Helping the Animals who Help the Kids - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Helping the Animals who Help the Kids

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Michele Allison has been a horse lover her entire life.

And today, like any other Wednesday, she is tending to her horses and ponies, trying to keep them safe during the cold.

But these aren't just any animals she is looking after.

"We are an alternative outlet for children that are currently in counseling for abuse or some sort of emotional trauma," says Allison.

In 2010, Allison got an idea.

She wanted to create a place where horses could help kids heal from physical and emotional scars. 

She created a charity called Juan Diez Rancheros, and placed it at the old Fejervary Park.

Since she start, her and her small herd have been helping hundreds of kids every year.

"Horses have something that scientists have discovered and they call it a mirror neutron," Allison explains. "It's that element that allows them to mirror each other in a herd. So they function as a unit when that attacked by a predator."

All of Allison's animals have been rescues from abusive situations, some inches from death when she found them. 

So, that mirror neutron helps the horses and ponies identify with kids who have been abused.

And help them heal.

"It's tremendously rewarding," says Allison with a big smile. "I'm continually amazed by the effectiveness of it and the resilience of the children and their ability to bounce back and find something they can really use to get well."

But Allison's job isn't easy in the winter months, even with the ranch being closed. 

Many of the animals need extra care to make sure they can provide help, when the weather gets warmer. 

One of Allison's biggest concerns is keeping the animals warm when temperatures drop.

Keeping all of them fed and hydrated helps, but sometimes, there is more that has to be done. 

"If there is snow that has gotten on them and it turns to ice, we chip that off so the body temperature can continue to get that water off and have that fluffiness that is their true source of warmth."

But she says all of the work is worth it, especially with temps hitting record lows.