One big way Big Dog Ranch Rescue plans to save all dogs
Lauree Simmons doesn’t just want to save a few dogs, or even a few hundred dogs. She wants to save them all. As founder and president of Big Dog Ranch Rescue, the largest no-kill dog rescue in the southeast, Simmons grew her nonprofit from a modest Weimaraner rescue to an all-dog (big and small!) rescue that has saved more than 12,000 dogs to date and have filled the hearts of 12,000 individuals and families.
“We get hundreds of e-mails a day from people begging us to take their special dog,” says Simmons. “I’ll never stop until it ends.”
In 2014 alone, Big Dog Ranch Rescue saved nearly 2,200 of our four-legged friends. It spayed or neutered 1,218 and brought in more than 1,000 from high-kill shelters. For Simmons, her staff, and more than 600 volunteers, that’s not enough.Two dogs—Sammy and Chandler—sustained multiple injuries from getting hit by cars. Under the ranch’s care, Sammy survived multiple surgeries and regained his strength and pep. Before Big Dog Ranch Rescue, Sammy was a day away from euthanization. Now he’s playing at the ranch until he finds what ranch staffers call his “forever home.
Chandler had a long road of rehab, but is now healthy and waiting for parents. There are thousands more abandoned, stray, and sheltered Sammys and Chandlers. But with education and awareness, they don’t have to be. View some more amazing rescue success stories below.
Bigger ranch rescue: How you can help us build a life-saving facility.
Big Dog Ranch Rescue recently broke ground on a new Palm Beach County facility that will allow the site to rescue, care for, and house even more dogs. Its current home, a former wildlife facility, has space to house about 200 dogs at a time. The new facility would house almost 500.“We’ll be able to save more than double the amount of lives,” says Simmons. “They will have a cage-free environment and yard space to roam and play with other dogs. We want to create a home-like setting that is less stressful for the dogs and more friendly for the adopters.”
Dogs will sleep in climate-controlled 12×12 bunks, giving them a break from the brutal summer heat. Separate puppy pods provide a safe, spacious environment for orphaned little ones and pregnant moms. Older dogs will have round-the-clock care in the Senior Sanctuary, and heartworm-positive dogs can recover in a cool, quiet haven until a veterinarian approves them to enter the adoption program. The new facility will serve the community though educational programs, obedience training, and affordable spay and neutering. In addition to classes for adults and kids, Simmons wants to reach Palm Beach County-area shelters. “We want to educate the small rural shelter on how to engage the community—how to put dogs’ information on simple websites so that the public knows they need homes.”
The proposed Veterinary Healing Center will provide routine and life-saving services for all animals under the ranch’s care. This will allow the facility to keep saving dogs like Sammy, Chandler, and more serious cases like Survivor. Before his rescue, Survivor was severely malnourished, immobilized, and suffered a horrible skin disease. After lots of care, he has a fluffy white coat and thrives in his forever home. “These animals don’t need to die for treatable conditions or because a shelter doesn’t have room for them,” says Simmons.
Of course building the Big(er) Dog Ranch Rescue costs money. The nonprofit is in the process of raising the $3 million required to start building. While it would graciously accept a donation for the $350,000 required to build the Welcome Center, for example, small donations make a big difference. For $150, donors can get the name of a loved person or pet engraved on a brick for the Brick for Pet Pathway. For $250, donors can honor a friend or pet with a Memory Stone in the facility’s Memorial Garden. Even a more modest donation can help feed a litter of puppies or give a dog a microchip.
At a time when animal shelters euthanize millions of animals, havens such as Big Dog Ranch Rescue serve an important animal welfare mission. Says Simmons, “rescue is the only way for these dogs to find home to call their own.”