My husband and I have similar stories from childhood. Most of them involve us playing outside, getting dirty, and loving animals. Our stories consist of being young, full of hope, and rescuing, loving, and unfortunately losing many animals. These animals helped shape our lives. They inspired us to be part of the solution. They inspired us to help them any way that we can. And they allowed our hearts to grow big enough to love every creature that walks this earth.
We bonded instantly over our love of the country and animals. My husband and I became inseparable and eventually married in 2004. Brian joined the Air Force in 2006 and it was around that time that we started our adult journey of rescuing and caring for any animal that crossed our path. We lived in four states and rescued an animal in each place we lived in: three cats and a deaf Boston Terrier. We fostered a handful of dogs, rescued and re-homed cats and various exotic pets, and even helped injured bats, birds, and lizards to rehabilitate them to be re-released back out in the wild.
In 2007 we had our son, Destro, and felt it important to show him what compassion for animals looked like. We guided him to be gentle and loving and always helpful when it came to our pets and others animals we encountered. He instantly bonded with a kitten we adopted in Texas named Lotus. With Lotus as his shadow he took an even bigger interest in animals, especially cats, and often announced that he wanted to live on a farm and save animals when he grew up. It quickly became obvious that our son was an animal rescuer, just like us. We were, and continue to be, so proud of him.
We excitedly moved to Northern California in 2010 and at that time I felt ready to take our animal rescue efforts to the next level. I decided to start this rescue and base it in our home state of Kentucky. I noticed that there was a plethora of cat and dog rescues but hardly any rescues focusing on all the other pets and animals out there. We had fostered and cared for so many exotic pets and knew how difficult they can be to care for. They often end up abandoned because of this, which is a terrible thing. We also have a deep love and respect for farm animals; animals that are unfortunately often abused and slaughtered early in life. I wanted to help to ensure that they all had a fair chance at a new loving home. Almost immediately after starting the rescue I had people calling me and begging me to help them re-home their animals. The first animal we re-homed was an adorable pig named Gordy.
I was thrilled to do this work but still wanted a more hands on experience so I began volunteering at various dog and cat rescues. I still felt I wasn't doing what I was meant to do, that I was almost there, but not quite. Then I found Animal Place, a farm animal sanctuary in Grass Valley, California. My first day volunteering there was full of happiness and tears. I witnessed a group of chickens experience their first moments outdoors. I cried as they felt the sun touch their skin and their feet touch the earth for the first time. My life was changed at that moment. I found my purpose. I was finally fulfilled. Through working on that farm and learning from the amazing staff and interns I was able to revisit my dream of saving animals full time and possibly opening up my own rescue/sanctuary. I was inspired and continue to be every day. I give Animal Place all the credit. They showed me what was possible and I know I can save animals the same way that they do: with compassion, determination, and integrity.
During this time of pure happiness and joy at the farm our home life was becoming very difficult. Our son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and severe Anxiety. We were heartbroken at this diagnosis. We hated that our son had such a tough road ahead of him. We watched every day as he suffered through his tics that often left him unable to function or speak. We became slaves to his anxiety and obsessive behaviors that made him refuse to leave the house. Desperate to find him relief I began researching natural treatments to help ease his symptoms (there are no medications that truly help with Tourette Syndrome's main symptom: vocal and motor tics). I was thrilled to discover that children who spent time with animals, especially farm animals, showed a significant decrease in symptoms in Tourette Syndrome and Anxiety. The next day I reached out to the staff at Animal Place and asked if I could bring Destro to the farm. They happily agreed and I took him the next day to meet the animals. Over the course of one hour I tearfully watched my son become at ease, his heart open, and his tics and anxiety dissipate as he bonded with the chickens, turkeys, and goats. He giggled and smiled broadly (something he didn't do much of anymore) and hugged and kissed those animals with so much love that I bawled like a baby. I knew at that moment that our dream of having a farm animal and exotic pet rescue and sanctuary ran deeper than just wanting to save animals and to feed our souls. We had to do this for our son. The problem was finding the funds and deciding when to actually make our dream a reality.
In 2014 we moved to Germany due to my husband's job. It was a difficult decision but we couldn't turn down the chance to travel Europe and we needed the insurance for our son. I decided to still run the rescue and continue to keep it based in Kentucky. I also decided to go back to school and am now a Certified Veterinary Assistant.
During the short time we've been in Germany my husband and I have struggled with our future plans and how to actually implement them. We felt stalled and frustrated because we had a four year commitment with the military and in Germany. Despite that, however, we decided to buckle down and develop an actual life plan on how to fulfill our dream of owning a farm that enables us to rescue and house all the animals we can. We won't give up on our dream. The fear of raising that kind of money, of the possible failure, and not reaching our dream has been utterly terrifying. We often ask each other "If you could do anything in the world what would it be?" and our answer is always "Own our own farm and save animals for a living." We know what we have to do (and want to do) and we are willing to put the hard work into making it happen.
The decision was simple but still difficult. We have decided to buckle down and establish that life plan we developed over a long hike in the woods several months back. When we are ready, we are planning to finally settle down, buy a farm, and rescue animals for a living in Kentucky AND Germany. This will forever be our lives; what motivates us, inspires us, and feeds our souls. It will also help our son in ways we can't even imagine. We hope that through our rescue we will be able to reach more people and animals, make our goal of obtaining a farm and sanctuary a reality, and inspiring others to change the world one compassionate act at a time.
Since 2012 my husband and I have rescued and re-homed over 130 animals through our rescue. We have also helped to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife and exotic pets wherever we live. We are so very fulfilled and as determined as ever to do more.
Thank you so much for your endless love and support. We couldn't do this without you.