“As the founder and Director of Wild Heart Ranch wildlife rescue, Annette has helped tens of thousands of wild animals find their way home. ”
Annette began her venture to help wildlife 20 years ago. She didn't have plans to give up her freedom and care for the helpless and injured animals who were brought to her to save, but she didn't know how to turn her back. Since then she has forged her way through building the facilities to help more than 35,000 wild animals get back into the wild, healed and raised and ready to go. She funded the work for 12 years herself, working three jobs and raising a daughter (as well as caring for the animals with little help) before finally becoming a non profit and accepting funds from others.
In 2013 she was faced with either saving her home or her rescue mission. She chose to save the rescue. She knew that she would be okay and would somehow figure it all out for herself, but the animals would have no where to go if they lost their help. With help from a friend she managed to get a home for herself and then immediately tackled the monumental task of building an entire new facility (literally, day and night with a handful of helpers she was building) to hold hundreds of animals at a time, and she led the construction and found funding as she went. Within six weeks from starting the project, she moved the facility and was in full operation. She had given up the farm she had owned for 20 years and focused on the needs of the wildlife. It devastated her, but she never lost focus on the choice she made, nor does she regret making it. Today the rescue owns its own land and has a brand new facility and zero debt. She wanted to leave a legacy for future generations and know that the animals would always have their place to go, and it would never be lost to financial struggle.
Recently, in the same year as building the new rescue facility, she took on the monumental task of building a flight cage for bald eagles. The enormous cage is nearly completed, but already has its first inhabitant, a large female eagle recovering from a spinal injury, using the cage to recover. The cage represents her ability to now provide proper care for all species and all needs. I don't know how she does it. She doesn't receive any grants, corporate funding or large amounts. She just seems to find a way with the love and support from her 50,000 fans on Facebook and friends that help her. I would love to see how she would react to a $50,000 check! It would bring her to her knees! She so deserves to not worry about money for a little while, and have what she needs to do even more than she already does. She never slows down and she never gives up, and she inspires the people around her to do the same, myself included.
Her compassion and desire to help does not end with animals however. She takes on broken people as well. Many of her volunteers struggle with disabilities or depression. She gives them a purpose caring for animals that they can conquer and the results are life changing. I was one of those people and my life is now forever changed. She assists veterans with PTSD and helps them cope and heal through working with the animals and talking with her. I've seen her stay up all night talking to a veteran who needed to talk, and work a 15 hour shift caring for the animals the next day. There is rarely a need that crosses her path that she doesn't find a solution for. She has raised funds and supplies for other charities both for people and animals, and spends her Christmas shopping money on gifts for children in State and foster care. For her birthday each year, she asks for items for the homeless or domestic abuse shelters, and she is active in promoting homes for shelter animals as well, and has recently began plans for a facility for abused and neglected pets and horses. The list is endless. Funding in her hands creates a better life for others, period. Her mission is so deserving of this award!
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