What does it mean for an animal to live the good life? Well, first he (or she) needs to feel safe: to be around humans who view him as someone, not just something; to be seen as a unique being with powerful emotions and a distinct personality; to be protected and cared for throughout his life. Beyond just being safe, another part of the good life is to be spoiled. For most farm animals that means plenty of room to roam, toys, treats, love, and meaningful relationships with other animals and humans.
The Ritzy Rescue Rancher specializes in rescuing farm animals and then making them feel as safe and as spoiled as possible. This relatively new, private farm rescue has a total of eighteen animals including horses, goats, cows, cats, and dogs who are all living the good life. We got to hang out with The Ritzy Rescue Rancher founders Kate and Chris to learn about what they are doing and what is next for their rescue.
Animal Lovers to Activists
Like so many people who get into rescue or adopt a vegan lifestyle, Kate and Chris experienced a gradual journey to where they are today. Kate’s passion is to leave the world a better place than how she found it, and she sees helping animals as a way to give back. Always an animal lover, Kate became a member of the Board of Directors at Nuzzles and Co., an animal rescue in Park City, Utah.
During this time, Kate learned some ugly truths about how humans treated animals, and the ways animal agriculture impacts the environment. When Kate and Chris met, they were both interested in transitioning to a cruelty free lifestyle. They started by rescuing and fostering dogs, as well as volunteering at some local farms. Seeing so many animals in need inspired them to open their own rescue. They found land west of Salt Lake City and moved with four rescue dogs and two kids.
From Rags to Riches
Every animal at The Ritzy Rescue Rancher has his or her own story. One of our favorites was Teddy. Like any male cow born on a dairy farm, Teddy was unwanted from birth. Dairy farmers impregnate female cows for the sole purpose of milk production, so baby cows like Teddy become byproducts. Male cows born to dairy moms have two possible fates: they can be raised for beef or they can be chained and confined until they are killed at a young age to become veal. The dairy farmer who first owned Teddy sold him to a goat farm. There, he drank goat’s milk and the new farmer intended to sell him for meat. The Ritzy Rescue Rancher heard about Teddy and decided to step in and Teddy has been with Kate and Chris ever since.
Once we came to the pasture on our visit, Teddy took turns going from person to person asking for attention. He loves chin scratches and made sure he got some from each of us. People who work with cows often describe them as grass puppies, meaning they have sweet personalities similar to dogs, and Teddy lived up to that nickname.
Finding Teddy a Friend
Once Teddy settled in, it it was time to get him a friend. The Ritzy Rescue Rancher property is surrounded by other farms. Kate and Chris knew that a neighbor’s operation involved buying very young calves (under 48 hours old) from local dairy farms. The farmer then packs them into a trailer (with no room to sit or lay) and drives hours back to his property. From there, he sells them to other farmers at under a week old, usually for meat.
Kate told us, “Meeting India was one of the hardest moments of my life. Chris and I saw all these calves shipped in; we always wanted to rescue one. After rescuing Teddy, we went to our neighbor’s to find a calf to save and be Ted’s forever friend.”
Walking onto the neighbor’s lot, Kate saw over thirty calves. Deciding which calf would be saved was a heart wrenching decision that still impacts her. Kate and Chris decided that they would take the calf who approached them. Unfortunately, most of the calves had a terrible illness called scours caused by stress, heat, or diet change. Scours is common in calves and can be fatal. They were so sick that most of them could barely move.
Eventually, a black and white cow who they would later call India approached them. Her umbilical cord was still attached to her little body. She was so sweet and one of the biggest calves on the lot. They agreed to rescue her immediately.
Trials and Triumph
Kate and Chris quickly realized that India had scours and was extremely sick. Within 24 hours, she quit moving, standing, eating, and drinking. She seemed to have lost the will to live. For two nights, they went to bed not expecting her to make it through. However, they were able to rehabilitate India using a feeding tube, medication, and a lot of love. Chris and Kate had to lift her up and help her walk as part of the rehabilitation therapy. After a couple of weeks, India was healthy again.
Today, Teddy and India are sweet, playful cows enjoying their forever home at The Ritzy Rescue Rancher. Teddy and India have their own private cow pasture – talk about the good life! With plenty of room to roam, they enjoy playing with balls and eating treats of fruits and veggies. Teddy is a soccer star and will show off his skills to visitors. Kate describes India as her best friend, “I go to her whenever I am having a bad day and she always gives me the love I need to feel better.”
A Private Sanctuary
Unlike many of the nonprofit sanctuaries that we profile, The Ritzy Rescue Rancher is currently a private rescue. With a private rescue, a founder or owner makes all the key decisions and takes care of the financial oversight of the operation (as opposed to a governing board). Private sanctuaries can take donations, but they are not tax deductible and are not subject to government oversight or regulations. Almost every rescue operation starts as a private one and then becomes an official nonprofit.
In the case of the Ritzy Rescue Rancher, the main advantage of operating a private sanctuary is that Kate and Chris have been able to make all the key decisions up to this point. The downside is that they are funding the vast majority of the operation all on their own. They work traditional jobs during the week while taking care of all the animals and running the rescue – it is a huge commitment. Kate and Chris are truly doing it for the love of the animals. A few key friends and family members have also helped, and the couple received some donations from the Salt Lake City vegan community; however, they have built this operation from the ground up mostly on their own.
Get Involved with The Ritzy Rescue Rancher
There are so many benefits to getting involved in a smaller and newer sanctuary. To start, any small rescue operation really needs your help to build up a community of supporters. Second, your time and donations will make a huge impact. Finally, you will have the chance to really get to know and interact with the animals and the people at a smaller rescue. Here are some ways to get involved with The Ritzy Rescue Rancher.
Donate to The Ritzy Rescue Rancher
Donate Food, Medicine, and Enrichment Items on Amazon: The Ritzy Rescue Rancher has an Amazon Wish List set up. You can go to the Wish List and pick any of the dozens of items that they currently need for their residents. This works for any budget as items on the list range anywhere from $5 to $500. Each item also states the level of need, with items labeled as “Highest Need” and “High Need” being the most urgent.
Starting the summer of 2021, Kate and Chris will begin welcoming volunteers to help on a weekly basis or with specific projects. Volunteering at a sanctuary is a fantastic way to learn about the sanctuary, get plenty of animal love, and help a sanctuary without making a monetary donation. If you’re interested in volunteering, email them at RitzyRescueRancher@hotmail.com.
Amplify The Ritzy Rescue Rancher on Social Media
With a newer rescue operation, one of the biggest things you can do to help is to spread the word on social media. Currently, The Ritzy Rescue Rancher uses Instagram for most of their social media presence. Follow their Instagram Account, then like, share, and comment on their posts.
What’s Next for The Ritzy Rescue Rancher?
In terms of animals, the next thing up for The Ritzy Rescue Rancher is to have a space for birds. Kate and Chris are in the process of building a chicken coop and fenced run; they have also added a lot of bird care items to their Amazon Wish List. Once construction is complete, they will be ready to welcome rescue birds who are in need of a loving home.
Beyond just rescuing more animals, Kate and Chris are also in the process of exploring the possibility of making the sanctuary an official nonprofit. Although this can be a laborious process, it would open up the sanctuary to more donations, publicity, grants, and tax advantages. Most rescues eventually go the nonprofit direction, and Kate and Chris see this as a potential goal for the future.
Although running a rescue can have ups and downs, Kate and Chris have the determination and positivity it will take to make it work in the long term. “There is nothing that makes us happier than giving back to those in need. We all have the power to create positive change,” they told us.
Final Thoughts and Further Reading
Now that you know about The Ritzy Rescue Rancher, can you do one thing today to help them out? Follow them on Instagram, order something off their Amazon Wishlist, or send a donation on Zelle. Let us know how you helped them in the comments. If you liked this post, check out these others!
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