Dust Devil Ranch became a reality last summer when Ginger finally decide to make her dream happen, and purchased property off Exit 52, south of Cedar City. On any given day there are between 18 and 41 horses on the ranch. Ginger and her two sons chose Cedar City as their new home, and moved to the community from Maryland last year.
She said her plan is not only to expand the ranch, but to make it an asset and integral part of the community, where Boy Scouts and others can volunteer their time and create something everyone in the area can be proud of.
There are currently 41 horses on the ranch, 18 of which were seizures brought by the Iron County Sheriff’s Office in late August – five of the mares were pregnant. Ginger is able to adequately accommodate so many due to the generosity of Tracy Delnegro, who owns a large barn and property adjacent to Ginger’s and has allowed the ranch to use her facilities.
Ginger began volunteering at a horse rescue in Maryland some years ago, shoveling manure and doing what was asked, and it turned into a full-time career traveling all over the nation with the National Humane Society, helping neglected and abused horses and rescue operations, which made her both knowledgeable and passionate on the necessity of horse rescues.
For Dust Devil Ranch, so far she said the word is spreading and she has received very positive responses including donations of hay from many ranchers and concerned citizens, and she has been successful in finding homes for many of the rescued horses.
The demands of the ranch are never-ending. There is a constant need for hay, hay, and more hay, the cost of veterinarian care is an ever-mounting concern, materials are needed to build more fences, and Ginger is hoping there are Boy Scouts of all ages looking for service project to provide the manpower to put the fences in place.
When the horses arrive, many require three to six months of critical care, Ginger said. Some may also continue to have special requirements, creating large veterinarian bills.
Until Ginger is able to put up more fences, however, she is near capacity, but can access volunteer resources to place neglected and abused animals until more are adopted or more fencing is installed.
For Ginger, the Dust Devil Ranch is, quite simply, a labor of love.
“I do this because I love the horses,” she said. “There is a real and immediate need for this in the area. We want to find homes for the ones that are adoptable and give the others a humane, caring environment.”
The only other options for horse rescues for the Southern Utah area is limited space at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab and from there the nearest is in Las Vegas.
In addition to the animals seized by the sheriff office, some horses come from the livestock auction where they are abandoned and would likely eventually be bought and taken to Mexico or Canada and used for meat if Ginger did not take them.
After traveling in a closed truck for thousands of miles with no food, animals transferred for slaughter are not even humanely put down, Ginger said.
Ginger is eager to involve the community and encourage any interested volunteers to help out with labor or donations.
There is a foster program at the ranch that allows people to pay for the food and keep of a particular horse. The patron of the foster horse has the option of coming and caring for and riding the horse at the ranch.
“I want people to know they are welcome to come out and see what we are doing, if we are for real, and feel welcome here,” she said. “This is something out here anyone can get involved in, and people find it is extremely rewarding and often therapeutic.”
Some of Ginger’s best donors are the ranchers who are vocal in questioning why she would want to spend her time on such an endeavor.
“‘Why are you wasting your retirement on those damn things?’ they say to me,” she laughs as she recalls her conversations. “But they are also the same guys who are donating the hay I need and helping me out in lots of ways.”
The ranch, now only six months old, has already become a place of refuge not only for the horses, but for volunteers and for agencies who finally have an option on where to place seized animals.
Ginger is certain and very optimistic that Dust Devil Ranch will become a showpiece of the community, demonstrating why she loves this area – a credit to the community.
Most of the horses, in just a few short months, are ready to go to the approved adoption homes. The ones that remain receive help through the foster and senior programs.