An oasis for both animals and humans

By Maja Peirce

Freed Spirits Animal Rescue, near New River, stands as a relieving oasis for both animals and humans alike. While providing a safe home for a variety of animals- horses, pigs, goats, cows, and chickens- the rescue allows people in the community to volunteer in an effort to heal both the animals and the people who care for them.

“It’s a very unique place. I’ve been volunteering here almost since it opened. Once you walk through those gates, it’s almost as if you’re in your own little Shangrala. The unity and the love emanates from this place. There is so much caring for eachother,” said Sandy Strauss Garcia, a volunteer.

Denise McCawley founded Freed Spirits Animal Rescue two years ago with help from her daughter Suhr and other close friends. The passion behind Freed Animal Rescue began during a visit to Thailand. They were inspired by Lek Chailert at the Elephant Nature Park where Chailert had spent her life saving elephants from abuse and misuse. After a week volunteering there, it motivated them to open a rescue in Arizona where they could help out animals that suffer similar abuse here.
“There’s a huge need for rescues in this area. We get reached out to far more than we can accept an animal. A horse will go through six owners in the span of its life. Conditions change in life and they can live into their mid-thirties. People get sick, they lose their jobs and can’t pay for them. We just wanted to do something where we can work with both humans and animals,” said Shana McCawley, ranch manager.

The rescue strives to be a welcoming place for as many animals as they can take in. If space is limited when someone calls about an animal, they try their best to find them a home. They embrace their volunteers similarly by trying to find a job for everyone no matter their age or capabilities.

“Everyone is accepted here. I have some limitations and I do not know whether everybody would want me to be volunteering. I used to have my own donkeys and horses on my property and I can’t physically take care of them by myself anymore. So this is my lifeline to be honest. Everyone is welcome here and expected to just do what they can,” said Strauss Garcia.
A thrift shop lives in one of the ranches sheds where they sell thrift clothes and antiques to pay for the animals needs. They also grow food in a garden located in the front of the property. It is teaming with various kinds of vegetables for volunteers to chop and feed to the animals.

“We use a compost and try to grow their lunches. The pigs just go crazy over the vegetables especially the watermelon,” said McCawley.
Prior to COVID19, Freed Spirits Animal Rescue had three outreach programs with girl scouts, daisies, and local residents with disabilities. The girl scouts colored thank you cards for those who bought merchandise from their store and were excited at the prospect of helping build the garden until COVID19 hit. Although the outreach programs had to take a break for the most part, there are still approximately 20 volunteers who come weekly to help out.

“It’s a very healing environment for people who come here right now to distress. People who have lost their jobs are pretty depressed right now. So we have noticed an increase in people coming to volunteer and they’re appreciative of being able to come here during their hard times,” said Suhr, weekend manager.

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