WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Nearly 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters in the United States every year. Of those shelter animals, 1.5 million are euthanized, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Some of those animals were injured. Some were neglected.
“I don’t feel a dog should die because of a broken leg because it’s hit by a car. A person wouldn’t die because they had a broken leg,” said Lauree Simmons, founder and CEO of Big Dog Ranch Rescue.
But this 33-acre, cage-free, and no-kill shelter called Big Dog Ranch Rescue is changing the fate of dogs who would otherwise be euthanized.
“Seventy-five percent of our dogs come from kill shelters,” Lauree Simmons uttered.
With programs, such as Seniors for Seniors and Veteran Dog Training, abandoned dogs get a new purpose.
“We train dogs that are rescue dogs and turn them into service dogs for veterans with PTSD,” said Evan Fried, a service dog trainer at Big Dog Ranch Rescue.
The ranch also rescues dogs on an international scale. From meat markets in China to dogs displaced due to natural disasters.
“This is Elly. She just arrived from Puerto Rico,” said Lindsey Naimoli, a veterinarian at Big Dog Ranch Rescue.
So far 47,000 dogs have been saved since the ranch opened in 2009. Simmons’ goal is to get to 5,000 dogs saved a year and for all the other dogs that are unable to be saved, Simmons says three things are key.
“We’re only going to end this through education, legislation, and sterilization,” Lauree Simmons declared.
In 2019, Big Dog Ranch took part in helping pass the nation’s first animal anti-cruelty bill, which makes intentional acts of cruelty to animals a federal crime. The first step in giving Fido a fighting chance.
Big dogs tend to stay in shelters longer than smaller dogs, however, the shelter rescues small dogs too. Simmons says it costs about $6.5 million a year to run the ranch.