Animal Writes
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From 29 May 2005 Issue

A “Tail” of Inspiration
By Christine Tomasello - [email protected]

Did you see that timeless movie they show every year at Christmas with those imperfect toys that nobody wants? Where through no fault of their own, these rejected defects of toy land are discarded and subsequently go to live in the Land of Misfits? It’s a heartbreaking concept. The good news however, is that these poor souls really don’t mind, and they don’t need much looking after either, being that they’re, well, fake.

I do know of a real place that reminds me a lot of The Land of Misfits. Except it’s not on the North Pole, it’s right here on Long Island, in Manorville. And its name isn’t Land of Misfits, it’s Double D Bar Ranch, affectionately dubbed The Second Chance Ranch. And rather than objects that reside in our imagination, this place is for real. What they do have in common is that all residents were, at one time, unwanted. And the only thing at Double D Bar Ranch that seems more endless than the once neglected and abused farm animals is the unwavering dedication of two amazing seniors who care for every last one of them.

If you’re thinking they’re probably retired with lots spare time and money to spend, you are terribly wrong. Gay Devoe, a 60-year-old grandmother, still works a full time job over 50 miles away. Her husband Rich, 66, cares for the animals with unbelievable determination. Recent rains have turned the ground into ankle deep mud. But this added burden doesn’t slow him down. In the winter he tirelessly breaks up the frozen ice in the big water buckets all over the property. And by the time he gets to the last one, the first one has already refrozen. So, he begins again.

There are as many stories at Double D Bar Ranch as there are rescued animals. There’s a bull that was rescued from becoming someone’s veal dinner who now “thinks he’s a puppy,” reports Gay. Then there’s Porky, the once underfed pig who was found knee deep in, well, not mud. Rescued from another abusive situation are two undernourished horses that have gained back hundreds of needed pounds. Dozens of sheep and goats rescued from abandoned petting zoos, and three deer saved from a canned hunt also call this place home. Other residents include cranky pot belly pigs, one eyed rabbits, and a one legged pheasant. There are also sleepy cats, fluffy puppies, and most of all, compassion.

As we walked the muddy grounds, dozens of ducks waddled feverishly over to us. Ducks are a common example of animal abuse. At Easter, both ducks and chicks are purchased by family members as cute gifts for children. Most people don’t realize these are messy animals that love to splash around in water. Fact is most folks are not prepared to care for them beyond the holiday. Many others started out as school projects for children to learn how a hatched egg becomes a duckling. At the end of the school year, most ducks are abandoned or brought to petting zoos.

But love won’t pay the bills. And it’s no easy task to feed all these hungry animals. The animals eat over 2.5 tons of hay per week and between 70 and 75 bags of feed per month. The average feed bill is $4,500 a month and vet bills are approximately $1000 per month. The ranch implements several different programs to help cover costs. For between $5 and $100 per month, you can join the Sponsor a Pet Program. They welcome everything from hands-on help to construction work. They are in need of large amounts of vegetables. (Anything but iceberg lettuce and cauliflower).

Unlike some of the more popular organizations, Double D Bar Ranch isn’t backed by any celebrity names; they don’t put a cap on the number of animals they take in; and incredibly, 100 percent of the donations they receive are spent on caring for the animals. Some organizations spend up to 80 percent of donations on administration costs, which can legally cover car expenses and salaries. Not here. One month their electric was actually shut off in their home. “The animal feed was more important, so we went without. It wasn’t so bad” Gay Devoe said without hesitation as she zipped up her jacket and walked around a mud puddle. Not even Santa can compete with that.

You Can Help:

From school age children to senior programs, there are opportunities for everyone to get involved. Donations of all kinds are needed. From the ranch’s Sponsor a Pet Program to offering your time or donations of food, you can help the Devoes continue their amazing effort at Double D Bar Ranch.

For more information, visit their website at or call Gay or Rich Devoe at 631-878-4106.

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