Abbotsford horse counselling group seeking to rebuild after fire

Shamrock Counselling reports all horses and humans safe after fire destroyed their barn housing horses

A unique counselling services organization is hoping to recover after a fire destroyed a barn that housed horses used for the counselling practice.

Shamrock Counselling Services runs mental health counselling services with the help of Cristina Rennie’s four-legged “fur babies.” But the Rennie posted on Facebook that Thursday was a “very difficult day for my family and myself.”

“The barn on my parents property burnt to the ground,” Rennie said in the post, which was shared by Shamrock Counselling’s own Facebook page.

“Luckily a few neighbors woke my parents just in time to save the horses. … I would not have been consolable if anyone was hurt. Everyone stayed throughout the night while the fire department worked to put out the fire and held my fur babies so that they would be ok.”

Rennie wrote that all the animals and humans were OK following the fire, though her mother was “burned a bit in the process but doesn’t need medical care.”

“I had a breakdown thinking about the possibility of (losing) my family or my horses. I believe we are still in shock and it is hard to express emotionally what we are all going through.”

The 50-year-old barn had “survived many years until yesterday,” Rennie wrote. She added that the barn housed not only her Shamrock Counselling practice, but her non-profit Sundance Solace Society, which offers free access to mental health services with horses for those with limited financial resources.

“The horses help people as young as 3 years old and all the way up with emotional and mental health. Our non profit works to give free mental health to our community and our last project was with Peardonville Treatment Center here in Abbotsford,” Rennie said.

“We pulled funding to do a 12 week group for the women at the center. We have also worked with Hospice, local ministries, youth probation, schools, Crime Victim Services, just to name a few.”

She said it will “take a while to rebuild,” with all equipment for counselling and horse care in the barn, but added that she was confident the family would build the barn and its services up again.

The family is seeking donations to help rebuild, and information on how to support the group can be found in Rennie’s Facebook post.

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