Located in Napa Valley, California just north of San Francisco, is the Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch, also called JARR. Monica and David Stevens founded the animal sanctuary in 2014. With hundreds of volunteers and a staff of 18, they’re a no-kill, non-profit animal sanctuary for domestic and farmed animals.
Finding homes for dogs and cats–and re-homing the occasional pig–is just the tip of the iceberg for this rescue ranch. JARR offers outreach programs to help seniors who need help caring for pets. Their outreach programs also provide services to low-income families who can’t afford spaying or neutering. Additionally, they re-home animals when their owners pass away or get too sick to give care. And the good work they do doesn’t stop there, either.
If you look around their website, you may read about Ernestine, a miniature donkey who was in need of a hysterectomy. Her owner could not afford the costly operation, and the poor donkey almost certainly faced euthanasia. JARR stepped in and offered financial assistance. As a result, Ernestine is alive and thriving today.
And that’s just one example of the many, many animals they’ve helped. Their website is also full of inspiring stories and people doing incredible, selfless work, and you can read more success stories. I was glad to have the opportunity to interview Monica about her work at JARR and the animals they help.
A Dog Named Jameson, A Legacy
Monica cares deeply about the animals that JARR takes in. That concern for animals started well before the ranch even existed. In fact, you can see her love for all creatures in every part of the ranch, right down to its name, which serves as a lasting legacy for a cherished dog. It makes sense that a ranch named after a beloved pooch would do so much for animals, especially dogs, in need. I asked Monica about the origins of JARR and how many dogs get care from this special place.
JULIA: Where did the name Jameson come from?
MONICA: Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch was named in honor of my Great Pyrenees rescue dog, Jameson. I moved with him from Chicago to the Napa Valley in 2006 where he lived to the beautiful age of 14. Very unusual for a Great Pyrenees to live that long.
JULIA: How many dogs live on site?
MONICA: At any given time, we have three to five dogs on site that live in enclosures–not chain-link kennels–with two to three beds, indoor/outdoor access, and three walks per day. I am not a proponent of keeping dogs on site at the ranch. Rescued dogs decompress, respond to love, kindness, and care, and present best in a home environment.
We prefer to place our dogs in foster homes whenever possible, as many dogs have been in the shelter system or living in poor conditions, so they need and deserve extra love and care to bounce back from the potentially negative situation they have been in. A foster home allows them to decompress more, and they can learn how to be a dog again. We have found that their true personalities begin to shine when they spend time in a loving home, which greatly increases their chances of being adopted!
We are a solutions-based organization. Our focus, moreover, for dogs will be concentrated on ways we can, as an organization, support households that have a dog with a behavior issue through access to complimentary training videos, camps, etc. all across the nation and world! Why not? Our goal is to keep dogs out of shelters and with their families!
Adopt (DON’T SHOP) A Pet From JARR!
One way JARR helps animals in need is by adopting out pets who are looking for forever homes. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a new pet, the ranch can help find a wonderful animal addition to your home. I asked Monica how people can adopt a pet from JARR and how to meet these animals in person. I also asked why people should adopt instead of buying a purebred animal from a breeder.
JULIA: You have so many beautiful dogs and cats on your page available for adoption. Do you host any events for people thinking about adding a fur baby to their family?
MONICA: People can meet our dogs at the weekly Napa Farmers Market. We also hold additional adoption events throughout the year. If people are interested in adopting one of our cats, they can view them on our website and make arrangements to visit them at The Ranch!
JULIA: What is Ella’s CatHouse At The Ranch?
MONICA: Ella’s CatHouse at the Ranch is our adoption center for cats. We recently moved our cat adoption center called Ella’s CatHouse & Catnip Bar from downtown Napa to The Ranch and changed the name accordingly. If people are interested in adopting one of our gorgeous cats, we ask that they complete the application available on our website, then a staff member will contact them to set up a visit! Ella’s is not open to the public, but appointments for adopters can be made daily from 11 am to 3 pm.
JULIA: What would you tell a person who’s considering buying a dog or cat from a breeder?
MONICA: I’m quite sure your readers are aware of just how many millions of helpless cats and dogs are euthanized each year in our shelter system. All animals deserve a loving forever home, but when dogs, especially, are bred and sold for profit, it means a dog who truly needs a home doesn’t get it.
There really is no justification for perpetuating dog breeding while we have so many sweet homeless animals that get euthanized every year. There are plenty of special breed dogs and cats that end up in the shelter system or in rescues. Almost all dog breeds have a breed-specific rescue! If you are looking for a purebred dog or cat please adopt, don’t shop.
Beyond Just Dogs And Cats
JARR may take its name from a dog. However, the ranch provides care to many other types of animals beyond the typical dog-or-cat house pets. I wanted to know what other kinds of animals JARR supports and what kind of help they offer.
JULIA: What types of farm animals do you have at JARR?
MONICA: Our ranch currently houses chickens, sheep, horses, and pigs.
JULIA: I read the story about Ernestine, the miniature donkey, in need of a costly hysterectomy. She most probably faced euthanasia until you stepped in. How exactly did that come about?
MONICA: Ernestine was suffering from a rare uterine infection, which almost killed her. Her owner Nancy did not have the funds to pay for an expensive full hysterectomy at UC Davis. She resigned herself to taking care of Ernestine in her stable until she succumbed to her condition.
Her vet, Dr. Sonder, stepped in and called us, and of course, we could not say no to sweet Ernestine. With some help from the doctors at UC Davis and a pledge for financial help from us, Ernestine was transported to UC Davis and had the emergency surgery that saved her life. This is the important work we were born to do!
Volunteering And Fundraising Make The Dream A Reality
A non-profit organization needs resources to keep providing care and resources to so many animals and their humans. Luckily, volunteers give their time and talent to support JARR’s cause, and fundraisers help those who cannot volunteer to give assistance financially. I wanted to know a bit more about how people who want to get involved in JARR’s mission can contribute.
JULIA: What types of fundraising do you do?
MONICA: Though we are active in multiple platforms, our most successful fundraising is our annual event, WineaPAWlooza, which takes place in July in the Napa Valley. The event operates thanks to many generous community partners including local vintners and restaurants and is a highlight of our year. 2019 will mark our sixth year of WineaPAWlooza!
We also write grants, do appeals throughout the year, with an extra push during the holiday season. If people wish to help do a fundraiser for JARR, we have a whole page dedicated to ways of doing that on our website. We deeply appreciate the immense fundraising support–of all kinds–that we are fortunate enough to receive!
JULIA: I saw that people can volunteer at JARR. How does that work? Also, what types of activities can volunteers sign up for?
MONICA: We could not do what we do without our core of dedicated volunteers! After interested folks complete our online application form, they will be contacted by our volunteer manager, Heather Leake. Depending on their volunteer focus and experience, they’ll need to complete training before helping with an array of needs: from feeding and cleaning our farm animals at the ranch, to support at our events, such as tabling, at the weekly farmers market, to working at our community information center.
Volunteers can even help with some of our key programs like the Senior Citizen Pet Wellness Program, where they can visit with seniors and their pets who are part of the program. Our most urgent need for volunteers is for our foster program. The more people we have active in our volunteer base for fostering, the more animals we can save!
Helping The Community Care For Their Animals
JARR is, of course, focused on helping animal lovers keep their non-human family members safe and in their homes. They do so by providing special resources to members of the community through their outreach events. I asked Monica what’s coming up for JARR’s outreach programs.
JULIA: Do you have any Community Outreach events coming up?
MONICA: We do! We are so excited about our upcoming free community vaccination, microchip and spay/neuter voucher clinics. We were incredibly lucky to receive a very generous donation from Napa Valley local philanthropist, Beverly Wendel in memory of her animal-loving late husband, Barry Wendel. This donation enabled us to do a successful matching gift campaign to fund three clinics to help our low-income community, homeless, and veterans keep their pets healthy and to stem the tide of overpopulation of cats and dogs.
The first clinic of 2019 will be held in Napa on MLK day, Monday, January 21st. The second will be held on March 10th, at the American Canyon Senior Center. The third will be held in Lake County. a low-income community in need of help with their animals. The exact details of that clinic are TBD. More information about our clinics are available on our website’s calendar!
Peace Of Mind Society And Senior Citizen Pet Wellness Programs
Two special programs offered at JARR stand out. The first, Peace of Mind Society (POMS) helps those who worry about what will happen to their animals if they can no longer provide care. The second, the Senior Citizen Pet Wellness Program, helps seniors provide their animals with the care they need. I wanted to know more about these important programs.
JULIA: I read about POMS. I have never heard of this before. In case an animal outlives their human, JARR assists in their re-homing. This is a great idea. How can more rescues implement this? Also, does it have to be in the pet owner’s will?
MONICA: We would be delighted if other rescues could implement this program by using our program as a model. We have found that a large number of the cats and dogs we get contacted about for re-homing need help because their humans have either passed away or are entering assisted care living.
With some pre-planning through our POMS program, it can lessen the stress for owners and their families at this very difficult time. Often, the animals are also seniors who can have many challenges getting re-homed through the traditional shelter system. And yes, directives and directions for JARR, upon the death of the person, need to be in the owner’s will.
JULIA: You offer a Senior Pet Wellness program. Please tell me more about that.
MONICA: The Senior Citizen Pet Wellness Program is one of our most successful and profound programs. We partner with Napa County Meals on Wheels to identify seniors in need of help with their pets. The seniors give up their own food or medication needs to feed their pets, and so this program helps those that are the most vulnerable.
We currently provide pet food, cat litter, flea medication, veterinary medical expense assistance, pet grooming, and dog walking. By offering this sort of support, it’s a win-win for everyone concerned! It helps to keep the pet companion and senior guardian together, and it keeps animals out of the shelter so they can continue to provide much needed companionship and love to seniors who are often lonely.
Spaying And Neutering To Save Animals
One of the best ways to keep animals out of animal shelters is to spay or neuter pets. However, not everyone has the means or information to take this important step in pet ownership. JARR offers spaying and neutering assistance to those who have trouble affording the procedure. I asked Monica more about spaying and neutering and what JARR has to offer.
JULIA: You have a spay/neuter program for people who need financial assistance. How does that work?
MONICA: We assist people with cats and dogs who do not have the income to pay for a spay/neuter surgery through our Community Animal Assistance Program and through our annual clinics. We provide a voucher for people to take their pets to local low cost spay/neuter clinics in the ten-county area we service.
Julia: How do you help people understand why spaying and neutering their pets is so important?
Monica: At all of our clinics, we have veterinarians and vet techs on-hand who speak with people about the importance of spaying/neutering their pets. Of course, the main reason to make sure your pets cannot breed is overpopulation. With millions of animals euthanized every year, it is imperative that people spay/neuter their pets to help reduce this pointless suffering.
Preparing Animal Lovers For Natural Disasters
As Monica mentioned, one of the goals of JARR is to keep animals in their homes with humans who can love and care for them. Part of the strategy to take on that goal includes educating owners on proper care and preparedness. Over the past year, we’ve seen many homes, especially in JARR’s home state of California, destroyed by wildfires. The disasters tore animals and their families apart. I asked Monica what people with farm animals should do to prepare for such a horrific event.
JULIA: Your website has quite a wealth of incredible stories and information. I also saw that you have tips for animal disaster preparedness. I don’t think anyone was prepared for the fires in Malibu. What would be your number one disaster preparedness tip for people with farm animals?
MONICA: We have learned so much during the past few years dealing with the Northern California wildfires, and the unfortunate evidence suggests that climate change will continue to make wildfires more intense and frequent. The number one tip I would advise is to PLAN AHEAD.
Moving a large number of farm animals takes time and preparation, so you must create an effective disaster evacuation plan, have reliable trailer transportation available, and the ability to shelter in place. In the event that you cannot evacuate all of your large animals, have a secondary shelter plan hashed out, and practice it. Make sure you have a trailer–or quick access to a trailer–that has regular maintenance checks, and make sure your truck is filled with gas!
Love Animals? JARR Has Vegan Advice
The ranch provides care to many animals, including farm animals often raised for consumption. Many animal lovers want to reduce suffering for these creatures by switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet. However, this is often easier said than done, and many don’t know where to start or how to do it safely. I asked Monica for some advice for those who want to make the switch to a meat-free lifestyle.
JULIA: You have a lot of vegan information on your website. What advice would you give a person who’s considering going vegetarian or vegan?
MONICA: I would first suggest people do plenty of research to get some ideas on the proteins needed to properly replace the animal products within their diet. These days, there are hundreds of reliable plant-based blogs chock-full of recipe ideas, meal planning, and nutrition facts. A few of my favorites: My New Roots, The Minimalist Baker, The First Mess, and Oh She Glows.
Another great step is getting a free vegan/vegetarian starter kit from one of the many animal welfare organizations like Vegan Outreach. In addition, there’s a great organization, Veganury, that supports people who want to try being vegan for January and for the rest of the year. Once implemented, be sure to discuss your dietary changes with your doctor and get annual blood tests to check your iron and B12 levels!
A Vision For The Future
JARR’s mission is, as you may have guessed, ongoing. For the ranch to continue and provide as much care to animals as possible, it needs a strong mission plan going forward. I asked Monica about 2019 and what’s going to happen at JARR in the future.
JULIA: I think your ranch and entire operation is pretty incredible. What is your vision for the future? Also, what do you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?
Monica: Great question–we have made NO small plans!
We believe in thinking differently and holistically in order to find more effective solutions to endemic problems plaguing the domestic animal world, such as overpopulation, neglect, cruelty, etc.
The way we do this is through collaboration and strategic partnerships with subject matter specialists, educators, government agencies, and business leaders, and being the change, ourselves. JARR is a holistic and sustainable organization representing the voice of the animals.
JARR has five “Moon Shot” Programs that we will focus on for 2019 and beyond, including these two that I can share with you now:
- National Spay / Neuter solutions and programs
- JARR Dog and Cat behavior institute for education: euthanasia most commonly is a result of behavior issues due to lack of knowledge of the humans.
Follow JARR And Show Your Support
This no-kill, non-profit animal sanctuary is next level. With the help of a staff and so many volunteers, Monica and David Stevens have accomplished so much and show no signs of slowing down. To follow their incredibly selfless work, here are some of their social media pages. Check them out and keep up with JARR!
What do you think of the the work JARR does for animals? Do you want to get involved? Let us know in the comments below!