Volunteers and donors help support over 1,000 hurricane-impacted animals

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael tore through North Florida, devastating all those who lived in several Florida counties west of Leon and Jefferson County.
While relief poured in through various humanitarian groups, the National Guard and other disaster relief organizations, the interests of animals seemed almost forgotten.
That is where Rainbows Edge (of Jefferson County) stepped up and took responsibility.
Rallying volunteers and donations from all around the State of Florida, as well as many states north of Florida, Rainbows Edge managed to collect, and transport truckload after truckload of hay, animal feed, bottled water and more.
Their venture started in October 2018 and the final truckload finally transported its last load of relief in January 2019.
Towards the end of 2018, Rainbows Edge, a nonprofit organization that helps rehabilitate and re-home abused, neglected, or surrendered horses, moved from their Jefferson County location to a private farm in Leon County.
Despite this, Rainbows Edge Director Roxanne Spear reached out to the strong community that had developed in Jefferson County around her organization and thanked them for the unwavering aid given during Rainbows Edge's relief operations for Hurricane Michael victims.
“We are grateful beyond belief for all the support from the residents of Jefferson County that came and helped [with] unloading and loading donations,” wrote Spear. “Every time we put out a call for help, people were there always with a smile and [they] thanked us for letting them be a part of helping those affected by the hurricane. The residents and community of Jefferson County is the most humane county we have ever experienced. Thank you for letting us be a part of your community.”
Rainbows Edge extended a special thank you to UF/IFAS Extension Office Agent Danielle Sprague for her assistance in the management of the Jefferson County Extension Office's rodeo area as a staging area for the organization's disaster relief.
From that staging area, two semi-trailers and 20-foot box truck were kept on scene between October 2018-January 2019 so the volunteers could load and transport donated supplies.
The rodeo staging area also became a transitory home for six horses whose owners were victims of Hurricane Michael and needed the horses to stay in temporary housing before bringing them back home.
“We're still not done,” continues Spear, with the never-ending energy that her organization runs on.
Roxanne Spear, Rainbows Edge, and their dedicated crew of volunteers will continue to send needed supplies over to Hurricane Michael victims, though Spear does admit that the need has died down some, and the intensity of their supply runs have also decreased.
“It's mostly cat and dog stuff now,” she says.
During the peak of the Rainbows Edge's supplies drives, they had various pop-up staging zones in the hurricane-torn counties, they passed out dog, cat and livestock feed, while first aid supplies and water were provided for human victims.
Donated leashes, halters, lead ropes, horse blankets, animal treats, buckets, troughs and animal treats for passed out, free of charge, to those impacted by the October 2018 hurricane.
“These donations were all made possible by those that follow us and all those we network within our disaster recovery efforts and trust in us to get the donations to those in need,” wrote Spear. “Thank you for everything.”
In total, the final count of animals aided by the volunteer efforts and donations of Jefferson County and North Florida citizens rose in the hundreds.
In Jackson County, 113 horses, nine cows, 150 dogs, 49 cats, eight pigs, 35 goats, and nine donkeys were aided.
In Washington County, 41 horses, 13 dogs, eight cats, and 12 goats were aided.
In Bay County, 367 horses, 94 dogs, 66 cats, 10 donkeys, 15 pigs, 154 goats, 14 sheep, 10 chickens, and one duck were aided.
In Calhoun County, 130 horses, 27 dogs, 23 cats, two pigs, and 32 goats were aided.
In Liberty County, one horse was aided.
In Holmes County, 120 dogs and 11 cats were aided.
None of this would have been possible without Rainbows Edge's tireless efforts, the contribution of donations that continued to pour in long past the time when Hurricane Michael was making headlines and the selfless volunteers who gave their time, vehicles and gas for the transportation of supplies to those whose lives will be forever changed by 2018's Hurricane Michael.