HARTVILLE – It’s not a children’s tale, but the three little pigs that John Ramer rescued and rehomed at Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary were the result of a coordinated rescue by Ramer and singer, songwriter and actress, Ariana Grande.
John Ramer, executive director at Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary popped into the national spotlight last fall when he was contacted by Tia Torres who has a show on Animal Planet called “Pit Bulls & Parolees. He was asked to join her in an animal rescue in Texas.
Recently Ramer has gone back to Texas in another project that saved 100 beagles from being euthanized at a laboratory where they were being tested. The task seemed impossible to most sanctuaries and would prove too costly for the laboratory to rehome all of them and decided to go with their best financial bottom line, which was to euthanize the dogs.
“That first Texas trip showed me how Kindness Ranch was very ready to grow,” Ramer said. “To set itself up as a sanctuary making a real difference and we are going to do nothing but continue to set the gold standard, not just for sanctuaries in our field, which is relatively easy since we were the first one to deal only with laboratory research animals, but sanctuaries in general.”
Kindness Ranch was not only put on the map last fall, gaining national attention, but has grown to be a well-respected sanctuary with cutting edge techniques. As the Kindness Ranch, not yet two decades old has already experienced some growing pains, and with the pandemic and needing qualified and caring workers, staff turnover has been an issue in the past.”
“Now we have such a truly astonishing staff,” Ramer said. “We are really flourishing. We’ve extended our farm animal area and now we’ve gotten four new pigs in the last six months. We had only one pig initially last year and her name is Sally. She now has a boyfriend and they are livin’ the dream.”
The hog family is now flourishing with some rather famous pigs.
“I was putting out feelers to find more pigs because they are social animals and they can’t just be isolated,” Ramer said. “There was a rescue in southern California that got involved in a large-scale pig rescue where an owner got over her head and a lack of having the pigs altered caused her rescue to grow from 40 pigs to over 100.”
She reached out for help and the “beautiful heart of Hollywood,” according to Ramer stepped in. The rescue in part was funded by Ariana Grande. Kindness ranch has three pigs which Grande paid for to be transported to Wyoming.
Ramer then entered into a dog rescue that was one of the biggest that Kindness Ranch has been a part of. He took two more trips to Texas on a recommendation from Torres who had a friend in Canada who was hoping to do a beagle rescue and who needed help. There were 100 dogs that had been in a flea and tick study in Texas and when the study was over, so was the usefulness of the dogs to that facility.
By the time the good intentions and time restraints brought the harsh reality that there was no possible financial way to take all those dogs across the border to Canada with proper paperwork and international vaccines, Ramer could have simply let the dream die. But that would have also been a death sentence for 100 beagles who were not yet 2 years old.
And that was something Ramer was not willing to stomach. He wouldn’t rest until he found a solution. Ramer flew down to the facility unannounced and guaranteed the lab that he would take every dog off their hands and it would cost them nothing.
“I showed up at the research facility before they even knew I existed,” Ramer said. “I just knocked on their front door and explained who I was and what I wanted to do. I said that I was at their disposal to help. They graciously entertained me for a couple of hours. I told them I would take all of the dogs, they just needed to tell me when.”
After not hearing from the facility for almost a week, Ramer finally got a text.
“I woke up Sept. 17 to a text message from one of the parties involved saying, ‘let’s make this happen.”
Everyone down at the facility was leaning toward “easier” meaning euthanizing the dogs, but there was one man in Ramer’s corner who reminded his representatives that there was “this John guy from Wyoming” who was willing to take the dogs at no cost to the laboratory facility. And that included not having to pay for euthanizing.
“In less than two full working days, I made all the phone calls to get all of the health certificates done, I personally vaccinated all of the dogs,” Ramer said. “I had a stipulation that those that were willing to help me had to have a way to help transport the dogs and they had to be in Texas within 48 hours.”
Ramer then made a deal with a local hotel to set up a temporary area in their parking lot and working with 20 dogs at a time, they began to relieve the laboratory of the dogs. Ramer found and placed 20 dogs in a Texas rescue, 20 dogs were shipped to a rescue in Wisconsin, and the rest were shipped to a facility in Orange County, California. With the exception of the 35 dogs that were hauled to Kindness Ranch in two separate trucks.
The entire cost of the operation which was shared by the coordinated rescue was between $50-65K. Kindness Ranch was into the mix with $12K.
“Kindness Ranch was the one facility that was trusted to place over 100 dogs at one time,” Ramer said. “I can say, the facility in California, called Priceless Pets has already started doing adoptions. All the dogs we rescued were between a year and 18 months old.”
Of the 35 that came to Wyoming, Ramer said that he feels comfortable in adopting out 10 at this point and they are still working to domesticate the dogs and get them used to a whole different lifestyle. The dogs were bred to be lab animals and to be pets is going to take the second half of the miracle with the staff who lives with these animals 24/7.
It seems as if John pulled off a pretty big miracle and from experience, people are finding out that Kindness Ranch does miracles. The result are the many new owners over the years who have been thoroughly pleased and totally in love with their new family members.
Valery Yuravak, a new staff member who relocated from Ohio is Ramer’s newest miracle worker is in charge of domesticating the dogs and lives at Kindness Ranch in the dog yurt.
“I’m here just following my dream,” Yuravak said. “It’s a good mental reset for me working here with the animals being really great and the staff is just fantastic.”
The animals that Yuravak starts out with can at times pose a challenge because of how they were raised. They have to adapt from a cold, clinical life with almost no human contact to a life where they are a family member. Because of some of the trials the animals go through, they can sometimes associate human interaction with a certain amount of physical pain.
“At first, they don’t act like normal dogs,” she said. “A lot of them have a type of PTSD and really, they just don’t trust people when they come here. It takes a lot of patience and being able to work with them all hours of the day. If you see a little bit of an opportunity where they are curious, you have to sit down and use that opening to work with them as much as you can. The goal is that they would get adopted out and find a forever family that they can be a part of.”
The job with Torres that gained Ramer national attention last summer when he was contacted by Torres, made famous by her show on Animal Planet called “Pit Bulls & Parolees,” was a wild dog rescue. She had taken on a project near Dallas, Texas, where a man was trying to breed wolves with wild dogs. According to Ramer, those dogs are valuable and in demand in the south. She called upon Ramer due to his success with large breed dogs and his success rate for rehabilitation.
Ramer took a team down to Texas and was used to help live trap these dogs on the property and to consult with Torres as to the future possibilities of these animals. They came to the property and found mass chaos and animal anarchy.
They also found the owner had hung himself and the wild dogs were feeding on this man’s corpse, suspended from a tree.
There is not much that Ramer hasn’t seen in his colorful past with animals, but the abuses and the filth in that situation brought tears to his eyes, a lump in his throat and a sickness to his stomach. The group that Ramer brought down teamed up with Torres’ people and the television show aired in the spring of 2021.
Ramer tried to domesticate one of the wild dogs that was brought back to Kindness Ranch, but with some rescues, the animals are just not capable of being domesticated. Torres has since bought that property where the rescue took place and has turned that into a sanctuary for these wild dogs.
The dog named “Q” is now living out the rest of his life at that sanctuary where he was originally rescued. Ramer said that the animals are well taken care of with a full-time staff and the happy ending was that “Q” was able to go back to the only home he has ever known.
Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary was created and developed by Dr. David Groobman who is a Denver psychologist who, according to Ramer, never really stopped practicing and utilized those around him from friends to colleagues who had expertise in the areas that would bring a quality to his vision. Ramer calls Groobman a “fantastic idea man who delegates very well and found the right people to put the right facilities in place to fulfill his vision.”
In other words, he did not micromanage people who had the expertise to see and implement his dream. He let them run with their talents and encouraged them to be creative in their giftings. Ramer said that he is humbled that someone would put give him the responsibility of putting all these animal’s lives in his hands every day.
“He founded the sanctuary as a passion,” Ramer said. “He wanted to have animals that were used in laboratory research and teaching facilities to be retired rather than the alternative which was euthanasia and incineration. He’s a doctor who was aware of how many animals were being used in clinical trials, laboratory testing and veterinary teaching facilities.”
The fate of all of those animals 15 years ago was all euthanasia Ramer commented. Groobman knew from his medical experience that many of the animals used in testing could be rehabilitated and adopted out. He bought the property in two different phases and little by little over time invested a lot of money in getting the sanctuary that he envisioned.
“It was to be a sanctuary not only for the animals, but also provided a destination for people who wanted to experience Wyoming and be around animals,” Ramer said. “Also that the animals were not needlessly disposed of. We could offer the animals a thank you for their service. We could also enrich the lives of people looking for a companion animal.”
The hours at the Sanctuary for volunteer visitors are from 10 a.m. to noon and then again from 2-4 p.m. Their business hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ramer recommends that you call ahead to visit and set an appointment, especially if you are considering the rental of a yurt for a night which rents out for $150.
For information about Kindness Ranch, please visit them at: https://www.kindnessranch.org/ and for reservations for tours, yurt rentals, animal volunteers, employment or general information, you can call the sanctuary at 307-735-4177. The Kindness Ranch is a full nonprofit and corporation and your gifts are not only appreciated, but tax deductible.