Charity for kids with disabilities hit by thieves

January 29, 2010 9:05:29 PM PST
A local charity that uses animals to help special needs children finds itself in a crisis of its own. The charity was targeted by thieves, not once, but twice in less than two weeks. If you drove by the piece of land along Clay Road in northwest Harris County, you'd never realize the kind of special things that go one inside the gates.

"This is a miracle blessing place for them," said Jose Perez, father of an autistic child.

The Special Cheers Ranch uses horse, dogs, goats and bunnies to help children with disabilities and developmental challenges.

Carlos Perez has autism and started coming to Special Cheers three years ago.

"He loves to come here," said his father.

Since Carlos started to ride the horses at the ranch, his father has seen a dramatic change in his son.

"He's making a lot of progress here because the therapy with the horses, it's a lot of benefit for them," said Perez.

Because of the good work going on there, the ranch operators and visitors wonder why thieves would break in twice and steal badly needed equipment.

"They violated our property, drugged our dogs and broke into our barn and stole all of our western tack and bridles and saddles," said Fritzi Glover Strowmatt, president of Special Cheers.

"That's pretty sad," said Perez. "I don't know how they can do that because this is a place for disabled persons."

Twice in the past two weeks, thieves broke into the ranch and stole thousands of dollars in landscaping equipment along with six western saddles and bridles used for the trail rides. Special Cheers runs on donations and will now have to find money to replace their stolen property.

"Everything that they took from us will have to be replaced as soon as we're able to afford to replace it," said Strowmatt.

The ranch operators feel the thieves did something far worse than just steal property.

"It hurts them to not understand why mankind is so cruel," said Strowmatt. "This is their place of safety. They should feel safe."

Special Cheers started up in October of 2002. To learn more about the organization, visit the Special Cheers website.