Imagine beginning life confined to a laboratory with little interaction with normal life, used to test potentially harmful products and left to suffer if those products should be harmful. That was Odie’s existence, a Labrador-mix, for the first seven years of his life, until Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary stepped in.
Dr. David Groobman had a vision “to provide a sanctuary and place of rehabilitation for animals who have previously been used in laboratory research.” So he created a very unique sanctuary. Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary is the only sanctuary in the US that takes in all kinds of research animals.
The staff live on site to provide the best care possible for the animals. “A few staff members even share their homes directly with the sanctuary dogs,” said Stephanie Bilbro, Kindness Ranch Companion Animal Manager. The ranch offers a vacation destination because of their remote location for potential adopters to stay in when they visit.
Located in Hartville, Wy., the ranch was founded in 2006 and has been home to dogs, cats, horses, sheep, pigs, and cows. Odie has lived at the ranch since 2013. “He, along with several other dogs and cats, came from a lab on the east coast that uses the animals to test pet food and treats,” Bilbro said.
Odie has a ton of personality. He arrived with a bit of arthritis, particularly in one of his front legs (which caused him to limp a bit), but this doesn’t stop him from enjoying the freedom Kindness Ranch has afforded him.
“He would walk for miles if we would let him, but we have to keep the walks very short otherwise he will be in pain,” Bilbro said. “But he enjoys his quiet days napping and hanging out with the staff, and will occasionally feel well enough to romp with the other dogs in the back yard.”
A unique feature about Kindness Ranch is their dedication to the full lives of the animals they offer sanctuary, too. Animals who are too debilitated, old, or ill to be placed in a home can remain at the ranch to live out their days, surrounded by caretakers and volunteers who make their well-being a priority. Odie may well be one of those animals.
“There was belief for a while that he (Odie) would find a fabulous forever home, and while we would still love that for him, we have recently started to consider the possibility that he will be with us for the remainder of his life,” Bilbro said. “The staff all love this ‘grumpy old man’ as we like to call him, and we want what is best for him.”
There is a common idea shelter pets are broken. The staff at Kindness Ranch say otherwise. “Many people worry that because of the animals’ backgrounds they may have long-term health or behavioral issues and may not make ideal pets. But the truth is that the majority of our animals go on to live full, healthy lives as adored family members and our dedicated adopters never regret their decision to adopt from us,” Bilbro said.
If you feel like your home would be the perfect forever home for Odie or you would like more information about the Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary you can visit their website (www.kindnessranch.org), stop by their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/kindnessranch), email them ([email protected]), or call them directly at (307) 735-4177.