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The history of Journey’s End Ranch Animal Sanctuary (JERAS) is intrinsically linked to the history of its president and founder, Catherine Ritlaw. A lifelong animal lover and veterinary technician for many years, Cathy has been nursing, rehabilitating and rescuing animals since she found an orphaned woodchuck at age ten. Determined to save the animal, Cathy studied it’s particular needs, and lovingly cared for it until it was able to be successfully returned to the wild.
Cathy was a practicing veterinary technician until a severe back injury forced her to pursue other career interests. After several life changes, including developing debilitating chemical sensitivities that make it nearly impossible for her to be around any chemical products, enclosed environments or people, she returned to the animals, resolving to dedicate herself to animal rescue and rehabilitation.
In 1994 Cathy began actively rescuing dogs, cats, pigs, burros and fostering wild horses, focusing her efforts on animals with special needs, and learning about ways to effect rehabilitation and continued care. In 2002, Cathy fulfilled a dream when she purchased 37 acres in the high desert of Southern Arizona, officially forming Journey’s End Ranch Animal Sanctuary—a place of respite and rehabilitation for all who reside there. In 2010, Journey’s End Ranch Animal Sanctuary obtained its 501(c)(3) status and began a campaign for sustainability and educational outreach.
Listen here at the 40 minute mark for a radio interview done 6/30/11
Catherine is the sole provider and caretaker for the ten dogs, ten horses, seven burros, a sheep and one pig that currently have found sanctuary at Journey’s End Ranch. Would you like to meet them?
Wilbur is a 12 year old mini pig. He escaped an abusive home and traveled across five miles of treacherous desert to arrive at my doorstep eight years ago. When I located his owners and discovered they had been abusing him, I informed them he would be staying with me. He is a funny little guy with a bit of an attitude. He loves dogs and horses. belly rubs, and daily mud baths in the warm weather.
Rambeau is a Barbados wether (neutered ram) who joined us in 2011. He was a no-longer-wanted pet and he and Wilbur are best friends now.
Maggie is an old terrier mix and was found wandering the desert as a half grown pup. She is a bit wild and crazy, and loves her ball-on-a-rope toy and stuffed animals. At age four, she became fearful and sometimes aggressive. I suspected low thyroid function and lab test confirmed it. She is back to her old self on daily thyroid medication. She is an amazing watchdog.
Bear is a solid black Chow Chow mix. He had been surviving on his own in the desert around us, eating anything he could catch and somehow avoiding being killed by coyotes or mountain lions. I was finally able to coax him into my car one day. He is now about 8 years old, is extremely smart and very sweet and affectionate. He is my hero, because on several occasions, he has saved my life by bravely jumping between me and the very poisonous Mohave rattlesnake I was about to step on. I am forever grateful to him.
Liza was discovered on Facebook. She was about to be put to sleep in a Dallas area shelter, because of repeatedly running away and being impounded. She sat there for a month, but no one wanted her. She is a little pit bull mix. We found charity rate transportation for her and help from volunteers. When she arrived here, she was fearful and a bit aggressive. It turned out she had low thyroid and since being spayed and put on medication, she is sweet & playful.
Raindance joined our family in early September, 2009. She is about 4 years old and was dumped at the local pound with her three week old pups. A rescue group saved their lives by taking them all in. Rain was never properly socialized with humans as a pup and can be very fearful, Someone also tried to leash train her and punished her by hanging her up by her neck on a choke chain. On top of that, she has been found to also be low thyroid, which can occur in young dogs and often causes behavioral problems including aggression and fearfulness. She is slowly learning to be more trusting.
To help her along, we adopted one of her eight week old pups. They were thrilled to be reunited. The puppy also showed signs of being fearful of new situations, so I am spending lots of time handling her and she has already learned to walk happily on a leash. Raindance is doing much better as the pup is giving her confidence and they spend hours at play every day. Mocha is now 2 & 1/2.
She is dark brown, tan and white. Her name is Mochaloca- because she is sweet like chocolate, wired like coffee and just a little bit crazy. Mochaloca had a penchant for eating gravel, a dangerous habit my vet says usually proves fatal. I had to buy enough shade cloth to cover the ground in the 14 by 28 foot pen outside the doggie door so she could play outdoors without access to rocks. Now, as an adult, she no longer has the problem and has grown into a lovely girl.
Carson was a dog posted on facebook in an L.A. kill-shelter. He was old, in terrible condition, with half his hair missing and emaciated. We offered him a home. With the help of donations from people on Facebook, someone to collect him from the shelter and another to transport him to us, we were able to pull off a pretty miraculous rescue. He needed thyroid medication, supplements and good food. He also had an old carpus (wrist) injury which we kept splinted for 6 weeks. It healed completely. He also gained 15 pounds. Carson can be ornery at times, but he is a happy boy who loves all his pack mates and his “Momma”. Six months after arriving, Carson collapsed with adrenal failure, and he is now on 2 medications to replace adrenal hormones.
Missy was seen on Facebook and Petfinder in early Sept. 2010. She had been abandoned at a Kentucky shelter and her time was up. She is 4 and has had puppies in her past. We offered to sponsor her and tried to find her a home in that area, to no avail. A few generous donors helped pay her transportation expenses and she is now very happy here. She was found to have a uterine infection and lung infection. After being spayed and treated with antibiotics, she is feeling much better. She and Raindance have become the best of friends.
Patty is a 7 year old basenji/whippet mix from an Austin, Texas shelter. She has a long history of multiple homes (at least 4) and multiple episodes of running away and being impounded. She was also dumped at shelters several times by her various owners. She was said to have anxiety and to be aggressive with other dogs. Her vets had missed the cause- low thyroid. One even had her taking psyche drugs, which, of course, did not help. As soon as she arrived here, we got here diagnosed properly and on thyroid medication and now she is fine. She is very playful and a great watchdog.
Shyla arrived in mid December 2010. She was an injured stray impounded in the Tucson area for 3 weeks and at risk of euthanasia. She was about 1-2 years old and is a Weimaraner, Staffordshire Terrier and cattle dog mix according to a DNA test. She has been a bit challenging in the behavioral department, but we have managed to work things out.
Rhonda, a nine year old beagle, was found as a stray in spring of 2012 and was going to be put to sleep after spending 3 weeks unclaimed at our local shelter. We took her in and she ended up needing a low dose of thyroid medication and an extensive dental with 7 extractions. The thyroid medication has helped a lot with her hyperactivity and anxiety. She can be dog aggressive if there is food around, so must be monitored when she is with the other dogs. The rest of the time, she has her own portion of the house and a yard of her own.
Mariah is a 9 year old mustang mare. She was captured in Nevada by the BLM at only five months of age and lost her mother in the process. She is very smart, affectionate and a free spirit, but has emotional scars and joint damage from her six months with the BLM. I adopted her at eleven months of age. She enjoys running free in our large pasture and being allowed to just be a horse.
Kola is a 8 year old mustang mare, born of a wild-captured mother in a BLM holding facility. By the time she was two, she had been shipped from Oklahoma to California to Arizona. Because she was passed over by adopters, she was deemed “unadoptable” and was offered as a “sale authority” horse. I paid ten dollars for her and saved her from the very real possibility of ending up at the slaughterhouse. She is very mellow and sweet and is Mariah’s best friend. They love having mutual grooming sessions.
Scout is an 10 year old mustang gelding. He had been abused, neglected and worked too hard for a young horse. When I found him he was a nervous wreck, had an injured neck and back muscles, creaky joints, overgrown and bruised hooves, and his teeth and temporal mandibular joint were out of balance, making it painful for him to even eat. He has had chiropractic care, body work and massage, dentistry, natural hoof trims, joint
supplements, and lots of love, patience and understanding. He now trusts me, runs and plays and is herd leader.
Little Rusty is a BLM mustang gelding who arrived in August of 2011. He had horribly neglected, infected & overgrown hooves and was 100 pounds underweight. After we addressed these problems, he became very active and assertive and is now the alpha horse, despite being the smallest at 13.2 hands tall.
Serena is an 14 year old wild burro, captured by the BLM in 2004. She was pregnant and very thin, due to the large number of cattle grazing in the area she lived in. She also had a back injury when she first came here. I later saw secret video taken by someone who watched the BLM “wranglers” using her and other wild burros and even baby burros for their roping practice. Serena is quiet and sweet and loves getting her long ears rubbed. She is terrified of men and of anyone carrying a rope.
Jovita is Serena’s 7 year old daughter, born here. She is a real character, playful and fearless. She often chases coyotes out of the pasture. She almost died of a rattlesnake bite three years ago. The vet and I pulled her through, but she then developed inflammatory disease set off by the snake venom. I tried many of the remedies I use myself and finally found one which worked magic. She is now healthy and loves to play rough with her
In December 2009, we heard about two mustang mares about to be shipped to slaughter. They had been rodeo broncs and then used in illegal “horse tripping”. Wild horse advocates joined together to rescue them from the meat buyer in California. They are now here, healing and beginning to trust humans a bit, after years of horrible abuse. The roan is now Rene’ and the pretty dun is Windy. They both were wild horses at one time and were born in 2002. They have been welcomed into our little herd by the others.
Rambeau, a formerly neglected Barbados ram, joined us in 2011.
In January 2012, Knickers, a 30 year old Arabian stallion rescued from 10 years of extreme neglect and two more BLM burros rescued from abuse joined our family. One is named Nina and the other is Esperanza. Esperanza gave birth to a beautiful black jenny foal on June 25, 2012. Her name is Florencia.
Thanks to winning a Pepsi Refresh grant in January 2012, JERAS was able to add shelters and hay sheds and fence 3 more acres. This allowed us to take in two additional senior horses, Big Rusty and Penny. We also have given a home to another formerly wild burro, Pepito and another mustang, Cheyenne.
JERAS is providing a safe and loving home to 28 animals- 7 burros, 10 horses, 10 dogs, a goat and a pig.
Despite being abused, neglected and abandoned by humans, these precious animals are healing and thriving with the care and understanding they deserve. Any donations are greatly appreciated and will be spent wisely to support these animals and others in the future. Many heartfelt thanks and blessings to those who care.
We are a Non-Profit 501 (c)3 organization
We are also licensed as an Arizona Equine Rescue by the Arizona Department of Agriculture
Our Az. Equine Rescue License and letter from our veterinarian- http://www.azda.gov/docs/JourneysEndRanchAnimalSanctuary.pdf
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