Dogs from Central and Southern California are being given a second chance at finding forever homes as a trio of friends has opened a nonprofit organization to take them off “kill” lists, bringing them to the Santa Ynez Valley until they can be adopted.
Old Yeller Ranch Rescue was started by Amanda Parker, granddaughter of the late acting icon-turned-winemaker Fess Parker, Chelsea Curtis of Los Olivos and Josh White of the Lompoc Valley.
“I’ve always loved dogs and can never have enough,” White said as he played with his collie-mix, Chino. “If it were possible to have a million of them, I would.”
Old Yeller Ranch Rescue opened at the beginning of the year on the Parker ranch in Los Olivos, providing a foster home to more than 30 dogs that were going to be euthanized. Since January, more than 10 dogs have already found homes, according to Parker.
“Josh and I fostered Dollie through Shadow’s Fund, another local rescue organization,” she said. “She is a pit bull that was going to be put down on Christmas Eve, and we couldn’t let that happen. We decided if we were going to foster more, why not just open our own rescue and do more.”
In short order, they organized their documents, got approved as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and started building kennels and dog runs in an unused barn on the Parker property.
“We are all crazy dog people and would much rather spend our days here with the animals,” Parker said. “Some of these dogs have never seen grass and spend the first week or two just eating all the grass they can and laying on it.”
The primary purpose of the rescue organization is to find homes for the dogs on “red” or kill lists, and also to discourage the perception that pit bulls are an aggressive breed.
“I had a pit bull when I was younger and he was the sweetest animal,” Parker said. “The reason they are aggressive and get the bad reputation is from people who breed them and don’t know how to train or take care of them.”
Even so-called “fighting” dogs aren’t human-aggressive, she continued, or else fights could not be broken up without injuries to their handlers.
“Most of the dogs we are rescuing are pit bulls because there are so many on kill lists,” White said. “But we take all and any breeds.”
The trio spent a weekend in Long Beach in February learning how to train pit bulls so they get any aggression out of their system. They’re also working on fundraising ideas and plan to have their inaugural event sometime this summer.
“We desperately need donations, which offset the costs of food and vet bills, as every dog adopted out is required to be spayed or neutered before leaving our facility,” Parker said.
She said they’re waiting for more funds to neuter one of the puppies so it can go to its forever home.
“We are willing to drive just about anywhere in the state to ensure they have the right home,” Parker added.
The trio inspects a prospective home to ensure it’s the right fit and introduces the dog to any other pets so they all get along.
“We are picky because we want to make sure that these dogs go to the most loving homes they deserve,” Parker said.
Aside from the nonprofit, Parker works at her family’s ranch for Vino Vaqueros, a horseback riding tour of the vineyards. She’s also a history major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and intends to pursue a law degree. White also works on the Parker ranch, while Curtis works at a tasting room in Los Olivos.
Click here for more information on Old Yellow Ranch Rescue, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Raiza Giorgi is a Noozhawk contributing writer from the Santa Ynez Valley. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.