Carol Barnes clicked through picture after picture on her desktop looking for one she could share.
Most are too disturbing to be shown, she said.
Finally, she settled on two to explain why she and several others had formed the Whidbey Island Farm Animal Assistance Program, a new organization to help care for farm animals in distress.
The mission of the organization is to provide financial assistance to care for rescued or at-risk farm animals on Whidbey Island.
Barnes is the animal control officer for Island County and her work exposes her to mistreated and neglected animals throughout the county.
“Look at those ribs,” said Barnes, with a shake of her head.
In the first photograph, a brown horse with its rib cage jutting out, the spine and the pelvis all too visible. The animal appears emaciated and malnourished.
In the second photograph, after a few weeks of care, the bones no longer stick out. The animal has put on weight.
The county lacks a program or funding to care for horses or other large animals that have have been taken away from their owners, Barnes said. Private individuals have been stepping forward to provide the assistance, she said.
But with need — and expenses to meet that need — increasing, Barnes is asking animal lovers to help shoulder some of the burden and donate to the fund. The fund helps care for farm animals when the owners are unable or unwilling to provide food and medical care.
Money is not the only way to give, she said. M-Bar-C-Ranch in Freeland has chipped in by donating hay, she said.
And while the example Barnes gave shows an extreme scenario in which the horse was removed from its home and criminal charges were brought against the owner, not every situation results in legal action.
In some scenarios, owners need temporary help with feed or veterinary care to bridge a rough patch and the animals can remain on the farm, said the organization’s President Pam Price.
The fund is able to help chip in to provide that assistance, said Price.
In other cases, the animal needs to be placed in a new home to get proper care, she said.
Price recalled one situation in which a woman’s financial situation changed and she was no longer able to adequately provide for her three horses.
The organization gave feed assistance and helped place two of the horses in a new home.
The group also helps out when a horse or pony gets loose — and becomes a traffic hazard.
The volunteers help return the animal to its owner or place it into protective custody when its owner cannot be located.
“We have an awesome foster team,” said Price. “Without the volunteers and donations, we would not be successful at providing these services.”
Beside equines, the organization has helped to place in new homes llamas, alpacas, goats, pot belly pigs, sheep and chickens — all as pets, Barnes said.
A bank account has been set up at Whidbey Island Bank to accept donations.
Checks can also be mailed to WIFAAP, PO Box 402, Coupeville, WA.