Heart of Louisiana: Big Sky Ranch

Heart of Louisiana: Big Sky Ranch

FOLSOM, La. (WVUE) - What began as one woman’s attempt to help stray cats in her neighborhood has grown into a ranch with hundreds of animals of all types and sizes.

Dr. Catherine Wilbert started rescuing cats 30 years ago, then she started saving other abandoned and abused animals.

“My love for animals and my caring for them has been since I was really young,” Wilbert said.

Eventually ending up with a horse, Wilbert realized she needed more room. That’s when she found a 10-acre place in Folsom, now known as Big Sky Ranch.

“Every program we start or we innovate, is to try to create alternatives to animals going to shelters, and animals dying in shelters, or animals dying on the street,” Wilbert said.

Today, the quiet farm is filled with communities of animals -- all kinds of animals.

“A lot of times people take in animals, or buy animals, and then realize they can’t take care of them adequately,” Wilbert said.

Walking around the ranch, it’s hard not to be reminded of Dr. Dolittle, a comparison Wilbet said she’s heard before.

“We have cats, horses, donkeys, dogs, rabbits, tortoises, turkeys,” she said. “We have a little bit of everything.”

And, every animal has it’s name.

“I remember all of the names,” Wilbert said. “That’s Memphis, and his name is Memphis because he actually rode from Memphis all the way to Louisiana underneath an 18-wheeler.”

In addition to all the critters, there are also a number of people at Big Sky Ranch, many who colunteer their time to help care for the animals. And, Wilbert said there are special “family farm days,” on the ranch.

“[They] Help out for the day, have a picnic by the pond with the ducks, or watching the horses or donkeys, but spend the day here making a difference,” Wilbert said.

Wilbert puts a lot of emphasis on spaying and neutering.

“They’ve had two or three cats and couldn’t afford spay neuter and those two or three cats in a year’s time have turned into 200 cats. It’s just that quick and out of control,” Wilbert said.

Most of the animals at Big Sky are available for adoption.

“We adopt doves, we’ve adopted out peacocks, we’ve adopted out quite a few turkeys believe it or not, we’ve rescued a few roosters that ended up moving on and finding homes," Wilbert said. “There’s a lot of need. I believe, the more we’re aware, the more people here are educated about that need and realize that it’s not that hard to make a difference.”

And, it’s not a bad way to spend the day. Most of the animals seem to enjoy the attention, and so will you.

Big Sky Ranch and the Catnip Foundation are hosting a clear the shelters event for pet adoptions Saturday, (Aug. 17). For more information on future events, visit their website: bigskyranch.org

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