Wanna Be Ranch – Protecting Pets in Domestic Violence Situation
Far too often pets are drawn in to the horrors of domestic abuse and used as pawns to control the victim. I can say that because, yes, I have been in that sad situation myself. It takes a very sick person to use an innocent and defenseless creature to manipulate but that is just one of the ways of abusers.
One woman in Dayton, Oregon, Virginia Teeter, a one time victim of domestic abuse herself, who was manipulated with the animals she loved and cherished is doing something to make a difference.
When Virginia left her husband with her three small children, fleeing to a crisis center, she was forced to leave her 5 beloved horses behind. He husband contacted her to meet him about divorce proceedings in a public place.
“He dropped five bullets into my hand, and said if I didn’t come home, he would shoot the horses.” she said, reliving a memory still painful to her after 20 years. “I went back.”
Five years and one child later she was able to escape again, this time making sure that her horses we be taken to a safe haven as well.
Suddenly, she had a mission in life – to create a safe haven for the pets of domestic violence victims. Virginia is trying to help others, victims of domestic violence, escape their abuser without fear of having to leave their pets behind. Her dream of a ranch filled with animals is a reality, Wanna Be Ranch. Her dream of a safe haven shelter is in a secret location in Yamhill County.
For the past decade Virgina has been sheltering pets, dogs, cats, birds and more. Virginia, who faces her own obstacles in life, chronic kidney disease, with the help of her service dog, takes obstacles out of the ways for others.
“I love taking care of the critters, and I like keeping busy,” she said. “It takes my mind off of me.”
Teeter encourages owners to visit their animals if they feel it’s safe for them to do so. She especially encourages them to bring their children so the kids can see that the pets are OK during a period of separation that could last three or more months.
She also talks with the owners and their offspring about proper treatment of animals. Too often, she said, children have seen their abusive parent mistreat their pets and need to learn that’s not appropriate.
Most pet owners reclaim their animals as soon as they can.
For some, though, that’s complicated. They may be starting life over again in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, for instance.
In those cases, Teeter may need to find permanent homes for her charges. She assesses a small adoption fee to offset veterinary bills and other costs.
Teeter has done quite a bit of public speaking on behalf of Henderson House.
Lately, she has started speaking to service clubs and other groups about Wanna Be Ranch as well. She wants to spread her message, and hopefully bring in some donations in the process.
Now that Wanna Be Ranch has nonprofit status, she hopes to qualify for some grants and matching funds. She figures she has a good chance, since she can tap into two sources of grant money rather than just one – that devoted to ending domestic violence and that devoted to helping animals.
However, to get grants, the non-profit needs a grant writer. She hopes for either find a volunteer or find a funding source to pay someone.
She plans to take a grantwriting class herself.
She already took a web-authoring course to develop skills to build a Wanna Be Ranch website, and she took business classes to learn how to run a nonprofit.
The shelter has its own board of directors. Like Teeter, they are volunteers.
Caring for all those animals is costly, Teeter said. It includes covering the expense of spaying cats, licensing dogs and providing medical care.
She covers most of the bills herself, with some help from her grown children and board.
While she encourages owners to help her with food and supplies, she doesn’t require it and many lack the resources anyway. Often, they have fled to the shelter with no job, no money and no resources.
Wanna Be Ranch has an ongoing need for dry food for dogs, cats and ferrets, along with kitty litter, leashes, bird cages, large-breed dog crates, flea treatment products and hay for horses. It also has needs foster homes to help with short-term, short-notice boarding needs.
When it comes to supplies and equipment, Teeter’s wish list also includes a vacuum powerful enough to pick up pet hair, easy-to-clean vinyl flooring, a truck or van for hauling animal crates, a garage or kennel building and a larger property capable of housing expanded facilities.
She knows some of those items are long shots.
“If I could wish on a star, that’s what I would ask for,” she said. “But I know we’ll make it, once people realize what we do.” (News Register)
For more information or to make a donation visit – Wanna Be Ranch.
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