Lucky Ones Ranch home to rescued animals

Originally published in The Reporter on February 06, 2016 By Jessica Rogness

Lucky Ones Ranch home to rescued animals
Vince Ones and Thao Le share five acres off Cantelow Road with 69 animals of 14 species. Their animal sanctuary was recently granted its nonprofit status.Jessica Rogness — The Reporter

Nestled in the rolling green hills along Cantelow Road north of Vacaville is Lucky Ones Ranch, where Thao Le and Vince Ones brought their small family of animals in 2011.
I’ve always been wanting to do this as a full-time job,” said Le, who until recently spent her days fielding calls as a dispatcher in Napa.
Every animal at Lucky Ones lives a charmed life, but it’s also a play on words — combining the memory of “Lucky,” the couple’s beloved Golden Retriever and certified therapy dog who succumbed to lymphoma in 2010, and “Ones,” actually pronounced “Oh-nez” but often mistaken for “Ones.”
Lucky was our dog who passed away before we moved here,” Le said, explaining the ranch name. “It was a no-brainer right there.”
She and her husband used to live in town with a few dogs, chickens and rabbits they had rescued.
Eventually, they decided they needed more space.
We had no idea that this was going to happen,” Le said.
They currently care for 69 animals of 14 different species — dogs, cats, pigs, guinea pigs, donkeys, turkeys, goats, llamas, horses, tortoises, rabbits and a variety of fowl — on the 5 acre ranch, and recently were granted status as a nonprofit organization.
They also recently started offering tours for a suggested donation of $20 for a family of four.
Many who have come to tour the ranch have come back to volunteer, helping to bathe animals in the summer or perform maintenance in the winter.
All I ask if that they can pick up a shovel,” Le said. Her youngest volunteer has been 9 years old.
In addition to volunteers, Le is looking for people to donate fruits and vegetables for the animals, whose feed bill can top $1,000 each month.
Almost all of the animals enjoy carrots and apples. The pigs like potatoes. The birds prefer lettuce.
Some of the animals, like the llamas, came from breeders. Many others were found on Craigslist, where they were listed by people who could no longer care for them. Others have been dropped off at the ranch.
The regular welcome committee consists of dogs Henry, Cozette and Sandy, who follow Le and guests around.
Sandy, 13, keeps up despite limping along on three of her four legs. She was likely hit by a car before Le adopted her.
Bad things happen to animals, but look at how sweet she is regardless,” Le said.
Cozette, a certified therapy dog, sat still to be pet, while Henry, a Golden Retriever, bounded to and fro to see what everyone else was up to.
The dogs aren’t the only ones who tag along with Le. Hutch the goat and Stella the turkey follow her too.
When Stella had to have a toe amputated, Le and Ones took her along with their dogs on their vacation to Los Angeles. Stella saw the Hollywood sign, and Le has the photo to prove it.
Sometimes Le and Ones got more than they expected — they found Phoebe the pot-bellied pig online, and when they went to pick her up, her former owner informed them she might be pregnant.
Now Phoebe and eight of her progeny mingle in an enclosure with the donkeys, goats, llamas and fowl over dinners of alfalfa.
Up in the pasture, mother and son duo Alyah and Dylan graze among their herd of six horses and ponies.
Alyah, along with Strider, a black pony with a white star on his forehead, came from a ranch in Oregon, after the owner could no longer afford to care for them. Alyah was already pregnant when she arrived at Lucky Ones, and Dylan was born soon after.
Josephine the Shetland pony mix was found on the side of the highway in American Canyon at 2 a.m. Le had dispatched an officer to that location.
Josephine stayed at the county animal shelter, but when Le found out no one claimed or adopted her, the pony came home with her.
Outside the fence, Ricky, a 25-year-old white Arabian, roamed free.
Le trusts him, and Ricky regularly greets guests, walking right up to them when they park their cars. He’s especially good with children.
He was saved from a meat auction by a horse rescue.
Another mother and son duo, donkeys Ziggy and Marley, were caught out in the wild and it took a month for them to warm up to Le.
I couldn’t even touch them when they came here,” Le remembered.
Now the curious pair gently take carrots from her hand.
They’ve become a favorite of a lot of the visitors,” she said.
Le would like to do more outreach with children. She brought two of her rabbits to a recent Make a Wish Foundation event.
Special needs children are another group she wants to partner with.
The Children’s Nurturing Project recently brought a large group of children with autism for a tour.
First the children may be overwhelmed, but many warm up to the animals, Le said.
It’s been really cool seeing the changes in the kids,” she said.
Le grew up with a stepsister who had a miniature horse, so she has always been around animals.
But that’s not the case for every child.
A 12-year-old girl confined to her wheelchair was one visitor Ones remembered well.
Her parents told them she normally doesn’t verbalize much, but she was so excited to see a pony.
That’s what’s most rewarding, when you hear those individual stories,” Ones said.
Tours are by appointment only.
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