North Texas Daily

Animal sanctuary provides rehabilitation for both humans and farm life

Animal sanctuary provides rehabilitation for both humans and farm life

One of the horses the Ranch Hand Rescue has saved lies down in the grass after being fed. Madison Gore

Animal sanctuary provides rehabilitation for both humans and farm life
September 13
19:13 2017

A hesitant child approaches a horse, holds out his hand and waits to earn the animal’s trust. The horse takes a step closer to the boy, sensing his anxiety, his depression and his loneliness.

They have each experienced a pain only each other understands.

This is the beginning of the type of relationship created at Ranch Hand Rescue.

Established in 2008 by Bob Williams, Ranch Hand Rescue in Argyle is both a sanctuary for abused and neglected animals and a counseling center for patientsespecially childrenwho cannot be helped with typical therapy.

“The clients that come here typically have been somewhere else, and they’re not getting better,” Williams said. “They’re referred to us as an alternative way of treating to try to get to the root of the trauma.”

Between getting diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 1997 and having a stroke 10 years later, Williams went through several therapy and rehabilitation sessions of his own.

Nothing seemed to have such a profound impact on him as working with mistreated animals did.

“An abused and neglected animal can sense an abused and neglected person,” Williams said. “It can sense that there is pain there.”

Thus began his mission to help people and animals simultaneously.

Williams founded Ranch Hand Rescue so people could connect with animals and develop those relationships in the same way he did.

“Each individual gets to pick the animal they work with, but usually the animal picks them,” Williams said. “There’s a bond that’s formed between each animal and each client, and that bond can’t be broken. That’s where the magic is.”

According to Williams, bonding with the animals helps people in a way that traditional therapy sessions may not be able to.

“Many people, especially kids, will tell an animal something before they will tell an adult in a traditional office environment,” Williams said. “We’ve actually had kids who have told a horse they were sexually abused.”

Ranch supervisor Chris Maples experienced this strong therapeutic connection first hand, as well. He started working for Ranch Hand Rescue after medically retiring from the army and getting diagnosed with PTSD and depression.

Seeing clients recover through their relationships with the animals made Maples truly believe that he, too, could be healed.

“When I got here, I was broken,” Maples said. “I wasn’t sure how to be human. It was inspiring to see people regain their lives, and it inspired me to at least try.”

Maples was originally approached by a donkey named Moon Dancer who suffered from eye cancer, and their relationship blossomed from day one.

“In that first moment, there was a bond, and when I came back later, we were still connected,” Maples said.

His main duties are to look after the animals and assist with sessions, but Maples also runs a veterans group so others have the chance to recover from PTSD and anxiety the same way he did.

“Veterans want to talk to somebody who knows what they went through,” Williams said.

Working for Ranch Hand Rescue has given Maples the chance to reconnect with nature, humanity and, above all, himself. He hopes that his experience, as well as those of others, will inspire potential clients to give their counseling center a chance.

“This is real,” Maples said. “There is hope. There is a chance to recover.”

Just like the clients, the animals Ranch Hand Rescue takes in receive a second chance at happiness. From miniature horses and donkeys to goats and llamas, any animal that has suffered mistreatment is brought in and rehabilitated.

“The fact that we save these animals and give them a life is beyond important to me,” Maples said. “Then we use that to help human beings regain their lives. All sides of life are taken care of.”

They follow the same philosophy when it comes to clients.

Whether the client is a veteran suffering from PTSD or a young victim of abuse, Ranch Hand Rescue vows to help anyone who walks through their doors.

“A victim is a victim,” Williams said. “We’re all just people. We should be helping each other.”

Melody Nance, a proud supporter of Ranch Hand Rescue, loves the impact that the counseling sessions have had on her grandson, who is diagnosed with autism, ODD, ADHD, anxiety and anger issues.

“I absolutely love Ranch Hand Rescue,” Nance said. “My grandson gained so much confidence with his counselor, and I’m so glad there are people there who believe in him.”

Williams said he plans to expand to other cities in the metroplex in the near future and possibly even nationwide.

“We’re already sold out here, so we definitely need more locations,” Williams said. “I think this could go national without any issue.”

One aspect of Ranch Hand Rescue Williams is especially proud of is that they have a Spanish-speaking counselor as well. They are able to take in a larger variety of people, further proving they will not turn away anyone who comes to them for help.

“My passion is for victims,” Williams said. “Just because someone doesn’t speak English doesn’t mean they’re not just as important as somebody else.”

Featured Image: A horse the Ranch Hand Rescue rescued lies down in the grass after being fed. Madison Gore

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Ashlee Winters

Ashlee Winters

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