Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, USA
Renee transformed her Cattle Ranch into a Sanctuary
After bonding with two motherless calves, Renee King-Sonnen became gradually disillusioned with cattleranching. Although Tommy was unconvinced initially as he was raised in a family with ranching traditions, Renee became convinced that they should leave ranching and become a sanctuary. Her conviction and determination to raise the money at all costs to avoid any further animal sales finally won him over and in 2015, they became a non-profit animal sanctuary, named after Rowdy Girl, one of the calves that Renee had first befriended. Since then Rowdy Girl Sanctuary as well as Renee and Tommy have become acclaimed for their pioneering example in the ranching community. They have just completed the documentary Ranch Rescue, documenting their experience “re-rescuing” their animals in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Additionally Renee created the Ranchers Advocacy Program to provide a supportive network for ranchers wishing to leave ranching,
FARM & TRANSFORMATION FACTS
- Tommy bought the Angleton farm in 2002.
- Tommy’s family was in ranching and slaughterhouses going back to his grandfather and great grandfather herding cows from San Antonio to Houston.
- Their veganic farm was lost in the June 2016 flood and they made a decision not to continue at that point with the veganic farm as it would take them further away from the care of the animals without the help of additional staff.
- While trying to convince Tommy, Renee threatened to buy back any calves he sold with his money.
- When she needed advice, Renee turned to veteran vegan rancher Howard Lyman for advice.
- While Tommy loved ranching because of the time connecting with animals and the land, he deeply disliked selling the calves every 6 months and had always refused to eat the animals that came from their farm.
- Rowdy Girl has rescued a total 15 bovines – the rest of the herd were born there and all will live out the remainder of their lives there in security. They have a complete genealogy of all of the animals born on property – their mothers, sisters, brothers, grandmothers etc.
- Their biggest challenge in transformation to becoming a sanctuary was not being adequately setup to administer serious sterilization procedures to the bull population once they no longer needed to breed their herd. They are hopeful that all animals that are in contact with the main herd are now sterile as of April 2017. They also have an offsite bull pasture where four bulls live peacefully awaiting future surgery.
- Rowdy Girl Sanctuary is now funded strictly through fundraising, donations and their organized public education events.
- The farm was originally a cow/calf operation, sending 12-18 calves a year to the “sale barn.”
- Kip Andersen, the filmmaker who made the Cowspiracy documentary on the diasters of animal agriculture is on the sanctuary’s Board of Directors.
- Tommy wanted to go vegan but loved dairy ice cream and cheese still. After an event sponsored at the sanctuary, he tasted ice cream by sponsor So Delicious and cheese by Follow Your Heart and was happy to go full vegan with those alternatives available.