TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A horse and donkey sanctuary in Chino Valley has closed and the animals, many of them in bad shape, are now being cared for by a rescue group in Marana. Hoofprints of the Heart spent the weekend transporting 74 donkeys and 12 horses from the Hacienda de los Milagros sanctuary to the rescue site in Marana.
Back in March a former board member for HDLM claimed the man running the sanctuary was hoarding the animals. According to a release from the network of rescue groups involved in the animal transport, a new board took over HDLM in December. Due to financial issues, inadequate care, and an excessive number of animals, the new board apparently deemed the facility as a hoarding operation.
The website for Hacienda de los Milagros has a brief statement, saying the site "will have no animals as of Monday" and "then be closed." It goes on to say "the residents have all found places somewhere else."
Calls to the main number and two cell phone numbers associated with Hacienda de los Milagros have not been returned.
James Boudrieau of Hoofprints of the Heart says he has taken ownership of all the animals. About 50 animals are housed at his rescue site, with the rest of the animals in the care of other rescues in Arizona.
He says some of the animals were in really bad shape.
"They had slippered feet, hooves that curled all the way around, couldn't get up couldn't walk, it was a deplorable site," says Boudrieau.
Organizers at Hoofprints of the Heart had to expand just to accommodate all of the donkeys. About 50 of them are being treated at this facility, the rest at other rescues.
Boudrieau says it's easy to fall in love with these loud yet affectionate animals.
He says this animal sanctuary in chino valley crossed the line.
Nearly 100 donkeys and horses were taken from Hacienda de los Milagros with signs of neglect.
"Hooves that curled all the way around, couldn't get up, couldn't walk. They don't get that way overnight. It's hearwrenching."
Boudrieau says most of the horses and seven donkeys had to be put down.
Hacienda de los Milagros came under fire back in March when a former board member accused the founder of hoarding.
The board decided to surrendure the animals to rescue groups.
The Hacienda de los Milagros website says the site has no animals as of today and is now closed.
Boudrieau technically owns all of the rescued animals.
"They're like living teddy bears, for a lack of a better term."
His job now is to nurse them back to good health and find them homes.
"All we can do is pick up the pieces and move on. And that's why they're here. Their pieces are getting picked up now."
Boudrieau hopes to have all of the animals adopted out in 60 days.
That's the goal.
Several horses and at least seven donkeys had to be euthanized. Boudrieau is asking for donations to help cover the costs of feed and veterinary services. Hoofprints of the Heart can be reached at (520) 780-6900.