When Jesus and Linda Luna of Joliet saw the stable fire which killed 18 horses in Plainfield on the news, as fellow lovers of horses, they wanted to do something.
Jesus and Linda wanted to reach out and help the horse owners who were affected by the fire last week. They were looking to donate bags of hay and food or help anyway they can.
“It's heartbreaking,” Linda said. “You get so attached to [the horses].”
The Lunas got in touch with Lori Padilla, the owner of a horse at the stable which survived. Padilla, her boyfriend, who also owned a horse, and two cousins happened to be driving by the stable when it was on fire early Wednesday morning. They stopped, called 911 and managed to save 12 of the 30 horses at the stable.
“They were amazed that we had what it takes to go in a burning barn,” Padilla said. “I feel so grateful for her that she had that thought.”
Jesus knows what its like to care for horses. He grew up around horses on a ranch in Guanajuato, Mexico, and when he moved to Joliet more than 30 years ago, he continued to raise horses. He has four on a ranch in Joliet.
“The horses, for me, are part of my life and part of my family,” Jesus said.
The Luna's grandchildren have also taken a liking to horses. Linda said the entire family goes to great lengths to take care of them, feed them and clean them. Linda also feels that the horses have become like members of the family, so when they lose one, it hits hard.
“They know what it's like to lose a horse,” Linda said.
Two of her grandchildren have lost a horse. It was devastating for them, she said, so the family knows what the other owners are going through. Both horses were injured and needed to be put down.
“My husband has a love for such animals, so he just wants to help these people out,” Linda said.
Padilla's and her boyfriend's horses were relocated to New Lenox. They're traumatized, she said.
Alison Powers, a veterinarian with Premier Equine Ambulatory Veterinary Service in Lemont, who was on the scene treating the horses Wednesday, said she would be monitoring the horses for any signs of stress, panic, swelling or trouble breathing after such an event. She also suggests helping them get back to some form of normalcy.
"Establishing a routine for them is going to be one of the biggest things that helps for any animal," Powers said.
Powers said after the fire, some of the horses had minor cuts and bruises. One needed to be sedated but otherwise was not badly injured.