Christian County woman opens her home and heart for unwanted animals
Many local city and county governments run programs to take care of abandoned and mistreated pets. But some individuals take it upon themselves to fight that battle as well.
In a remote area in Christian County not far from Sparta is a home for wayward animals. The Reasons Rescue Ranch owned by Rita Reasons who rides across her 60 acres with a merry band of followers who help feed and care for over 40 horses, a dozen dogs, plus cats, chickens, and just about anything else that was unwanted, lost, or mistreated.
"Miss Rita is one of the most kind-hearted people I know," said Fred Woehl, who works with a wild mustang organization out of Harrison, Arkansas. "You come over here any time and they'll be 10 maybe 15 kids here playing with these horses. And she has a heart of gold."
Go in her house and you see how at home they all feel. Go the barn and see their human-like qualities of unlatching the door to their stall on their own. And go on Rita's Facebook to see just how much they're treated like humans right down to the donkey with a bra for sunglasses.
"That was the day of the eclipse," Rita explained. "And we weren't supposed to look up at the sun. And I just had the bright idea to do that."
There's a story everywhere you turn out here. Like the maneqin on the front porch named Piper who used to be the first rider on the wild mustangs brought here.
"One day she bucked off really bad," Rita said. "So now she's retired and she sits on my porch and watches things."
Now it's the girls who help break and tame the wild horses like Cochise, who you'd never know was once a wild mustang from Nevada.
"He's kicking and he did not like me at first for sure," laughed Helen Vernig,one of the volunteers. "It makes you feel like you've accomplished something in life."
It's obvious there are some deep bonds between the humans and animals on this ranch.
"As soon as I met her me and her got a really, really, big connection," said 8 year-old Alyssa Gipson. "And whenever she was born, we instantly fell in love."
Bonds that are sealed with a kiss. And lifelong stubborn friendships.
"She is a mule and she is one of my best friends," explained volunteer Caroline Soriano. "I can kinda just feel it. It's beyond words. It's wonderful. It's really fun."
"Horses and donkeys and mules, they really do love kids," Rita added. "I think they love kids better than grown-ups. They just love being together. It's good for both of 'em."
But it's also good for Miss Rita too. As a widow, she's found a new family.
"I'm never lonely, there's so much company," she said.
And the feeling is mutual.
"It's definitely changed my life," said volunteer Emma Hedrick. "From me not being able to do anything and dreaming of what I can do when I get older."
Maybe someday she'll continue Miss Rita's legacy that's needed now more than ever.
"There's so many people that don't want animals anymore so it has gotten worse," Rita said. "It's just something that I have to do. I wouldn't be happy."
And neither would the animals.
If you would like to make a donation to the ranch, you can go to Rita Reasons Facebook page. Click