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Inspirational Rescue! Hillcrest Farms Equine Rescue & Sanctuary

December 22, 2021 4 min read

pictured above: Sassy the Quarter Horse rescue welcomes rescue dogs Kimber and Sig to their new forever home at Hillcrest Farms

Happy Holidays!

We figured there is no better time than the season of giving to kick off our new Inspirational Rescue series! Each month, we will be sharing photos and stories from horse & dog rescues that are doing amazing work. We hope you will consider supporting these organizations. Spreading the word, raising awareness, and donating funds and goods are all ways you can help!

Hillcrest Farms Equine & Donkey Sanctuary


When Billie Athanas moved to the 115 acre Hillcrest Farms in Southwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter in 2016, she knew she wanted to rescue a draft horse. It wasn't long before a draft horse was listed on a kill lot page and she knew she had to save him. So she did, along with three others! She named him Chance.

Soon after Chance and his friends were rescued, Billie came across two sad, pregnant donkeys on an auction lot that badly needed care. The two lonely mama donkeys were welcomed to the farm, and blossomed with love and care. That sealed the deal! Billie and her family decided that the farm had to be used to help amazing animals by providing a second chance at life, love and happiness.

Today, Hillcrest Farms Rescue & Sanctuary is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and safe sanctuary of abused, neglected or otherwise unwanted donkeys and horses, both minis and biggies. Hillcrest also provides a safe haven for owners to surrender their donkeys in the event they are no longer able to care for them.

We asked founder Billie Athanas why she is inspired to do this work. She said, "I have this quote on my email signature. I’ve always let it guide me. But, it’s a little long, so I always say this. When people ask me why we do what we do I just say that they always save me right back. No matter what my day throws at me, I have a farm full of animals just happy I came home. And that’s always worth it."

Meet Harry the Mammoth Donkey

Yay! It's treat time at Hillcrest Farms Equine Rescue & Sanctuary!

The care they need, the love they deserve

Hillcrest is different from other rescue organizations in that they provide forever homes for the animals they take in, and do not adopt them out after rehab. This ensures that the animals will be loved, cared for and protected for the rest of their lives, and never end up in a kill lot or auction again.

Currently Hillcrest Farms cares for over 60 rescued equines and donkeys, ranging from mini donkeys to draft horses. They also have other rescued animals - 3 cows, 15 cats and 7 dogs - in addition to the many chickens, goats and other animals that live on the farm.

Each and every rescued animal is named as soon as they arrive at the sanctuary. Naming the animals is an important milestone, and Billie remembers every name and the reason behind the choice!

It takes a village...

At Hillcrest Farms, everyone works as a team to keep every animal safe and healthy.The farm houses two larger barns with several fields fenced in, one large field designated for the mini donkeys and mini horses with their own small barn and shelters.

Every year the rescue animals at Hillcrest go through about 150 round bales and several hundred square bales of hay. Your donations help keep that hay coming!

Billie is working to build a quarantine barn, and an additional building to grow fodder. There is also a large hay field on Hillcrest that is being conditioned to also supplement hay needs.

Coat Defense helps heal & protect

Hillcrest Farms turns to Coat Defense regularly to heal their rescues and keep all the animals healthy. When the animals have their feet trimmed, they get powdered. If they have any weird spots, they get paste. When it has been rainy or nasty, the animals get powdered more often to prevent rain rot, fungus and other funk.

Billie enjoys walking the fields with peppermints, and whoever walks up will get a sprinkle of Coat Defense. Any animals who are having issues get powdered daily until they see improvement.

Harry the Mammoth Donkey was a recent addition to the Hillcrest Farms rescue family who benefitted from Coat Defense. When he arrived, his skin and coat were in terrible shape, with patches and irritation everywhere. Billie started him on Coat Defense right away, and could soon see improvement. With a little time, his coat grew back beautifully and Harry is now a big, healthy, silly guy!


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Gratitude in the season of giving

Here at Coat Defense we are grateful for the opportunity to help support organizations like Hillcrest Farms and people like Billie Athanas and her family.

The quote that guides Billie in her rescue efforts:

“Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Holidays!

Please Support Hillcrest Farms Equine Rescue & Sanctuary!

Help Hillcrest Farms continue to rescue and care for animals in need!! Hillcrest is a 501c3 organization, so donations are tax deductible.

100% of the contributions go toward the cost of care for the sanctuary's residents - feeding, veterinary care, farrier costs, and more.

Don't forget to follow Hillcrest on Facebook & Instagram

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