Last Chance, First Love – Sanctuary provides ‘home’ to special needs and abused animals

Last Chance, First Love
Sanctuary provides ‘home’ to special needs and abused animals

Sunday, June 19, 2011 10:57 PM MST

There is one last chance for animal misfits at a sanctuary situated north of Kingman.
Last Chance Ranch Sanctuary owner Annie Burson, 54, of Kingman, spends her days tending to special needs or abused animals. And that includes the four-legged, the three-legged, the blind, the beaten, the broken, the neglected and the wheelchair-bound.
In all, there are nine dogs, seven cats and seven horses.
“All of them have been classified as un-adoptable,” Burson said. “I’m trying to give them a home environment so they know this is their home. And so they know they don’t have to live in a cage, they can live out the rest of their lives here.”
Burson’s rescue sanctuary is on 40 acres near Kingman. The property has been her home for 15 years.
“The reward is being able to take an animal that is having a near death experience, and being able to pull them out of it,” Burson said. “They seem to thrive off of each other. It’s amazing to watch.”
Hendrix is a 3-year-old German Shorthair sporting dog with a spinal cord injury. Burson acquired him after he had been in seven foster homes in 10 months.
“Now, he is doing very well,” Burson said. “He is starting to walk.”
Home video footage of Hendrix reviewed by Today’s News-Herald depicts the wheelchair-bound canine running and romping with his fellow pack members, despite the wheeled contraption affixed to his hips.
Hendrix runs about three or four miles each day on a nearby gravel road.
“You wouldn’t believe how fast he can move with that wheelchair,” Burson said. “The other dogs taught him to go off-road. And if he flips his wheelchair, he won’t cry or whine or bark … I had to get a GPS tracker for him.”
Sometimes while exploring rough terrain, Hendrix experiences technical difficulties that leave him laying and waiting, while tipped over, until someone rights his canine-wheelchair. And then he is on his way again.
“No, he doesn’t know he is any different,” Burson said.
Pathos the horse came to the sanctuary when he was about 2-years-old.
“Pathos is Greek for pity,” Burson said. “He was apparently pitiful when I got him.”
When he arrived at the sanctuary, he weighed 340 pounds — when he should’ve weighed 900 to 1,000 pounds. Despite his malnourishment, Pathos was lice-infested, there was no blood in and no meat on him, and his skin was starting to rot off his body, Burson said.
“Now he is 1,100 pounds,” she said. “He is one happy, gorgeous looking horse.”
Pathos is now about 5-years-old.
Radar and Cloe
Burson cares for seven cats. And two have no eyes at all.
Radar is the oldest and most ambitious of the blind felines.
“You would never know this cat has no eyes,” Burson said. “You can pick him up, walk around the house and put him down, and he knows right were he is.”
Radar also is able to swat a bird or a moth out of the air while investigating Burson’s enclosed backyard.
Cloe, younger, isn’t as accomplished. But she’s learning.
“When there are things on the counter, that cat (Cloe), she doesn’t miss a trick,” Burson said. “If I move something she is playing with to another part of the house, it is only a matter of time before she finds it again.”
Milo has an amputated right front leg.
“He was a used bait dog (during organized dog fights),” Burson said. “He was abused, starved and mistreated.”
When Milo arrived at Last Chance, his eyes were cloudy, which often happens to abused or neglected animals, Burson said.
“It knocks the spirit right out of them,” she said.
In Milo’s case, x-rays determined he had suffered five separate fractures at different times. None had been properly set and amputation was necessary.
“He was here about a week and he just watched (the other dogs and animals),” Burson said. “And soon his eyes were crystal clear, his tail wagging, and he was like ‘OK, let’s go play’.”
Day to Day
Each morning, Burson makes the rounds to feed all her animals and administers any medications they require. Then, the dogs run, play, chase rabbits before everyone settles in for a nap.
Each afternoon, Burson turns out the horses to get worked. In the summertime, they are hosed down everyday.
Last Chance is a non-profit organization that isn’t open to the public. Burson is fearful the opening would encourage people to begin dumping animals at will.
“I’m not like a rescue that adopts animals out and has a turnover,” she said. “I can go up to another six (animals), but trying to keep it where I can manage it.”
Burson’s pool of volunteers is slim to none.
“They either cry when they see Hendrix or just want to play with the horses, but they don’t want to do the work,” she said. “I would like to get the word out. Maybe somebody loves animals like I do and is willing to do the work.”
Burson said she dreams of transforming her sanctuary into a rehabilitation center to help educate pet owners about the best way to care for a special needs animal.
Vet bills are Burson’s biggest challenge because it is a continual thing, she said.
Burson used to work for a pest control company in Las Vegas, but caring for the animals at the sanctuary now takes all of her time.
“I take donations because I have to be here all the time,” she said. Burson’s art background helps her to pay the bills. She offers to paint watercolor portraits of people’s pets.
Donation can be mailed to Last Chance Ranch Sanctuary, c/o Annie Burson, P.O. Box 6763, Kingman, Ariz., 86402.
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