabian horses, ranging from 10 months old to 5 years old.

The horses were taken from their breeder and passed down to Barette, due to neglect and signs of starvation. The breeder quit supplying the animals food, due to financial circumstances.

“When they came to me, you could squeeze your hands in on both sides of them,” Barette said. “I didn’t believe a horse could be so skinny. On a scale of one to five, they were a one.”

When the horses were put into Barette’s custody, he worked cautiously with the animals so they would become familiar with him and the land.

“The Arabians were never touched by a human,” Barette said. “When they came to me, they fled. I tamed them by petting on them and brushing them.”

Wayne currently has four of the six Arabian horses at the South Georgia Horse Rescue, the other two are at a nearby location. He also provides care for six miniature horses and two Clydesdales, Kelly and Lily, which are his babies.

The horses are available for adoption, $75 for the youngest and $125 for the older two.

Barette is beyond thankful to be able to supply these animals with the love and care that they deserve. However, receiving a helping hand from others to provide for these graceful creatures is always appreciated.

“No donation will be turned away. Every little bit helps,” Barette said.

Wayne currently leases the land for the South Georgia Horse Rescue and hopes to keep his organization running strong with a little help from the community.

“If I had the property, I’d take them all, dogs and all. The county wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore,” Barette said.

In addition to his day-to-day position as a horse-rescue advocate, Barette feels blessed to have a family just as passionate.

“I have 11 grandchildren, three girls and three stepsons,” Barette said. “They want to be out here all the time.”

Wayne Barette can be reached at (229) 247-9533, or through his e-mail, christiwayne04@yahoo.com. He also runs a Facebook page, giving the community a closer look into his life as a horse rescuer.