Photos: Animals at The Rescue Barn are receiving ongoing care, shelter and nutrition, thanks to Lynne and David Jennings of K-9 Airlift, Inc.This Belgian horse named Cassie is enjoying a homemade horse biscuit as Nanny McPhee looks on. A lop eared rabbit named Bunuela is now a picture of health. Photos by Trilla Cook
All creatures great and small are embraced at The Rescue Barn in Huffman, where love and kindness abide. Just ask three horses named Dakota, Lena and Cassie; Oreo the Boer goat; little Nanny McPhee; 13 chickens including three Chinese Silkies; a somber burro; rabbits; feral cats and many more.
The Rescue Barn is an extension of K-9 Airlift Inc., a nonprofit rescue service that was created by Lynne and David Jennings in 2008. In the beginning, K-9 Airlift blossomed into the rehabilitation and housing of rescued dogs, cats and farm animals, until forever homes could be found whenever possible. While all the rescued animals were near death when acquired, they were nurtured, treated, nourished, fostered and loved back to wellness, all in the loving care of the Jennings.
When the couple acquired the property three years ago, a caring volunteer aptly named it The Rescue Barn. The ability to rescue and rehabilitate larger animals and various other farm critters then became a reality.
Their love of animals has consumed the couple as they navigate through their retirement years, and as one can imagine, the acts of kindness shown by the Jennings to all their beloved animals come at great expense. When they first purchased the property and barn, there was no one living in the 100-year-old farm house. This meant that when Lynne went home each day there was no one to look after the property in her absence, leaving opportunities for malicious mischief.
She explained that one day someone purposely opened up all the gates and let the animals out. Sadly, on that same occasion all the rabbits were brutally slain. Now that there is a tenant living in the farm house, the Jennings can rest easier knowing their beloved animals are safer and not alone.
“All the horses were let out – all gates opened and the rabbits slaughtered. We’re thankful to have a tenant now,” Lynne said.
The animals and their caretakers depend on the kind hearts and generosity of various members of the community. Holy Comforter Lutheran Church, the oldest church in Kingwood, has adopted The Rescue Barn as a mission. One project included making sure all the nesting boxes were perfect for the chickens to lay their eggs.
According to Michele Dykstra, the church's Confirmation Club prepared homemade biscuits, which are a yummy and nutritious treat and loved by the horses, burro and goats.
“Mostly sixth-graders hand grated carrots and apples to combine with oats and molasses to make this yummy and nutritious treat,” said Dykstra. “Last year we participated in ‘God's Work Our Hands’ ELCA National Day of Service. We worked in advance with The Rescue Barn to generate a list of chores, activities and needs.”
According to Dykstra, The Rescue Barn is currently one of the charitable holiday recipients offered on the church’s Angel Tree, and she and her son plan to gift rabbit feed to help out the bunnies. In donation, checks marked “Rescue Barn” on the memo line at HCLC will go toward helping the animals.
“Our work at The Rescue Barn is another way of being God’s hands and feet in the world, said Pastor Barb Bartling, senior pastor at the church. “It’s a blessing to serve God’s creation.”
Getting discounts for shots, neutering and other medical services from local veterinarians like Dr. Heather Madigan at Atascazoo Animal Hospital and Dr. Virginia Hajovsky at Lake Houston Animal Care are also a tremendous help, according to Lynne. She is also grateful to Atascocita Petco manager Karen Patti and Spring Petco assistant manager Tonja Graeber.
“They always keep us in mind,” Lynne said, as she read a text that they were holding some scoopers for her. “Petco holds pet adoption days where the cats and dogs can get adopted, once they have been rehabilitated,” she explained.
Taking care of all the animals in their charge, at home and at the barn, and flying rescue missions with K-9 Airlift, is a lot of responsibility, but it doesn’t end there. The Jenningses also host pets, whenever necessary, of clients of the Humble Women’s Shelter, after the 30-day period that the SPCA allows. This way, having their pets in a safe environment does not become a reason for battered women to stay in an unsafe situation.
Another program that finds help for animals at The Rescue Barn is The EarlyAct First Knights Program sponsored by the Kingwood Rotary. The two geldings and a miniature horse find a safe haven whenever they come to town for this modern-day character education program for students that is based on the qualities of medieval knights.
According to Lynne, they have been approached about assisting with military war dogs returning home from Afghanistan, and she is looking forward to more information. She was a federal liaison between the HPD Bomb Dog unit at IAH and at Lachlan Air force Base in San Antonio.
With eyes glistening with tears, Lynne related the stories of all the animals in her care, such as Dakota, with the race horse name of Dream Coin, a direct descendant of Secretariat, who was unwanted due to an injury – she was neglected and waiting to die. Or Cassie, the big, beautiful Belgian horse that was also starving to death, as well as Lena, the quarter horse, with an ongoing, permanent hoof condition that requires constant care. The three Chinese Silkie chickens were unrecognizable when rescued from a pound in Baytown, and now are happily laying eggs.
Every animal has a story of abuse and neglect, including Thumper and several other rabbits that were all starving. All the feral cats have been spayed and neutered and can now rely on food and shelter at the barn. In the chicken coop are chickens of all different breeds, including one old rooster – all rescued from starvation.
A burro named Nemmy, short for Nemesis, is an important part of this menagerie.
“Nemmy is the barnyard protector and helps keep predators away from the goats,” said Lynne. “Otherwise, the coyotes would come after them.”
The Jenningses are striving to make the barn and property self-sustaining as much as possible by planting a small orchard and by creating a composting area. They get a lot of their supplies from Cachere Feed Store in Dayton, which allows donations to be made to the K-9 Airlift account for The Rescue Barn. They depend on the Houston Rescue Bank for salvaged dog and cat food, sometimes rabbit food.
All improvements to the barn and property are made using recycled and salvaged materials. The Jenningses would like to add a few big improvement projects on sight. There is a great need for a safe, dry and secure area to store grain and other animal feed. They have the space but need materials and manpower to renovate it. Lynne said that they also plan to build a “loafing shed” outside for a place to protect animals and story hay, etc. Also, a cattle guard is needed to keep the larger animals from going into the road.
One way to help is to make an arrangement to adopt one of the animals by providing food and meds for a week, a month, etc. Another way is to donate materials and or labor for their projects. Volunteering on a regular basis might include cleaning out the barn and other farmhand chores.
For more information on donating and/or volunteering, call Lynn Jennings at K-9 Airlift Inc., 281-324-6326 or 713-854-9080.