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Oh My Goodness: N.J. Nonprofit Provides Sanctuary For Forgotten Horses

MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A New Jersey nonprofit is doing everything it can to rescue neglected and senior horses, animals that are in many cases rescued from a slaughter house or from euthanasia.

For Erin Giannios, it's not labor. It's love, taking care of the horses at the Bergen County Horse Rescue.

"What's most well known is dog rescues and cat rescues and horses are sometimes forgotten about," Giannios told CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas on Monday.

Four years ago she started the Mahwah nonprofit after she saw many of the horses she was already caring for at the then-boarding facility were being abandoned.

"What happened was, people started walking away of the responsibilities of horse owners, so we were left with about seven horses," Giannios said.

Bergen County Horse Rescue
Bergen County Horse Rescue (Photo: CBS2)

She said most of them were senior horses.

"Because people can't ride them anymore," Giannios said.

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This sanctuary then started to rescue even more. One of them is 29-year-old Konrad, whose former owners could no longer care for him. However, a blast from his past helped him find refuge here, his owner from 15 years ago.

"When you're little, as horse-obsessed as I was, he really was my best friend. We had him until I went to college," Kristy Duchak said.

Because of Konrad's age, he was at risk of being euthanized. Duchak said she couldn't let that happen.

"It's hard to describe the bond you have with your horse, especially in your childhood years," Duchak said.

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In all, 23 horses call the center their home. Volunteers work daily to rehabilitate them.

"That's just so inspiring to see the transformation the horses have had from when they first come in to where they are now," said Danielle DeBenedetto, VP of Bergen County Horse Rescue.

They're either senior horses, former victims of abuse or neglect, or even rescued from slaughter houses, like one mother and her foal.

"They would have definitely gone to slaughter. I think their time was up. They were in a kill pen," volunteer Anne Barretta said.

Now, since they're so young, they're up for adoption. They are getting a second chance at life, while the older horses will remain here to live out their golden years.

The rescue center has reached its capacity, but is looking to expand by adding more fenced-in areas. If you would like to donate to the cause, please click here.

Our series Oh My Goodness highlights people doing good deeds in their community, either big or small. Do you know someone doing good or making a difference in your community? We want to know all about them! Email or send us a message on Facebook. You can also use #OMGCBS on Twitter or Instagram.

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