For some, they were too old or too expensive to keep. Others had disabilities or experienced injuries or sickness that dubbed them no longer "useful."
But Melinda Golis, the woman who lovingly feeds and nurtures the unlikely assortment of souls considers each pair of smiling eyes a blessing that makes her day brighter and her life fuller, though admittedly busier.
As a word of advice, while there always seem to be animals in need of a home, when adopting unusual types of animals, such as a camel or deer, check with local and state regulations about types of animals that can be kept on city or county property.
Some animals are prohibited while others may require permits, as was the case with Melinda's deer.
Take special care, as well, to thoroughly consider the needs, such as dietary and exercise, of an animal being considered for adoption. Careful consideration before taking on a new pet — rescued or otherwise — will eliminate the need for an animal to face relocation too many times.
While Melinda's ranch is hardly deemed an "official" rescue ranch as of yet, she's eager to look into non-profit status, and she's got enough animals to warrant a helping hand.
She makes her facility available to groups interested in a tour, and says she'll gladly accept donations, cash or otherwise, for feeding and caring for the animals (costs for food run more than $2,000 a month).
In addition, volunteers are welcome to sign on to help feed and clean up after the animals any day of the week. For details, e-mail Melinda at Melinda@jackelope.biz.
Melinda's tidy home is tucked amidst the trees and rolling hills on the outskirts of Medford. While it also serves as an active equestrian facility with boarding, training and lessons, Melinda has rescued dozens upon dozens of animals with the simple gesture of refusing to say no to an animal in need of a home.
Some were accepted by Melinda when she learned of their plight; others were simply dumped. On a recent sunny afternoon, a trio of excited Boston terriers, a Rhodesian Ridgeback and a grinning "Heinz 57" serves as an impromptu welcoming committee. Nearby, a 3-year-old camel named "Sully" (a.k.a. Sultan) smirks from behind an opening in a tall fence while a small herd of rare fallow deer wander over to check out the hubbub.
On Melinda's front lawn, one of many rescued stray cats stretches in a patch of sunshine while two rescued horses help themselves to the season's remaining persimmons on a nearby tree.
As a child, Melinda grew up on a boat and always had an assortment of animals that, at the very least, caused folks to look more than once. In later years, she went on to operate a dressage and event barn, manage a host of animal care facilities and spend time as a competitor and judge in the United States Dressage Federation.
She moved to Oregon a half-dozen years ago with some 20 horses and a desire to slow things down.
"I was getting kind of burnt out. I had 50 clients, 50 kids, 50 horses," Melinda recalls.
She started out taking in retired and/or injured equines and along the way, acquired some three dozen cats after trapping a large population of feral felines. She then had them spayed or neutered and adopted, all on her own dime.
Then a man with a special permit to keep a rare herd of fallow deer decided he wanted to get rid of the animals, but special permits made relocation difficult. Melinda spent six months and a chunk of change to build housing for the deer and apply for special permits — all for the sake of allowing the deer to live out their days in her care.
Special Babydoll Southdown sheep, raised by Melinda, co-habitate with a one-eyed cow named Bonnie. The cow was discarded for her inability to produce babies anymore, but now spends her days soaking up the sun and bartering for treats from visitors.
A blind cat and his canine companion, both named Bobbi, round out the indoor assortment of critters. After four months on their own, the inseparable pair were rescued from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and were featured on national television for their unlikely bond. Melinda was selected from 300 applicants to provide their "forever home."
More recent additions include a rare, charismatic camel. "Sometimes I joke we're so out of money we should probably sell the camel!" But a kiss on his nose and a grunt or two indicates neither the camel nor Melinda are convinced he'll ever leave her home or heart. At some point, he'll be trained to ride for the non-profit H.O.P.E. Equestrian facility, located at Melinda's ranch.
Another new arrival, a rare Bashkir Curly horse dubbed Ulysses, wanders the property scratching his massive back on tree branches and inspecting the other four-legged creatures nearby.
"People go 'Oh my gosh, you have so many animals.' But you know what, they depend on me"¦ and I really love it," she says.
In a nutshell, Melinda's generous heart allows the animals the right to live their lives as though it weren't an option. And live well, they do.