Furry or Not, Ranch Hand Rescue Believes that All Life is Precious

Furry or Not, Ranch Hand Rescue Believes that All Life is Precious

by Susan Neuhalfen

Doris Roberts saved my life,” were Ranch Hand Rescue Founder Bob Williams first words about his debilitating stroke that forced him into a year-long recovery that ultimately saved his life and many others.

Yes, THAT Doris Roberts.

Doris Roberts is best remembered as Raymond’s mom on the hit series Everybody Loves Raymond and was a very close friend to Williams. She was with him when he had his stroke and it was her quick thinking and actions that saved his life. Thanks to Roberts the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but there was a lot of recovery time in front of him so Williams got to work.

A Motorola executive, Williams didn’t know how to relax in order to recover so he began writing a book. One challenge was, following the stroke, he had to learn how to write again. He had re-trained his body and his brain to do a lot of things. The stroke was a huge wake-up call for him and he decided that he wanted to start an animal sanctuary, so he went to his friend Marty at the American Pet Spa in Argyle for advice. Marty loved the idea and offered to build some pens. From there, Williams began rescuing animals—and not just any animals—but the animals that everyone said couldn’t be rescued. These animals would ordinarily be euthanized because they had special needs. It was a tremendous undertaking and most tried to discourage Williams, so he called his friend Doris for support. At that point he had written three chapters from his life and was stuck on what to write for chapter 4.

“Don’t you realize that’s the next chapter in your book?” she asked.

Williams started Ranch Hand Rescue in 2008 as a place of hope and healing for victims of trauma.  First it was about the animals, and then it grew to include humans. Williams is of the belief that every life is sacred and every living creature—including an animal—has a purpose. He wanted to build an organization that would save special needs animals and also help people.

Now a non-profit charity, Ranch Hand Rescue (RHR) is an area farm animal rescue center and sanctuary that provides mental health counseling for children suffering from traumatic life experiences. RHR is trauma and PTSD certified and specializes in treating complex cases where individuals are not making progress in their current program.  They partner the children with the rescued animals under the guidance of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in counseling sessions.  These special animals that have been abused or neglected have a way of reaching the children in ways that people cannot.

“We’ve discovered a sort of magic connection between people who have been abused and animals that have been abused,” said Williams. “We partner abused and neglected animals with individuals (primarily children) to get to the root of the trauma.” 

Williams made it clear that they aren’t there to take away from the great job that their partner organizations do. They are there to fill a niche and help the children and adults that were not progressing in their current treatment program. 

Though traditional therapy works for many trauma victims, Williams explains that 5-8% of them are not successful and, as he puts it, “get stuck”. Many are referred to RHR, where therapists are not only licensed professional counselors, but they are also certified in animal therapies such as equine assisted psychotherapy. Many therapies are offered and each client, following extensive testing and evaluation, is designed the therapy to help him/her succeed. They offer animal-assisted therapy, equine therapy, EMDR, faith-based, sand tray, art therapy, play therapy and TF-CBT. 

Ranch Hand Rescue is not a riding therapy program. They serve a different client base. They focus on issues such as trauma from physical and sexual abuse, depression, anger, anxiety, grief/loss, substance abuse and eating disorders. In fact, they are the only non-profit Equine/Animal Assisted counseling program in the country that focuses only on mental health counseling, partners children with abused and neglected animals and uses only Licensed Professional Counselors with advance college degrees and special training in trauma informed therapy and other treatment modalities.  

Most coming into Ranch Hand Rescue aren’t in a position to pay for therapy. Williams believes that services should be free or at least subsidized for the victims. Programs are funded through grants and donations. Currently Ranch Hand Rescue has 62 children in their counseling program and has a waiting list of children needing services. RHR  accepts new clients as money is granted or raised. That way, they never have to stop therapy due to a lack of funds.  Williams says the cost per child is approximately $5,000 per year and that guarantees that the child will receive the services needed.

That’s where great friends like Annette and Glen Doody at Savory Bistro in the Bartonville Town Center come in.  The folks at Savory Bistro are hosting a fundraiser for Ranch Hand Rescue on June 22. Tickets are available now for the first annual Sunset Serenade and Summer BBQ Fundraiser from 6-10 p.m. The cost is $25 per ticket with pre-sale available at www.ranchhandrescue.org or at Savory Bistro.  Tickets include raffle tickets for door prizes, one complimentary drink (beer, wine or non-alcoholic), entry into the silent auction and fabulous entertainment by local musicians The BBQ itself is an extra charge and worth every penny and every bite.

“I am humbled by Annette’s and Glen’s kindness from Savory Bistro,” said Williams of his friends. “They are amazing people and I am proud to have them as part of our family.”

In addition, Ranch Hand Rescue is building their second facility on 377 in Denton.   Dave Salisbury of Hamilton Homes is generously building the new facility at a substantial price reduction. Once completed, RHR will be able to double the number of clients they currently serve. He also mentioned that if people have any commercial supplies they would be willing to donate, it would help them to get this facility done even sooner and cut costs.  They are looking for everything from doors to electrical supplies, lumber and cement to get the building up and running. A foundation in Dallas has agreed to double any donations made to RHR up to $50,000.

“We need the public’s help,” said Williams. “This facility is good for Denton County and will help many people.”

Together with his team, Williams is gathering everything they’ve learned from this therapy that they’ve developed so that they can share with other non-profits and help even more trauma victims live a full and happy life. Recently RHR has been featured on Animal Planet and National Geographic channels.

“This is the best thing I’ve ever done, saving as many people and animals as possible,” said Williams. “I’m part of the solution now and I can honestly say this is a very good place to be.”


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