A horse’s Harvey homecoming

Published 9:08 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

By Colleen Harrison

One Port Arthur couple thought they might never see their horse again after the rising flood waters of Tropical Storm Harvey made them part ways with their beloved pet.
A month after Harvey ravaged the area, Gaither and Donna Beard have come home after evacuating to Dallas, and so has their 5-year-old American quarter horse, Billy Jack.
The couple said it broke their hearts when they realized they wouldn’t be able to leave with Billy Jack last month when the chest-deep floodwater surrounded their Port Acres home. Gaither said they were frantically trying to find a way to get Billy Jack to higher ground during the storm, all while trying to calm the horse down after helicopters rescuing stranded neighbors spooked him. Luckily, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was able to bring a trailer to take Bill Jack to another location, right around the same time a boat came to rescue the Beards and their two dogs.
From there, the Beards went to Dallas, where they stayed for about nine days before making their way back home. In the meantime, Billy Jack had been moved between a number of different locations, and the Beards were faced with the task of trying to track down their horse’s whereabouts.
Gaither said he called the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as other animal shelters and organizations, but no one reported seeing a horse matching Billy Jack’s description. Beard said he was almost at a loss.
“It was hard; I ain’t gonna lie. I was devastated,” he said. “Some nights I did cry. I’d sit on the porch and look for him.”
Beard then tried sending out pictures of the horse, and finally got some good news. The Houston SPCA helped him track down Billy Jack to Austin, and worked with the Beards to bring him home to Port Arthur.
Gaither said that as soon as he saw the trailer carrying Billy Jack around the corner at the end of the street, he felt nothing but pure joy. That was one week ago.
He said the SPCA took great care of Billy Jack, and brought 350 pounds of grain and other donated supplies with the horse to help the Beards out as the recovered in Harvey’s wake.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “Those people (the SPCA) are just awesome. They’ve done so much to bring people’s animals home. We’re so blessed and so happy he’s home.”

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