The volunteers of Last Chance Ranch are opening the doors for their bi-annual open house and are inviting members the community to come out and learn about what they do at the ranch and how members of the community can help.Owner Lori McCutcheon started the equine rescue facility 1989, after saving her first horse

1984. From there the hobby grew and grew into the thriving non-profit that it is today.

"When I was 12, I met my first horse," said McCutcheon on her beginnings with horses. "When I was 14 the horse had gotten sick and the owners were just going to get rid of him."

McCutcheon bought the horse from the auction and took with her through high school and beyond. She spent an entire year working to help rehabilitate the horse and eventually return what others were ready to give up on to something that was happy and living at 100 percent.

"I saw that with time and energy I could make him better," she said.

Now they get calls all the time from people who observe cruelty, those with poor knowledge of how to take care of animals or those who just show a lack of desire to continue owning an animal.

"We turn cats, dogs and hors-away every day," she said about the desperate need for rescue shelters to help keep the thousands of animals out there need from going to slaughter. But they try their best and work their hardest with the resources they have to help as many animals as they can.

They depend on fundraisers like the open houses to help keep the ranch running. The open house is scheduled for 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday September 13.

Volunteer and Event Coordinator Gina Decker, who organizing the open house, said that she enjoys spending her free time at the ranch because of the many great volunteers and the spiritual feeling she gets when she helps the animals in need.

And for all the good that is done at the ranch, McCutcheon knows that there is always more be done, so she tries to keep the ranch going and growing.

And although they specialize in horses, McCutcheon tries to help animals whenever she can. Following hurricane Katrina they began adopting dogs that were displaced. The ranch has goats, a sheep, a potbelly pig, a turkey and various other animals hanging around, enjoying a life free from neglect and cruelty.

"It is sad that society views animal as so disposable," She said, explaining that education one of the missions of the ranch, adding that many owners unwanted animals could have prevented their mistake if they did their homework. She cited her resident turkey, that was a pet to someone who thought that having five baby turkeys around would be fun. Eventually, the little birds grew and grew and grew and they weren't so cute anymore.

The open house is to expose people to the animals and to show them the importance of treating animals properly and with respect.

The ranch adopts out animals that are sheltered there, but no adoptions will be made on the day of the open house - potential owners need to be sure that they can handle the responsibility that comes with an animal, or else the animals may end up back at the ranch for a second time.

"There is a need for it," said McCutcheon about the important call for rescue shelters like hers to exist. "These animals did not ask to get put into this bad situation. A lot of them don't have a voice to get out of this situation and we are the animals voice."

"When we take an animal that we know is on death's door and we bring them home and they are happy and healthy and then we put them in a family Years later you may get a picture of that dog curled up watching TV with the family and that makes it all worth while."

Visit www.lastchanceranch.org.

David P. Anderson is the editor of The Free Press. He can be reached at dpanderson@berksmontnews.com.

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