Ronald Campbell and Terry Abbott are always looking for more farm animals. The latest count at their Lakota Ladies Haven near Florence is eight chickens, one rooster, three goats, three dogs, four cats, two horses and a cockatoo.
But the animals are only there until they can be placed in good homes.
The couple started the shelter to rehabilitate abandoned farm animals after a car collided with a wandering horse in Three Points, 25 miles west of Tucson, in November, killing both the animal and the driver.
“We’d been thinking about setting up a rescue for quite a while, and when that happened, it was the straw that broke the back,” Campbell said. “We decided we had to do start doing something. We didn’t want to see the animals running loose, and we definitely didn’t want to see people getting hurt.”
The couple relocated in January to their current location in Cactus Forest, a community of about 600 people and plenty of animals southeast of Florence in Pinal County. The name of their shelter comes from Abbott’s email address and the fact that she is part Lakota.
Campbell said he and his wife have always been comfortable around animals. He grew up on a cattle ranch in northern Arizona, while Abbott was raised on a dairy farm. He also spent 10 years in Wyoming working as a predator control expert and said that in some ways he is more comfortable around animals than people.
“I lived in an 18-foot teepee out in the middle of the woods, and I’d spend 10 months of the year out there trapping animals,” Campbell said.
A rising number of farm animals are turned out each year by their owners. Sometimes, it’s a pet that a child no longer wants. Campbell said it’s often because someone can no longer afford to feed their animals or has run out of space to house them.
Campbell and Abbott said they see their animals as victims of the recession, and they intervene whenever they hear of such cases.
Abbott said their chickens came to them by way of a desperate craigslist post. The owner was offering the chickens for $8 each. Abbott offered her a tax write-off, but the owner said she needed the money, so Abbott and Campbell bought the chickens.
Lakota Ladies Haven is funded through donations. The shelter is a nonprofit corporation, a status Abbott said they worked hard to attain.
“There is a great need for this,” she said. “There are cat rescues, dog rescues, pig rescues and bird rescues but no farm animal rescues.”
The shelter has rehabilitated three horses in the past, which have since been introduced into new homes. Two horses currently reside in the corral, 3-year-old Spitfire and a 12- to 14-year-old Big Boy.
The couple said that when Big Boy first arrived, he spent a lot of time standing still and initially resisted contact with people, leading them to believe that he had been a show horse accustomed to living in a stall.
They added that now, with a companion and a regular supply of treats to eat, Big Boy has become less wary and more open to people.
Also at the shelter are Tiny the baby goat, Henry the rooster and Sweet Pea the hen.
Campbell said the dogs keep an eye on the goats, the goats mingle freely with the chickens and even the cats don’t dare try to start trouble.
Campbell and Abbott currently are seeking donations to go toward building new pens and corrals. They hope to eventually have enough room to accommodate over a half-dozen horses.
“We’re doing this on our own, with no government money, no grants or big funding, because we feel it needs to be done,” Abbott said.