Big Sky Ranch made the difficult decision last week to close their doors to the public for the rest of the year. Established in 2002 by owner Andy Parent, Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary quickly grew into a refuge for unwanted and abused animals. Over the past 18 years, they have helped over 3,500 domestic animals of all shapes and sizes achieve a happy outcome through their rehabilitation and adoption programs.
Andy says they made the decision to close the Ranch to visitors for the rest of 2020 due to COVID-19. He does not have the resources needed to make sure the Ranch is safe for visitors. “I’d have to hire at least ten people to walk around and clean the place.”
According to Andy, closing the Ranch to the public was their way of supporting the fight against the spread of COVID-19. “We want to make sure that people stay safe and we don’t add to the spread,” he says. “Thousands of people have lost their lives.”
Big Sky Ranch depends on donations from visitors to help care for the animals. They also had to cancel their popular Summer Camp this year, which normally helps to buy enough hay for the animals into the winter. Despite the lost revenue, they still have many bills to pay to support the 119 animals that are currently in their care. “We still have to feed the animals,” Andy says. “We are doing our best.”
While he understands that this is a difficult time for many, Andy hopes that Big Sky Ranch will remain top of mind for people looking to support a local organization. The Ranch, he says, is a place that was very much built by community support. Big Sky Ranch would not be what it is today without financial support from the community and the hard work of their many dedicated volunteers. “This place has been built by a community,” Andy says. “I’m not the owner, I’m just the gatekeeper.”
Donations can be made through their website (www.bigskyranch.ca) or by cheque made out to Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary.