Horses stranded by B.C. floods taken care of at sanctuary run by cancer survivor

Just off of Highway One in Chilliwack, B.C., is a building that’s been transformed into a sanctuary for horses stranded by the recent devastating flooding.

It’s the work of a man who is used to tenacity despite the odds.

“I’d rather be here with the horses,” Rob Kenney told CTV News. “They’re stressed out just like everyone else in this world, especially here in B.C.”

Kenney is no stranger to stress. Six years ago, he got a devastating diagnosis.

“Turns out that I was stage 4 with melanoma,” he said. “I had three weeks left to live.”

Pictures of him during treatment show him 80 pounds lighter, a shadow of his former self. But he fought anyway.

“I had hope. I had faith. All I could do was just push forward and stay strong,” he said.

Now, he’s passing that hope and strength on.

With his usual work suspended because of flooding, Kenney, who himself was under an evacuation order after a mudslide last week, is volunteering to take care of horses who have been displaced by the flooding.

He’s even been sending pictures to their owners to give them comfort that their animals are OK — all the while thinking of his own horse back in Alberta, where Kenney usually stays when he’s not working.

“He’s the love of my life,” he said.

Kenney got his horse, Bubba, during remission.

“I talk to him and it’s great for my mental health. Horses do that,” he said.

The shelter is also helping other volunteers, who are forging deep bonds.

“We all just came together and we became one huge family here,” one volunteer, Shelley Schenderling, told CTV News.

For some volunteers, it’s a distraction from the worries that the storm has brought up.

“I couldn’t sit on my couch, I couldn’t watch on TV,” Justin Honeywell said.

There is continuing anxiety about the forecast, which calls for more rain soon.

In fact, Kenney rushed to bring the animals in during a surprise deluge while CTV News was interviewing him and his team.

But although it’s a tense time right now, he’ll be the first to tell you that life’s storms do eventually pass.

“Whether it’s tomorrow, it’s a week down the road, another month maybe, three years down the road,” Rob said. “You’re gonna get through it, and they’re going to get through theirs.”

Resilience he’s using to help save the animals who once saved him.

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