ROBINSON, Texas — A local nonprofit dedicated to helping farm animals find sanctuary after being neglected and abused is leaning on the community to help out one of its horses.
Stephanie Brown is a volunteer at The Bridge Sanctuary. To her, Atticus is more than just a horse.
“As soon as I met him, it was like I had this immediate connection with him,” Brown said.
Since June, Brown has been volunteering at the Bridge Sanctuary, a safe place for abandoned horses and other farm animals to call home.
“I contacted them right away and I just instantly made a connection with them," she said.
It was here where Brown met Atticus, a retired racehorse who was full of life and energy.
"He is the biggest, goofiest boy," she said.
Brown believes he has helped her in more ways than one.
"We all kind of experienced some level of depression, and you know, he just pulled me. He gave me joy, he gave me something to look forward to," she said. "With everything happening, it's just it helps me. I love helping them."
Now, Brown wants to help return the favor.
"He was used. Humans used him and tossed him away," said Margaret Ransom, founder of The Bridge Sanctuary.
Atticus was injured before coming to the sanctuary, suffering from a stifler injury. The only way to fix it is through surgery.
"People think that he is fine, he is not fine. He needs it desperately," Ransom explained.
After just a few months of calling the Bridge home, Atticus has finally gained enough weight to go under anesthesia safely.
“A stifle injury for a horse is like a knee injury for a human,” Brown explained.
Brown knows firsthand how it feels, as she has arthritis in both of her knees.
"I understand that pain, and I understand that having the desire to want to do things that my body isn't necessarily able to do without a significant amount of pain," she said. "And knowing that he is going through the same thing, I had to do what I could do to help him to be able to move like a young horse again."
In order to help Atticus get the help that he needs, Brown is working towards raising money for his surgery.
"There is no reason that he can't be sound, to be able to move and run and play like a 5-year-old horse should be able to, and I just want that for him because I just love him," she said.
For Brown, she believes helping Atticus and the other animals at the sanctuary is what she was meant to do all along.
"I think God was smiling down on me. He knew what I needed, and He saw what Waco needed and He saw what this area needed," she said. "And all of the pieces just fell together."
You can follow the journey of the Bridge animals on Facebook.