Restore, rehab and rehome: That’s the goal of BNSF employee-founded farm animal rescue

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Mar 19, 2024

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3 min.

Restore, rehab and rehome: That’s the goal of BNSF employee-founded farm animal rescue

Staff Writer

When she’s not directing trains in Southern California, you’ll most likely find dispatcher Amanda Hodson directing livestock to their forever homes.

In 2021, Hodson and her family moved back to her hometown in Hesperia, where she grew up riding horses with cousins and ranching on her grandparents’ 40-acre property. She soon got the itch to be around horses again. That’s when she started volunteering at local livestock rescues, realizing there was a need for more.

“We've got good jobs,” Hodson said. “We've been abundantly blessed. I can't tell you how fortunate I’ve been in my life, that people gave me a second chance or people poured into me. These animals really deserve the opportunity to be given that second chance.”

So, when Hodson and her family moved onto five acres of land, she shared her goal with her husband, Geoff Obst, to start the rescue on their property. “I have the most wonderful husband, who is so supportive,” she said. “He said, ‘If this is what you want to do, then let's do it.’” Besides being in her corner, Obst helps her, building and fixing things around the farm.

Horses, goats, chicken and cows aren’t the only animals you’ll find on the farm. 3 Hearts Farm Animal Rescue (3 Hearts) has welcomed a ferret, a few barn cats and dogs. It’s not easy feeding and caring for the animals and facilities but what’s really helped Hodson is the BNSF Railway Foundation, which matches employees’ donations to their eligible non-profit of choice, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000 a year.

“A lot of our success is thanks to the foundation and the BNSF employees who believe in what we’re doing,” Hodson said. “I have been with BNSF for 26 years and my husband has been a dispatcher with BNSF for 28. We’re fortunate that when people start hearing about what we’re doing, they donate.”

3 Hearts also partners with local animal controls and owner surrenders.

“We’ve become specialists in re-feeding starvation cases by accident,” Hodson said. “Our partners in animal control will call us when there’s a situation they need help with.”

Hodson is also enrolled in online Equine Science courses at her local college. Outside of work and home responsibilities, if she’s not feeding, cleaning or training a horse or at the vet, she’s maximizing her spare time by researching and enlisting others’ help. One of those helpers is a cousin with a degree in animal husbandry. Another is a nurse who taught her how to administer shots to the rescues, a best friend who is a vet tech and a horse trainer.

Not everyone is an animal care expert and that’s OK. Donations and volunteers are welcome. “I'll never tell somebody ‘no’ if they want to help me clean a stall or walk a horse with an injury,” Hodson said.

Some cases are harder than others. “We tend to get the horses that have been beaten, starved, neglected and tortured. Sometimes, they don't trust people,” she added.

In other cases, the horses that arrive at the rescue have been psychologically broken. That’s why a volunteer coming to spend time with the horse or read a book out loud to them is helpful, so they can learn it’s safe to be around humans.

For example, in 2022, horses Finn and Magnus arrived at the rescue. They were starved, thin and weak. Magnus was adopted a few months later and happily gives trail rides every day in central California.

It was more difficult with Finn as he had a fungal infection and was emotionally and mentally shut down. They took their time rehabilitating him, healing his heart and teaching him that humans could care for him in a loving way. In 2023, Finn was adopted by a family and went to live on a nearby farm.

Since starting 3 Hearts, 16 animals have arrived at the farm and 12 have been placed.

“No rescue mission is too small, and everyone can have an impact, even if it's in your own little corner of the world,” Hodson said. “You never really know how much impact you're going to have until you get out there and try. Never underestimate the impact that you have on the people – and the animals --around you.”

You can learn more about the rescue at

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