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Pets 101

Local Hero – Chasing the Rainbow

Rainbow RanchA lifelong dream helps the animals at Rainbow Ranch

Debi Baker, fifty-six, fulfilled a childhood dream when she started the Rainbow Ranch project nearly ten years ago. Baker saw it as a way of giving back to the animals that had given her so much and helped her make a living for thirty-five years through professional dog training.

“When I was five years old, I told my mom I was going to have a ranch, and I was going to call it the ‘Rainbow Ranch’,” says Baker. “I finally got here a few years ago. So I’ve been chasing this rainbow a really long time!”

Rainbow Ranch is the home base for Recycling Rover Adoption Assistance, Baker’s rescue and adoption program, as well as Shelter Alliance, a program that provides animal supplies to other shelters and rescues, and a feral cat program.

Rainbow RanchThe Shelter Alliance program was created two years ago through the resources and contacts Baker had made in the pet industry. Once a week, Baker and her small team of volunteers visit several warehouses and pick up nearly $40,000 worth of pet supplies–anything from chew bones and grooming supplies, to medications–and give them away to around 300 shelters and rescue organizations.

“It’s an incredible thing,” she says. “Right now I think we’re the only people doing something like this in the country–which is cool. I love that part of it, it’s like being Santa Claus all the time.”

The ranch, a 115-year-old farm, is the permanent residence for nearly forty animals–dogs, cats, birds, horses, goats, sheep, and even a llama–as well as a temporary home for the countless number of animals that come in through the adoption program.

“I think the biggest reward is knowing that in some small way, we’re making a difference. We’re putting a dent in the rescue world,” she says proudly. “This is my mission, it’s my passion. It’s why I’m here on the planet. I love these animals.”

With a book on the way, a television pilot in post-production, and an Internet radio program in the works, Baker shows no signs of slowing down. The title of all three projects? Chasing the Rainbow.

To learn more about Rainbow Ranch, visit PetFinder.com/Shelters/MO132.html

–Susanne Falenczykowski

Rainbow Ranch

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