FRANKTOWN, Colo. — At one time, Jacqui Avis' horse, Pistol Annie, didn't have much of a chance. Then she met Avis and her big heart.
"I saved her before I started the rescue, but she was an incentive for what type of horses we wanted to save," Avis said.
Like all the horses at Drifter's Hearts of Hope in Franktown, Pistol Annie was rescued from a kill pen, and is part of the "soul" behind the horse rescue.
"To pick one out of 30 … it’s like playing God," described Avis.
The organization works with kids with special needs to help rehabilitate and find new homes for horses who otherwise wouldn't have a chance.
"I want to say about 80-to-85 percent of that meat is sent to Europe for human consumption. And about 180,000 American horses get shipped to Mexico and Canada every year for slaughter," Avis said.
Avis is working to change that.
"I think she’s a hero because what she does takes guts," said Hailey Nye, who volunteers for the rescue.
In five years since its inception, Drifter's Hearts of Hope and its team of volunteers have saved more than 400 horses. They give them vet care, training and a whole new and loving life.
"She’s got a heart of gold for sure," said volunteer Rachelle Nye of Avis.
Avis admits the work can be tiring and gut-wrenching.
"It’s pretty heartbreaking," Avis said. "We have some fabulous success stories. But even the ones who don’t make it are still maybe success stories."
Just like with Pistol Annie, every minute of the work is worth it.
"I’m thankful that this is here and that she saves horses. We wouldn’t have our horses if it weren’t for Jacqui," said volunteer Claire Nye.
For more information on Drifter's Hearts of Hope, or if you're interested in adopting a horse from the organization, visit: http://www.driftersheartsofhope.org/
Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here . To nominate a hero in your life, click here .