Can You Save A Life In 24 Hours? Oklahoma's 1 Day Ranch Says Yes.
Published July 2019
By Karlie Ybarra | Photos by Lori Duckworth | 5 min read
Days of Compassion
Twenty-four hours is all it takes to save a life, no matter how damaged or disregarded it may be. This is the philosophy behind 1 Day Ranch near Shawnee, where animals of all sizes and situations can find comfort, companionship, and compassion.
Our core belief is that every creature deserves a day to turn things around and live a better life. Maeghan Olsen, founder of 1 Day Ranch
"Our core belief is that every creature deserves a day to turn things around and live a better life,” says founder Maeghan Olsen, who runs things with the help of her husband, Justin, and a board of directors.
In 2011, Olsen started taking in horses and dogs in need of serious rehabilitation and new homes, but her menagerie soon grew in unexpected ways.
“People started calling to say, ‘We have this goat, or this lamb, or this pot-bellied pig, and they need a place to go,’” she says. “The last five years have been a huge learning curve for me.”
Adeline the lamb and her best friend Hope the goat travel the state as animal ambassadors for the 1 Day Ranch.
Chickens, goats, horses, dogs, cats, pigs, donkeys, and an earless llama named Dolly currently live at 1 Day Ranch. And each one has its own story.
“The Midwest City animal shelter called and said they had a pregnant dog who was so terrified the employees couldn’t touch her,” Olsen says. “They didn’t want her to have her puppies there, because she would become aggressive, and then they would have had to put her down—and then her puppies.”
The small Labrador gave birth to nine puppies a week later. So far, eight of them are thriving, and the whole family will be available for adoption in late July. That is the ultimate goal for ninety percent of the animals Olsen takes in—a process that can take anywhere from a month to two years. But some residents end up staying.
“Our animal ambassadors, like Hope the goat and Adeline the lamb, educate kids and adults on the proper treatment of animals,” Olsen says.
Olsen’s father is a child psychologist, so one of the ranch’s missions is to provide equine-assisted psychotherapy. Although the service currently is open only to referrals, Olsen hopes to offer it to the general public one day.
“There’s something magical about the horses’ ability to get kids to talk,” she says. “There’s a three-year-old girl who comes to work on sensory issues and speech delays. She comes in and asks ‘My horse ’Chonne?’ I tell her she’s in the stable, and she gets the halter and waits for me—she’s not tall enough to put it on herself—then she walks and brushes her. The horse, Michonne, loves it.”
Partnering with a local organization, Olsen also works with victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault to provide a safe place for their animals to go while they receive the care they need.
“A lot of women won’t leave their abusers, because they’ve threatened their animals, or they’ll be killed if they leave,” she says. “They won’t leave their pets behind.”
It would seem that caring for more than fifty animals and meeting all of these challenges would be insurmountable for Olsen, her husband, and a small group of volunteers funded entirely by donations, but their compassion is tireless and their patience unending.
“We take it one day at a time,” she says.
1 Day Ranch accepts volunteers and gives tours by appointment.