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Dogs evacuated from the West Bank come to Wyoming

A dog leans against a person as they, and other person, smile and give it pets.
John Ramer
/
The Kindness Ranch
Meezan the dog

John Ramer, the executive director of the Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary, led me to the loudest part of the Kindness Ranch, the intake area for newly rescued animals.

“This is our intake area for all of the new dogs and sometimes occasional farm animals, this is where they come for decompression,” Ramer explained.

Some 70 West Bank rescued dogs were flown across the Atlantic Ocean, ending up at different shelters across the country. It’s a taxing journey for any animal, but for 10 of these dogs, their trip ended here in Wyoming at The Kindness Ranch, an animal sanctuary tucked into flat, grassy lands on Wyoming’s eastern plains.

Upon entering the intake area, some dogs hid, some jumped up and barked. But Meezan, a blond three-legged dog, perked up with joy, her tail wagging. She was doing well for a dog who was living at sea-level days prior. Meezan and the nine other dogs came to Wyoming from a West Bank rescue called Daily Hugz.

“Some I'm aware of, there were feral street dogs, some were found begging and then taken to Maad’s rescue,” said Ramer.

Maad is the name of the Palestinian-American who owned and operated the Daily Hugz rescue before they had to evacuate all the animals.

And he did the absolute best that he could. But then as the unrest [began] to escalate over there, there was power rationing, which, when you're on a well, results in water rationing as well,” said Ramer.

Maad reached out to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Acting as a parent organization to the entire rescue operation, SPCA contacted people like Maggie Mcguane, director of disaster response for Wings of Rescue. That’s an organization that focuses on the placement of rescued animals in shelters across the U.S. They were a perfect fit for the job.

“We haven't worked with Kindness Ranch before. But they have a stellar reputation in the world,” said Mcguane.

The reputation comes from Kindness Ranch’s history of working with severely traumatized animals, like retired animals rescued from testing and research. McGuane knew the most physically hurt or psychologically damaged dogs should go to the ranch. Dogs like Susu, who retreats to her corner at the sight of humans. She’ll need special care and rehabilitation. Mcguane worked out the logistics to have them taken to Kindness Ranch.

“This has been by far the most breathtaking series of logistical decisions that have had to be made that I've ever seen in my life,” said Mcguane. “It was not something that any of the organizations were fundraising to do, like everyone just did it.”

It was already a massive undertaking for staff at the Daily Hugz rescue to prepare the dogs and their medical information for transport. Once in America, they still had the logistics of food, hand-offs, and a maze of bureaucratic red tape. But in just three months, they managed to bring all of the dogs from Daily Hugz to the United States. Ramer said the entire process was complex but the work had to be done.

To schedule the trip to New York to be with the dogs and assess them... with complications of border security, and then intake through Customs and Border Patrol coming into America... it was just a bunch of last minute hurdles,” said Ramer.

Ultimately, all 70 dogs have arrived at their shelters. And the 10 at the Kindness Ranch are now in the hands of long-term, passionate and experienced caretakers, like Howard Goldman, the animal companion manager at the ranch.

The rehabilitation process is ongoing,” explained Goldman. “In the early stages, we're trying to get the dogs used to a routine, when they go outside in the morning, getting them used to wearing harnesses and leading on a leash.”

Goldman said the ranch will care for these animals as long as needed. Some of these dogs may have had too much physical or mental trauma to be adopted, like Susu. Some may spend their whole lives at the Sanctuary under the care of professionals. Regardless of their status, Goldman spends his time socializing inside the cage and out in the field with each of the West Bank dogs.

One of the things that surprised me is how gentle they are. All they've been through before they were in the shelter in the times that they were in the West Bank. And they're still extremely gentle and still very appreciative. It's amazing how resilient they are,” said Goldman.

For now, most of the dogs will continue acclimating to the wind and snow of Wyoming. But dogs like Meezan, the three-legged speed machine, are already showing signs of trust. Goldman believes it won’t be long before some of these dogs could be ready for permanent homes in Wyoming.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.
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