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Sat, Dec. 14

Williams: Saving one by one

It was a windy day in late April when I strolled into the Mad Dog Saloon. I barely had time to shake the dust from my boots when I was greeted by Zain and Flynn, a couple of happy, though temporary, residents.

I suppose I should clarify that the “Mad Dog Saloon” is just one of the Old West-themed kennels at the new AARF Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Mayer. I had occasion to attend the grand opening there recently to learn about the impressive 10-acre property dedicated to Saving One by One Until There are None, as expressed by the organization’s brochure and website.

I understand that Liz Stegmeir had worked for seven years at Circle L Ranch managing its rescue division. Shortly after the Circle L rescue program changed its direction, Liz became aware of a 10-acre horse property outside Mayer (actually in Poland Junction), complete with a large horse barn, two wells and a septic system. Amazingly, the owner of the property donated the land with the stipulation that it would always be utilized as a rescue facility.

That was during the summer of 2018. Liz lost no time in applying for nonprofit status. Groundbreaking took place in August of last year for additional structures, and AARF officially open its kennel doors a couple of months later in October.

By the time this column appears, these numbers will be out of date, but so far, approximately 75 dogs have been rescued, and the overwhelming majority have been adopted out to forever homes. Zain and Flynn were among the first to find the homes they had always wanted. During my brief visit to the AARF grand opening, I personally witnessed 6-year-old Lad’s adoption to a wonderful couple who promised the black Lab he would have acres to roam with a couple of new siblings. He was so excited, I couldn’t get a personal quote, but his busy tail spoke paragraphs.

At this time, there are two 8-foot by 24-foot buildings, each divided into three 8-foot by 8-foot kennels housing two dogs apiece. These accommodations are cleverly painted in a Western motif with names such as The Jail, The Bank, Ms. Emma’s School, Duke’s Diner and, of course, The Mad Dog Saloon. Each kennel has its own fenced yard, plus year-round heat and air conditioning. The targeted capacity is 45 to 50 dogs.

The central barn includes an administrative office, a laundry, a meet-and-greet lounge and a quarantine unit.

Each animal receives a thorough vet check, shots — and medical care if needed — and a chip that records the new owner’s contact and AARF’s contact information. The general fee varies depending on the age of the dog. But listen, I’m advised that AARF has a Senior-to-Senior program. If a senior adopts a senior animal (of at least 9 years of age), there is no adoption fee. I really like that idea.

AARF is completely staffed by volunteers. Sponsors and individual donations are welcomed with all proceeds going to the support and care of the animals. AARF is totally funded by donations. If you’d like to visit ARRF, please phone ahead for an appointment.

If you would like information about becoming a sponsor or a volunteer, please contact AARF at 928-925-7219 or access

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