If Dr. Doolittle was right and animals could talk, we might hear, “Nobody wanted us, but we belong here at Misfit Farm.”
An assortment of horses, dogs and cats are lovingly cared for at the North River Road farm of Renee Cyr and her husband, Jim, along with Renee's friends Debbie Perry of Lewiston and Linda Hill of Auburn, who volunteer their time.
They care for Cleo, a dog with terminal cancer; Buddy, a dog who was mauled by another animal and arrived in desperate shape with a broken jaw; Ovelina, an 8-year-old cat who was stuck in the farm’s mail box and fostered a litter of kittens.
There's Tawny, a Paso Fino horse who suffers from Lyme disease; Bliss, the beautiful blonde flat-footed Palomino suffering from malnutrition and neglect; and a miniature horse with her odd-couple friend, Tiny, a Belgian draft horse blind in one eye with skin worn off by a harness that was too tight. Other horses at the farm suffer from ulcers, a clubfoot and a disease that causes the horse to become bloated.
Cyr, Perry and Hill are the tag team of care.
“We began networking for the love of animals,” Hill said. “It’s just fulfilling my dream. It’s equine therapy, and I get my physical therapy walking the horses.”
“We do it for the love of the animals," Perry added.
Cyr works at the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society, where Hill volunteers, and Perry comes to the farm weekly to help and ride with her friends.
Caring for the animals is expensive, Hill said. “An average vet bill can be as much as $500 for one visit to a horse.”
Cyr said Maine Equine Welfare Alliance can supply assistance on an emergency basis. Some of their friends lease a horse, paying for the care and feeding, while the animals are at the farm.
“It’s not your typical stable," Cyr said. She and her friends do most of the work of caring for the animals.
The horses are treated to peppermints, acknowledging the arrival of the crinkling candy wrappers with warm, velvet-nosed nudges. Life is good as a misfit.
People are invited — even encouraged — to visit the animals. “We love people to love them!” Cyr said.