Imagine Furever Ranch opens in Shawnee as a shelter for senior dogs – how you can visit, volunteer

Older dogs rest quietly at a small ranch in North Shawnee.

After celebrating a grand opening at the end of August, Imagine Furever Ranch has already become the home of over half a dozen dogs. In fact, co-founders Kathryn Lask and Todd Mitchell say they’re accepting a constant stream of new surrenders and relocated senior dogs as part of their mission to help pooch age in place.

Co-founder Kathryn Lask said she and her boyfriend, co-founder Todd Mitchell, were inspired to take care of older dogs after adopting their own senior rescues.

“We’re really trying to improve their end of life as much as possible,” Lask said. “We have a double mission: it is not only a question of saving the old dogs, but we [also] a Christian community, so we want people here. With dogs, people are drawn to this, so we want to spread the message of Jesus of kindness and grace, and relate it to dogs.

The shelter and senior dog shelter looks after senior dogs that have been abandoned, or were on a kill list or were at risk of being put on a list, as well as senior dogs whose owners no longer wish or can no longer take care of them.

The site previously housed a Montessori school.

Lask’s now adult son attended school when he was younger, and she noticed as she walked past the site in May, she noticed he was for sale.

“My brain just started to explode, because Todd and I had already started talking, let’s find some land,” she said.

Now, Lask herself plans to move into the house on the 4-acre site next week.

Inspired by a dog named Lucy

Located at 20720 W. 47th St., the site was previously a Montessori school.

Ever since they started dating a few years ago, Lask and Mitchell have enjoyed caring for the senior dogs they have rescued over the years.

One of them in particular, a Westiepoo named Lucy, inspired the couple to create an animal rescue operation for older dogs.

A memorial garden for the dogs will be built around the grave of Lucy, a dog who inspired the co-founders of the shelter.

“It was a dog that presented us with the aging dog issues,” Lask said. “These older dogs… need a lot more patience, a lot more compassion and just a lot more time, medical bills and so on, and we thought, what are people doing with these animals?” It just broke our hearts to think that they would be repressed or abandoned somehow.

Lucy passed away in December 2020 after developing sudden blindness and a thyroid disorder.

She is buried on the Imagine Furever Ranch property, and the couple are building a memorial garden for the other dogs around her grave.

An “open-sofa” concept

The “open-sofa” concept allows dogs and humans to mingle in a living room.

Imagine Furever Ranch’s mission is modeled after a similar shelter in Spring Hill called Always and Furever, where the couple sometimes volunteered.

Lucy’s Lodge, the main building of the Imagine Furever Ranch, has an open sofa system to make it look like a living room.

There is a minimum age for abandoned dogs, but all dogs must be friendly with other dogs in order to live with their new roommates.

Lask said they don’t have a hard capacity limit, but naturally try to limit the number of dogs they accept in order to create a good mix of dog sizes and temperaments. They currently have half a dozen dogs.

“I think the reason it’s become so important to me is the opportunity to build a bigger Christian community, and to associate it with the love of dogs, it’s so rewarding,” said Lask . “It just seems like a bigger goal than either one individually.”

How to visit, volunteer

“It’s just really really wanting to make more people feel like they’re a part of this here,” said Lask, who gives Boone pets a new admission on Wednesday.

Imagine Furever Ranch is open to the public Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The association accepts volunteers and donors. All contributions go directly to the shelter.

“If they have come and are ready to take the plunge and get involved at any level, it could be just to come and sit with the dogs, even just sit down and be a companion. for the dog is a huge service, I think, to the dogs, ”said Lask.

Lask’s goal is to fill all two-hour volunteer windows from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

“It’s just really wanting to make more people feel like they’re a part of this here,” Lask said. “We want to invite people to come to the property. We want people to feel it’s theirs too.

The ranch is also planning to host a fall festival and adoption event on Saturday, October 23.

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