What kinds of animals are at your refuge?
At Rocky Ridge Refuge I take in a wide variety of animals, both domestic and exotic. While dogs are the primary focus, I have a Zebra, Water Buffalo, Capybara and Wallaby among some of the more unusual residents. I specialize in animals needing help due to abuse/neglect, medical needs or permanent refuge.
How did your Rocky Ridge Refuge refuge start?
I have literally rescued animals since I was 2 years old, when I found an injured pelican on the beach in Florida! Rocky Ridge Refuge (www.rockyridgerefuge.com) sort of started when I moved to Arkansas from Hawaii about 20 years ago. I slowly worked toward establishing my ‘Animal Group Home’, as I was able, while working two to three jobs at a time to fund it.
What do you do for fundraising and events?
I had never thought about asking anyone else to help fund my efforts, but a unique series of events led to unexpected public awareness and that led to visitors finding their way to my place by the thousands, and they sometimes left donations. I had been given a baby Watusi calf in 1995, and in 2003 he was certified by Guinness World Records as having the largest horn circumference on any animal ever recorded! That led to some media attention and eventually several appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Two years ago I began my first fundraising project of making and selling RRR calendars featuring photos of the animals here.
Do you have a favorite story about the refuge?
There are way too many good stories to pick a fave! One that is quite popular in the media this year is about my Capybara, Cheesecake, and how she loves to foster the puppies here. I take in a lot of pregnant moms and also orphaned puppies, and once weaned, Cheesecake takes over as chief mom, coach, teacher and friend. She has fostered 7 different litters already this year! Another fave story people all over are amazed with is how my rescued tortoise, Crouton, chose to move in with a litter of ten Great Dane puppies and insisted on never being far from them, even as they grew bigger and rowdier!
Why do you love what you do?
I was born to do this work. I have done many other things in my life, but have always needed animals around me to feel ‘right’. Helping any being that truly needs help is a duty and a privilege. I really don’t see much more purpose of life here other than doing what we can to ease another’s burden and spreading kindness and hope as we travel our path.
Does anyone help out in addition to yourself? If not, tell us what it’s like working a one-woman operation!
I have always been a one woman operation for many reasons. Not always easy, but I like it overall. Recently, I have found a good friend here who I am teaching the work to, so there will be a back up and eventual replacement once I can no longer continue in a major way. I have also begun a rescue partnership with a woman in Texas, with access to more specialty vet services, so that I may save more dogs with major medical issues there. I have also been fortunate to attract a large Facebook fan base in recent years and some of my supporters are a huge help with offers to drive transports I need around the country.
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