There is no doubt that animals are wonderful companions for people who are ill or depressed. Studies have shown that animals give people a purpose, a will and a reason to get up in the morning. Unconditional love is sometimes the very best prescription of all. I just read a fantastic story from a woman who knows this better than most.
Ellen Harter in Holtwood, Pennsylvania writes about her busy household and the difference it has ultimately made in many lives. Ellen writes that they have had dogs, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits and a rat. Her family's lives changed though when their rat became ill and had to be put in an emergency oxgen cage for the weekend. Animals meant so much to Ellen and her heart was breaking worrying over her rat.
In an effort to give her something else to focus on, Ellen's husband came home with some information on a local No-Kill shelter and the possibility for helping out. There was no question. Ellen loved animals and in no time they were at the 26 acre facility on a tour. She and her husband were soon volunteering.
Eight years later their house became a refuge for animals that couldn't find a standard home. Too abused and frightened, these animals needed special care and consideration. The Harters eventually had 25 cats,a rabbit, two dogs, a rescued lab rat, a mouse and a fish. Their large house was perfect for this. Areas were partitioned off for the animals and their care. Visitors couldn't even tell it was a haven for abused animals.
However, taking care of all of these critters was a lot or work. The Harters found that kids enjoyed coming to help and that troubled children seemed to enjoy the work the most. They have had volunteer from a local adolescent drug rehab come out and help and even come back to help once their rehab was finished. It was the perfect combination to soothe everyone's souls.
Ellen writes, "I think we're on to something here." What an amazing thing to run a ranch that helps animals and children that have lost their way. Ellen couldn't imagine a more fulfilling life. Now if she could just win the lottery...