Georgetown woman begins work on sanctuary for unadoptable dogs

Rhonda Minardi wondered why she worked so hard. The 54-year-old massage therapist from Georgetown had three jobs, including working at a local hospital.

She had her revelation in December, when she picked up her husky, Blaze, from a dog daycare. She saw a Christmas tree that featured names of dogs at the Williamson County Animal Shelter that needed items, like blankets. She ended up buying items for 20 of the dogs and realized they were all seniors, she said.

She didn’t like the idea of ​​the dogs spending what was left of their lives in a shelter, Minardi said. That’s when she decided to buy some land and build a place where senior dogs could have a “forever” home, she said.

Minardi purchased 4.5 acres of land in Bertram in Burnet County in January and broke ground on its project called Living Grace Canine Ranch on June 20.

“It made sense why I was working so hard, because I needed the money to buy this land,” she said. She also worked as a massage therapist at a spa in Austin and for two chiropractors in Georgetown.

“Many of them never knew what love was, or had love and lost it when their owners died, or had to abandon them,” she said. about dogs.

The first building she has planned will house 16 to 22 senior dogs, who will each have their own room with a bed and a dog door leading to an outdoor patio. They will also be walked every day and have an indoor play area, she said. Minardi also plans to play music for the dogs in their rooms with calm tones to help them relax.

“It’s not a kennel or a shelter,” she said. “It’s about love and being with people and other animals.”

A caretaker will live with the dogs in an apartment in the building, she said. Minardi said she hopes to have the 2,280 square foot building erected by October and will be asking for volunteers to help design the interior.

She doesn’t have the money for the whole project, so she pays for it as she goes along and hopes to get donations through a non-profit organization, livinggracecanineranch.orgshe left for the sanctuary.

“I believe the Lord provides and He has been providing all this time and leading me in these directions,” Minardi said.

She estimates that the foundation will cost $29,000, the plumbing $5,000 and the building structure between $28,000 and $32,000.

Minardi said she eventually hopes to build a second building that can house 30 to 36 older dogs.

She draws inspiration for the dog ranch from Gracie, a mix of abused 12- to 14-year-old pit bulls she rescued from a shelter in Corpus Christi in March.

When Minardi first saw the dog at the shelter, Gracie was sitting in her own urine on a concrete slab, then limped towards her.

“I started crying because I had never seen anything like it,” Minardi said.

Minardi said she later learned the dog was mostly deaf and blind due to neglected infections, had a prolapsed uterus due to too many puppies, had a bullet in one of his feet and that he also suffered from heartworms, a torn tendon, a collapsed trachea and scabies. .

She also discovered that Gracie, who now lives with her, had 100 dog bite marks on her head.

Gracie isn’t strong enough to have surgery for many of her ailments, but she is receiving treatment for heartworms, has a leg splint and takes pain medication, Minardi said.

Her coat is growing back and she seems to have regained some of her hearing thanks to the treatment of her ear infections.

“She’s full of love,” Minardi said. “…When I get home, she runs up to me and puts her head in my chest like she’s trying to hug me.”

Gracie won’t live at the sanctuary because she’s not strong enough, Minardi said. But the dogs that will live there will never have to leave, she says.

“Once they come to Living Grace, they’ve already been traumatized and I won’t move them again,” Minardi said.

Rhonda Minardi gives treats to her dogs on Monday in Georgetown.  Minardi is the executive director of Living Grace Canine Ranch.  Minardi purchased 4.5 acres of land in Bertram in Burnet County in January and opened the Living Grace Canine Ranch on June 20, a "always" house for older dogs.

Bette C. Alvarado