A Anna Ryan

Seeing the Sunlight: How Kindness Ranch Animal Sanctuary Saves Lives

Mar 8, 2024

Kindness Ranch is a rescue center and sanctuary for former research animals. Since it was founded in 2006, Kindness Ranch has provided sanctuary to hundreds of animals, from cats and dogs to pigs and horses - and even llamas! In 2021, they reached a new record, having saved 100 beagles. On average, they provide over a hundred animals a day with food, love, shelter, and veterinary care.

We caught up with April Arrington, the Director of Communications at Kindness Ranch Animal Santuary, to find out more about what they do and how we can help them.

Kindness Ranch’s Mission

Kindness Ranch's mission involves working with laboratories, universities, and research facilities that release animals into their care once they’re done with experimentation and testing.

Once Kindness Ranch has rescued the animals, they rehabilitate the cats and dogs for adoption, and the farm animals get to live out their lives in peace in the sanctuary.

Seamus pulled the blanket over Maris to tuck her in.

[Source: Kindness Ranch’s Instagram account.]

The mission for compassion doesn’t come without its challenges. This is mainly due to the fact that animal testing is completely legal in the US (and other countries around the world). In fact, many countries have government regulations that actually require toxicity testing on animals. It’s estimated that the main countries notorious for animal testing are China, Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. As of right now, there are tens of thousands of laboratories, universities, and research facilities in the United States alone that are testing on animals.

“[One of] the main obstacles we face is securing partnerships and relationships with these laboratories,” April told us. “It’s a very confidential and secretive industry. Even though we sign all the NDAs, and all the confidentiality agreements [...] we have to really gain the trust of these research facilities to let them release the animals to us.” This is why Kindness Ranch takes a non-political stance in the fight against animal testing – it’s their care and compassion for the animals alone that manage to secure their freedom.

The challenges Kindness Ranch faces don’t stop at the facilities. Another problem comes from rehabilitating the animals who have just been released from testing. “Some of the dogs have never been around other dogs before so they don’t understand social cues. Same with cats and same with the farm animals. [...] Sometimes they are just completely isolated, and so we have a big job of rehabilitating them here at our sanctuary before they go into their forever home.”

Kevin, the mischievous goat.

[Source: Kindness Ranch’s Instagram account.]

“They may have never seen another animal before; they don’t know how to walk on a leash; they’ve never had a collar on; they’ve never seen sunlight; they’ve never felt the grass beneath their feet. We have a really big job of introducing them to all the wonders of the world.”

But that creates another challenge, as introducing them to the world can be intimidating. “They can come [out of the facility] really fearful and anxious, but we overcome it, and that’s why we exist – to rehabilitate them and give them the best life possible.”

Kindness Ranch takes great care to provide a home-like environment in its sanctuary so its animals feel safe and loved. “We have dog yurts that we put all the dogs in, and they live 24/7 with a caretaker,” April said. This ensures that all the animals in the sanctuary can get the individual support and care they need.

Seeing Sunlight for the First Time

With all the work that Kindness Ranch does, it comes as no surprise that there is an abundance of amazing stories to be told about the animals in the sanctuary. But over the years, there are a few that have stood out for the Kindness Ranch team in particular.

“Last summer, we rescued four former research animals that were actually sold to the illegal Chinese meat trade once they were done being tested on in China,” April said. “We worked with an organization over there that showed us the four dogs and asked if we would be able to help. Of course, we said we would, so we raised the funds and brought them over.

There are always a few dogs in each rescue group that come out of the van just ready for life and ready to get their freedom started, but all four of these dogs [...] were so incredibly happy – bouncing and jumping for joy, never having seen grass and sunlight.

They already had this insane passion and zest for life and it was just incredibly touching. It was just so memorable because it was around July 4th, our Independence Day, and so we were really celebrating freedom at the time. All four of them had the biggest personalities and we had never really seen that before. You might get one with a big personality in each rescue group, but all four of these guys were just absolutely incredible. We were just so thankful we were able to rescue them.”

Rowena and Rupert enjoy their freedom.

[Source: Kindness Ranch’s Instagram account.]

“One of our most vital moments last year was when we rescued a horse from animal research,” April recounted. “We got him to our sanctuary, we took him out of the horse trailer and we let him go in a pasture. It brought tears to everyone at the sanctuary – our staff and even on social media.”

Life After Liberation

After the dogs and cats have found their forever home, Kindness Ranch likes to keep in touch.

“The best thing for us to see (and for our supporters to see) is the updates on the animals they have helped. We get a little rescue group that has been released to us, and we post their videos, photos, and bios [on social media].

[We’ll rescue] a really timid, shy beagle or kitty cat, and then a year, two years, four years down the line, the adoptor will send us updates on them. It’s just incredible to see the transformation. And that’s what makes it worthwhile for us. That’s what makes it magical for donors to see.”

The Beagles cuddling up in -9 weather.

[Source: Kindness Ranch’s Instagram account.]

How You Can Get Involved

There’s a lot you can do to get involved with Kindness Ranch and help rescued animals. “We’re always looking for donations, volunteers, adopters, fosterers,” April told us. “You can come and take a vacation out here, volunteer [...] or you can meet a dog and possibly adopt them.

We also ask for donations because we get no government funding and so we rely strictly on the donations of kind individuals and supporters. We don’t have really big donors – we’re the people’s organization because they support us.”

Pet Portraits and Kindness Ranch: Art With Impact

Pet Portraits art

At Pet Portraits, we’re a community of animal lovers. That’s why we donate five meals to Kindness Ranch for every single pet portrait we sell, helping to feed animals who have been rescued from laboratories, universities, and testing facilities.

Our clients can rest assured that not only are they getting a beautiful custom portrait of their beloved pet, but they’re also helping other animals around the US, whether that’s farm animals who are finally living safe and sound in the sanctuary, or cats and dogs who are getting ready to go to their forever homes.

And because animal testing is still legal in the US, there’s still a lot of work to be done.That’s why we’ll continue to make art with impact.