By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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In February 2012, the then-emaciated Arabian filly, along with two other horses and a pony, were turned over to Eyes That Smile, a Sequim-based horse rescue organization.
“She's just amazing now,” said Valerie Jackson, co-vice president of Eyes That Smile, showing off the bright-eyed, friendly mare Sunday.
Now that Cleo has filled out, it is clear that she is a well bred Arabian, Jackson said.
“Starvation as a 2- and 3-year-old set her back,” she said.
Cleo and the other three mares cared for by Eyes That Smile represent a quarter of 16 horses seized by the Clallam County Sheriff's Office from a pasture near Sequim last year, after the owner of property rented by Campbell called the Sheriff's Office, concerned about the animals' condition.
The animals were suffering from starvation and malnutrition and were estimated to be underweight by between 50 and 200 pounds each.
A veterinarian certified that their condition was caused by neglect.
Buffy Campbell, 42, and her daughter, Heather Gouldart, 20, who kept the horses in a rented pasture off Olson Road southwest of Sequim, agreed to give up custody of the horses in March 2012.
Twelve of the horses were released to the Sheriff's Office for transfer to a registered animal rescue organization, and four were returned to legal owners.
Over the last year, the four at Eyes that Smile recovered beyond the hopes of the volunteers.
When Karma, a bay pinto filly, was rescued as a yearling, she was about the size of a 5-month-old foal.
Today, Karma stands nearly 15 hands high, and Mandy, a bay mare — once skin and bones — also is well-fed and coddled by her foster caretakers.
Mindy the pony recently was adopted, and there is an adoption pending for Karma and Mandy, as well, Jackson said.
Eyes that Smile specializes in horse rescue, but it rescues other animals as the need arises, said Diane Royall, co-vice president.
In the past year, Eyes that Smile has contributed to the care of many animals, including 85 horses, 12 goats, 40 pigeons, 50-plus chickens and one llama.
Not all of them end up in the care of Eyes that Smile volunteers, Royall said.
In some cases, feed is given to owners who may be having difficulty paying for their animals' feed or they may connect an owner with someone who wants to adopt an animal, she said.
Feed, veterinarian and farrier services often are covered by donations, but Sunday, the group was down to a few bales of hay, and a trip to the feed store would be coming out of Jackson and Royall's own pockets.
It costs $500 to $700 per adoption for most horses, but for those who have received extra training or other expenses, they may ask $800, Jackson said.
The fee is nowhere near the cost of saving some of the animals, she said.
The organization recently got its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, and can offer tax receipts for donations.
Donations can be sent to Eyes that Smile, P.O. Box 252, Sequim, WA, 98382.
More information on the organization, and adoptable horses and other animals, can be found at www.tinyurl.com/at9wrkw.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.