Oklahoma Animal Rescuer Hopes for New Barn After Tornado

By KRISTI EATON | October 24, 2013

An Oklahoma woman who spent years rescuing and aiding injured and neglected animals, including countless four-legged critters during a series of tornadoes in May, is now finding herself in need of a little help.

Maeghan Hadley runs 1 Day Ranch, a rescue and rehabilitation program for abused and neglected dogs and horses in Bethel Acres, near Shawnee. Because of her skills with animals, Hadley was called upon twice in May to help with animal rescue and recovering efforts following two days of storms. But Hadley also was a victim.

On May 19, her barn, which she had been counting on to use as part of a therapeutic riding program for children with autism and other developmental delays, was badly damaged and needs to be replaced. Two days later, when she was helping transport about 30 dogs found following a deadly tornado in Moore, someone crashed into her farm truck, totaling the vehicle.

“It’s been a rough couple of months between not having a trailer because I can’t use my truck, not having a truck and now not having a usable barn and still having to run the rescue, things are rough,” said the 26-year-old Hadley, who was photographed by an Associated Press photographer rescuing a kitten in May after one of the storms. “But we are hoping to turn it around.”

Hadley has raised about $7,000 through various fundraising for the estimated $30,000 it will take to build a new eight-stall barn on her farm land. Once the barn is complete, she said she’ll be able to adopt out some of the horses and work on creating and opening up to the public the therapeutic riding program. Along with the riding program, Hadley eventually hopes to become certified with her father, a psychologist, to offer equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Friend Jenny Patten called Hadley “amazing” and said she has a love for animals and children that is unmatched.

“If there is a need, she’s probably the first one there wanting to help,” said Patten, who nominated Hadley for a local TV station’s program to help people in need.

Animals have been a part of Hadley’s life since she was a child. She started riding horses at age 5 and got her first one at 13. In high school, she rescued a kitten that had been set on fire and, unbeknownst to her parents, kept it hidden in her bedroom for a few months and nursed it back to health.

Her love for four-legged critters made the death of Stormy, the kitten Hadley is seen rescuing in the AP photo following the May tornado near Bethel Acres, all the more upsetting. Following the rescue, an outpouring of love for the kitten came from all over the world, with some people even asking if the kitten could be shipped abroad.

Stormy initially seemed happy and healthy after she was bandaged up by a vet for a cut. But Hadley noticed that the tiny kitten wasn’t growing at all, despite eating plenty. She took her back to the vet, who initially didn’t suspect anything. When Stormy continued to not grow, the vet finally determined that she had a birth defect in her brain that kept her body from getting larger. The kitten was not in pain, the vet told Hadley, but it meant that one day she was simply not going to wake up.

On July 13, Stormy went to sleep after eating and playing with Hadley. The next morning she never woke up, just as the vet had predicted would happen.

Hadley feels better knowing the kitten had a good life up until her death, she said.

“She was a spoiled rotten little kitten,” she added.

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