Big Dog Ranch Rescue has opened its new facility in Loxahatchee Groves designed specifically with the health, comfort and happiness of the dogs in mind.
The shelter was born from CEO Lauree Simmons' love and commitment.
"Our dreams for these dogs is finally becoming a reality," she said. "At our new campus, we have optimized every single aspect of the rescue experience and every day we get closer to our ultimate goals and vision."
Air-conditioned bunk houses contain rooms that are home to pups of all ages and sizes. Cages, wires, and bars found in many rescues are absent and the noise level is greatly reduced. The living quarters offer window views of large exterior play areas and feature seamless floors to discourage the growth of bacteria and viruses. Rooms are available for sponsorships and naming rights to those who wish to support the organization.
When a benefactor provides funding for a room, that space will display murals designated by the sponsor and rendered by volunteer artists. The name of the contributor and the artist is displayed outside the bunk room door. The rescue is seeking artists who are willing to give their time toward the project. There are also many sponsorship opportunities within the veterinary center and the intake/quarantine buildings.
Outside the bunk houses are fully-enclosed spaces in which animals romp on artificial turf, relax in shaded areas and take dips in a doggie pool. It's an area of great importance in socializing the dogs and teaching them appropriate behavior with people and with each other.
Simmons has taken the shelter from 14 rescued dogs in her garage in 2008 to housing up to 425 dogs on a 33-acre tract at 14444 Okeechobee Blvd.
"We are thankful for the help and support of so many generous donors and volunteers who are making Big Dog Ranch Rescue the happiest place on earth for dogs transitioning from homeless to forever homes," she said.
When all building phases are complete, the facility's new home will include a quarantine area for new arrivals, on-site veterinary facilities, separate space for pregnant and nursing dogs, and educational quarters in which the public can learn about responsible pet ownership.
Four years ago, Claudia and Thomas Harden visited the shelter, their hearts set on finding a large dog because they are less adoptable. A black pit bull and Labrador mix caught their attention.
"He seemed frightened and was trying to hide from another dog," Claudia Harden said.
There was an immediate connection and they brought the dog into their loving family. The Hardens are grateful to the shelter and, she said, "We cannot imagine what our life would be like without Bubba and we thank Big Dog Ranch Rescue daily for taking him in and caring for him while he waited for his forever home."
Staff and volunteers are constantly busy, yet always make time to give the praise and petting the animals crave. Taking in dogs is a long-term commitment and there is no time limit on an animal's stay. Adoption manager Deanna Andrews said, "No matter how long it takes, there is a home for every dog and we will do what it takes to ensure a forever family."
Visit bdrr.org or call 561-791-6465.