They speak in many languages: whinny, moo, oink, baaah, honk, quack and woof.
The message these animals convey to the humans they meet at HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary is one that “every life matters.” Each one is an animal rescue.
Located on 30 rolling acres in Greenwood, just four miles west of Georgetown, over 60 animals live out their days, knowing that their future is secure — and their pasts are behind them.
“HartSong Ranch is a magical place for horses, farm animals and dogs. Each sanctuary resident is an ambassador for all animals that tragically spend their lives in cruel confinement on factory farms, race tracks and breeding facilities,” said Kathy Hart, co-founder. “We celebrate the vivid emotions of ‘farmed’ animals and strive to enlighten the public about these fascinating creatures through sanctuary tours and rescue efforts focusing on humane education and alternative lifestyle choices, fueled by our belief that … every life matters.”
Special emphasis is placed on understanding each animal’s past conditions, and on rehabilitating that animal to the greatest degree possible through kindness and gentle treatment. The animals are safe at the ranch, where predation is low and round-the-clock care is available.
The animal sanctuary takes in some animals that other rescues are unable to support, such as those with special needs or unusual species. This includes five blind horses. In addition to horses, HartSong Ranch is home to an orphaned mule (whose parents were hit and killed by cars in Baja, Mexico), cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, Bourbon Red turkeys, chickens rabbits, geese, ducks and dogs.
“We have a sincere respect for animals with special needs, all of which require tremendous care, understanding and patience,” Kathy said. “Caring for our blind horses has been one of the most rewarding efforts of my life. They have taught me to listen … to respect and to embrace their abilities rather than their disabilities.”
One of the newest programs at HartSong Ranch is its dog rescue division. It is a program that is near and dear to Kathy’s heart.
“Our mission is crystal clear … to save those animals who languish in the back rooms of high-kill shelters, awaiting their trip to the euthanasia room, due to behavioral issues or special needs,” she said. “Shelters are highly stressful environments for some dogs and oftentimes, their fear makes them ‘rear back their heads and roar.’
“The dogs become protective of their space (kennel aggression) or they tremble, cowered in the corners of their enclosures, all behaviors which make them unsuitable candidates for the adoption floor. They know where they are (the smell of death is prevalent), why they are there, and chances are they will never make it out alive.
“We see their inner light, we understand their fears and we are determined to help them to ‘find their way,’” she said.
HartSong Ranch Dog Rescue Division has pulled 11 dogs from high-kill shelters since last December. Thus far, eight have found loving forever homes.
There are many ways animal lovers can become involved in helping the animals at HartSong Ranch. There is a place for every skill or talent, whether it is helping with ranch projects, gardening, horse training or helping at fundraising events and more.
“Volunteers are the heartbeat of HartSong Ranch, providing many gifts of love and labor for the animals in our care,” Kathy said. “Volunteers open their hearts. They volunteer their time, their expertise and their concerns for the animals that live within our gates. We provide the canvas and they provide the colors. We could not function without our most cherished volunteers.”
HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary is located at 3900 Blue Heron Way in Greenwood. Learn more at hartsongranch.org or find it on Facebook at facebook.com/hartsong.ranch.animal.sanctuary.