Home On the Range Animal Haven has identified a new home: a 43-acre parcel located south of Laramie behind the Cavalryman Steakhouse.
There’s just one problem: The nonprofit doesn’t have the money to move in.
Home On the Range, Laramie’s only animal sanctuary, has been told it needs to vacate, as soon as possible, the land south of Laramie the nonprofit has called home since its creation in 2011.
Pam Brekken, vice president of the group, said the nonprofit will likely need to leave by October.
“Definitely before winter,” she said.
At a meeting Tuesday evening at the Eppson Center for Seniors, Home On the Range Director Deb Roberts said the nonprofit has $16,000 available from an ongoing fundraiser.
However, that’s not nearly enough to move to the new piece of land landowner Shane Swett has offered to lease to the nonprofit for just $1,000 a month.
The land doesn’t yet have utility hook-ups.
Connecting city water to the property is estimated to cost $6,000, electricity connection is estimated to be $2,000, and a septic system is priced at $5,000.
Those prices don’t include a gas hook-up and the cost to actually connect utility lines to buildings.
The major cost the nonprofit can’t afford is the buildings.
At the currently location, Roberts said the only buildings Home On the Range owns and will be able to take with it are three loafing sheds.
Home On the Range needs a barn for its seven donkeys, six goats, three horses, two ponies, one sheep and some chickens.
The nonprofit also needs a hay shelter, a living space for the nonprofit’s caretaker and an equipment shelter for a manure spreader, four-wheeler, riding mowers, push mowers, wheel barrows, shovels and rakes.
Roberts and Brekken hosted the Tuesday meeting at the Eppson Center to garner ideas from community members on how the nonprofit could establish enough funding to avoid closing.
After looking for a new location for about nine months, Brekken said the land behind Cavalryman is likely the best option Home On the Range will find.
“There’s good grass, and the owner will give us a good deal on leasing,” she said. “I don’t want to say this is our last chance, but it would be a good place for us to land, but we can’t do it alone. We don’t want to lose our animals or Home On the Range.”
One of the ideal parts of the proposed location is Swett is “willing and able to sign a long-term contract with us so we won’t end up in the situation where we are now,” Brekken said.
At the meeting, attendees and Home On the Range staff made one thing clear: If Home on The Range is to survive, it will need to organize an effective fundraising campaign that draws both small donations and perhaps the good will of local businesses.
At the Eppson Center meeting, attendees began putting together a list of local businesses with a propensity for philanthropy. One thing Home On the Range leaders are hoping for is the possibility that local individuals or businesses might be willing to donate materials to put together the needed infrastructure.
“It seems like people sometimes buy pole barn kits and then never do anything with them,” Roberts said. “Maybe they would be willing to donate them or maybe we could get them to sell them to us at a reasonable price.”
Local realtor Walt Hammontree said that, as Home On the Range looks for help from the community, the nonprofit needs to effectively communicate the benefits for both the animals and community members.
“You’re taking animals that are throwaways and nobody wants and you’re giving them a purpose and enriching lives,” he said. “That’s got to be worth something.”
Home On the Range takes in old, neglected, abused and abandoned animals.
The nonprofit’s mission is “returning the animals to sound physical, social and emotional health while providing a forever home and working with community organizations to enhance the well-being, sense of purpose and self-worth of its individuals.”
The sanctuary regularly hosts youth from the Cathedral Home for Children, as well as volunteers and clients from Peak Well Center, which provides counseling for youth.
Grade-schoolers will sometimes take field trips to learn about the animals, and the sanctuary also hosts those with intellectual disabilities and acquired brain injuries, via Ark Regional Services.
The Wyoming Cowboy ChalleNGe Academy, a quasi-military academy for 16- to 18-year-olds, will bring its cadets to Home On the Range to perform community service.
“Cadets work on everything from fencing, cleaning the barns, building structures, pulling weeds out of the pasture and any other task assigned,” the academy’s spokesperson, Christi Parrish, wrote in a letter. The hard work gives the cadets a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
When Roberts serves a home-cooked meal, Parrish said that, for some cadets, “it’s the first family-style meal they ever experienced.”
“Some of our cadets come from unfathomable backgrounds of neglect and abuse,” Parrish said. “The unconditional love they receive from the animals is absorbed and retained by the cadets and it lifts their spirits. The animals at (Home On the Range) recognize pain and sadness when humans don’t. It’s amazing how the cadets with the worst demons bond to the less social animals. The cadets talk and vent their problems to these loving animals and leave with a full heart.”
Parrish said the beauty of Home On the Range is “the love and joy of animal kinship with the struggling human to make both whole again.”
Since learning it will need to vacate its current property, Home On the Range has been raising funds at www.gofundme.com/save-this-animal-sanctuary.