Tucked away in the hills of Moorpark lives a flock of some very fortunate American Blackbelly sheep. These content creatures, rescued from market by two remarkable women, will now live their lives as therapy animals.
The brainchild of entertainment veteran Melissa Herron and industry hyphenate and animal activist Fia Perera, the Guardian Animal Rescue and Recovery Foundation formed out of pure love.
Stepping away from the business world six years ago, Melissa began working with farm animals. She found the peaceful nature of sheep, in particular, helped her feel calm and fulfilled.
“I’ve always been more at home in nature and being around these beautiful creatures brought me an immeasurable sense of peace,” says Melissa.
The sheep brought her so much joy, she decided to share her experiences with friends. It was Fia, stopping by the ranch one day, who noted, “They are healers.” That simple phrase turned out to be a bolt of enlightenment.
Rarely do people realize the invaluable inherent nature of livestock by spending time with them. Farm animals are usually viewed as for sale, for profit or for dinner; not so, with these sheep. Melissa had bonded with them and it became evident they possessed a natural ability to relieve stress in those around them.
Together, Melissa and Fia gathered resources, arranged to purchase 10 lambs and moved the flock to a safe space at the Spirit Dancer Ranch in Moorpark. Rescuing these beautifully docile creatures was just the first step. Numerous expenses come with caring for a flock, which had quickly grown to 20 rams, ewes and lambs. In addition to feed and veterinary costs (including castration), expenses include ancillaries, such as replacing animal-worn buckets, feed stations and water vessels. Melissa and Fia realized it was time to take their project to the next level.
A Nonprofit is Born
Once the duo established their nonprofit GARR Foundation, launched a website and Facebook presence, and started taking in donations, others who had spent time communing with the flock stepped up to volunteer. It wasn’t long until the group discovered a way to share this wonderful sheep energy with those who would benefit most. Through organized sessions, these sheep could help bolster the healing process for people in recovery and aid therapists, Reiki practitioners, guidance professionals and others.
The Sheep Heal Project was the next step, and therapy sessions began, including a recent meditation and healing event with noted wellness facilitator Dr. Lorri Many Rivers Santamaría. Other sessions include crystal healing, Reiki, animal communication and private and group meditation for those in recovery. The future includes plans to hold diverse workshops, including creative writing and healing sessions benefiting those dealing with life trauma.
For more details about the Sheep Heal Project, the GARR Foundation or upcoming events, visit SheepHealProject.com or GARRFoundation.org.