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Loving Lookback | Tractor Supply Co.

Tractor Supply’s Rescue Your Rescue contest returns in September. Watch for details at and and be sure to nominate your favorite rescue.

See how your votes in Tractor Supply’s ‘Rescue Your Rescue’ contest last year made a difference 

By Jodi Helmer



You love your animal rescue organizations and we do, too.

When Tractor Supply announced the “Rescue Your Rescue” contest last year, asking customers to nominate their favorite animal rescue organization, you responded with more than 1,800 nominations. And after we whittled it down to 10 finalists, you cast more than 51,000 votes.

The 10 finalists split a $25,000 prize, with the top vote-getter, Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue, winning $10,000.

We’re checking in with Heart of Phoenix and two of the other top 10 finalists to see how they benefited from the prize money and how they’re doing now.


Founder Tinia Creamer, left, and Jessie Hardesty with equine friend Milo.

Heart of Phoenix

Photography by Clayton Spangler


Volunteers at Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue were attaching trailers to their trucks and driving hundreds of miles to rescue horses from animal shelters and neglectful owners, transporting them to vet appointments and foster homes across Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.

“It was taking a toll on our personal vehicles,” says Tinia Creamer, president of the West Virginia-based rescue.

With the help of the $10,000 prize from the Rescue Your Rescue campaign, Heart of Phoenix purchased a 2005 Ford F150 FX.

For the rescue, which started in 2009 as a self-funded venture and earned nonprofit status in 2012, winning funds to purchase a rescue truck was a blessing. It’s insured with a group policy, which allows multiple volunteers to drive it, making it easier — and less expensive — to do out-of-state rescues.

“Before we won the contest, we had to hire pro haulers at a great cost to do long hauls for us,” Creamer explains.

Heart of Phoenix has up to 25 horses awaiting adoption in nine foster homes in the tri-state area. More than half were seized by law enforcement in animal cruelty cases while others were surrendered by their owners or purchased through online sales; all were in dire condition when they were rescued.

After purchasing the truck, Heart of Phoenix still had the funds to save an emaciated Tennessee Walking Horse, which the organization rehabilitated, changed its name to “Schmidtty,” in honor of Tractor Supply’s founder, C.E. Schmidt, and placed into a loving home.

“We were able to put the money to good use right away,” Creamer says. “It’s still so amazing to me that we won.”

For more information about Heart of Phoenix, visit

Founder Courtney Bellew, left, and Andrea Ramos.

Snarr Ne

Photography by Greg Raymond



Courtney Bellew didn’t know much about special-needs dogs when she decided to foster a deaf pit bull in 2011.

“We went into the shelter looking for a senior dog but we saw him, fell in love, and wanted to help,” she recalls.

The experience unleashed a passion for special-needs animals. “I was volunteering for the other chapter of SNARR in Louisiana and just saw the incredible need locally. I had found my passion and wanted to do more to help in my own area,” Bellew says.

She founded SNARR NE and adopted Frankie, the deaf pit bull that inspired the rescue.

New York-based SNARR NE rescues dogs that are blind, deaf, or have serious medical conditions such as broken legs, spinal abnormalities, or fluid in their brains — dogs that other shelters don’t have the funds to treat.

When a special-needs dog is admitted to a shelter, Bellew, the rescue’s director, often gets called in to help. Sometimes, the calls are from shelters hundreds, or thousands, of miles away; the rescue arranges to save the dogs and transport them to New York for treatment.

“There is a tremendous need for rescues to help special-needs animals,” she says.

Providing life-saving surgeries and covering the costs of ongoing medical care, including wheelchairs or hydrotherapy, comes at a cost. As a result, SNARR NE, which was founded in 2012, has astronomical vet bills. The $3,500 grant from the Rescue Your Rescue contest went directly to medical costs for the dogs.

“We were thrilled to win,” Bellew says. “It was a sizable donation that allows us to cover the cost of major surgery.”

Visit SNARR NE at

Jolene Heath and some of her rescues.

Heath's Haven

Photography by Mike McCall



Jolene Heath started rescuing special-needs dogs in 2010. As word spread that her rescue, Heath’s Haven, was rehabilitating dogs with orthopedic, neurologic, and mobility issues, Heath started receiving more and more calls about dogs in need.

“We were getting calls every day asking us to take dogs, and we had to turn them down because we didn’t have the space,” she recalls.

The rescue can have up to 25 dogs in its care. While several dogs live in foster homes while receiving treatments, such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy or learning to walk with a wheelchair, Heath also looks after dogs in her home.

“The dogs might be disabled but they can live happy, healthy, pain-free lives,” she says. “We shouldn’t give up on them.”

When Heath entered the Rescue Your Rescue contest, the rescue was in the process of purchasing a 6.5-acre plot of land in Athol, Idaho, to increase intake and give the dogs more room to interact. The $800 grant helped make the dream of a larger facility a reality.

“We’re a very small rescue and the donation made a huge difference to us,” says Heath. “We like having our dogs in a pack environment and the new property will give us more space to have them outside, playing together.”

Participating in the contest had an unexpected benefit.

“We saw a lot more traffic on our website,” Heath says. “It brought a lot of attention to the work we’re doing and raised our profile in the community.”

For more information about Heath’s Haven, visit

Fall 2015 Out Here Magazine Home Page