When did you become a nonprofit?
February 20th is the day we became an official 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. We received our IRS determination letter, 4 months after applying in June of 2015. If anyone would like a copy of our IRS determination letter, please feel free to contact Renee.
Have there been any other cattle ranches do what you have done?
As far as we know, Rowdy Girl Sanctuary is the first and only beef cattle ranch conversion to a vegan sanctuary in the history of Texas, the United States of America and possibly the world.
What is the difference between a cow/calf beef cattle ranch and a dairy farm?
A dairy farm is all about producing milk. They do this by artificial insemination or what are called “rape racks”. Dairy cows are impregnated repeatedly and continuously so that they can birth calves and thus produce milk. The calves are taken away days after their birth and sold for veal production or to ranches to be used as breeders. A cow/calf beef cattle ranch, like the typical small cattle ranch in Texas, grazes cattle with a fertile bull that impregnates the cows naturally. The cows have babies, and the babies are with their mothers from approximately 6 to 9 months. Then the babies are sold in auctions to the highest bidder to be fattened up in feed lots or used as breeders on other small ranches. That is the basic difference. Lots of people think we were a dairy farm. We are not and have never operated as a dairy farm.
Why are you asking the public to take care of animals that belonged to your husband before you established this sanctuary?
In the time since this story began, Tommy Sonnen underwent an enormous transformation. The once meat-eating, full-time cattle rancher is now a vegan, full-time volunteer, caring for all of the animals he previously owned, and sold to his wife, Renee, who in turn made them the first residents of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization she established to put an end to the buying and selling of livestock as a business. The cows once bound for slaughter were spared.
Tommy had previously bought the 96-acre former beef cattle ranch as a supplement to his retirement after a 40-year career at Dow Chemical. He bought the land with the cows on it so that he could retire early and have retirement income. Renee’s decision to go vegan changed Tommy’s plans for a retirement portfolio completely. Tommy walked away from his plans and dreams for himself and the ranch; and supported his wife in the pursuit of a vegan sanctuary. This was an enormous change of heart for a beef cattle rancher who had previously viewed these animals entirely as a commodity. He now sees and treats them as individuals and is relieved that he no longer has to sell them. Seeing them live out their lives free from exploitation is a gift he could never have imagined before.
Now that the animals Tommy formerly owned are safe at Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, he will devote his life to caring for them. Tommy’s shift is a beautiful part of the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary story. The animals Tommy once owned are now part of the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary’s mission to provide loving, lifelong care for all the animals in the sanctuary.
In addition to the cows Rowdy Girl Sanctuary purchased from your husband and the animals that were there before becoming a sanctuary, how many animals have been rescued?
PIGS: 3 FFA Pigs and 2 Pot Bellies
13 MEMBERS OF THE BOVINE FAMILY, including steer, bull calves, heifers and cows
BIRDS: 1 Turkey, 3 Ducks, 1 Rooster, and 17 Chickens
This data reflects animals rescued from May 2015 to July 19, 2016
Is Rowdy Girl Sanctuary breeding cows?
NO – ABSOLUTELY NOT! Breeding implies that we are deliberately impregnating the cows to sell their babies. That is what “breeders” do – they deliberately breed and sell the offspring for commercial profit. WE ARE NOT DOING THAT! We are a vegan sanctuary, and breeding is not consistent with our vegan ethics and our mission. WE DO NOT SELL OUR ANIMALS! NOR ARE WE BREEDING FOR THE FUN OF IT! We are in the process of deliberately and purposefully sterilizing all males. As a cow/calf operation we operated with only ONE BULL that we kept – the rest were always females. All bull calves and baby heifers were sold at market. The breeding occurred with one BULL!
How come the sanctuary cows that you bought have had babies if you are not breeding?
Converting a cow/calf beef cattle ranch operation into a 100% sterile herd AND becoming a vegan sanctuary is unheard of. The cows that were saved from slaughter along with their juvenile children, are a miracle for the world to watch grow up and get to know–The last of the original Rowdy Girl herd! They would have all been slaughtered! And, it should come as no surprise that the cows saved by Renee were pregnant and were getting pregnant during Oct 31, 2014 (the day she went vegan), and May 2, 2015 (the day she raised the rest of the money to buy the herd). The herd she bought had babies! That is not breeding – it is life! Those children will never go to slaughter. They are SAVED and will not be SOLD to be fattened up in a feed lot and slaughtered! They get to stay with their families, and we will get to know them in their own familial environment.
We are working through all sterility and fertility issues. We are in the process of assessing all of our records with our vet to confirm every bull calf that was fixed last year, and those that need to be fixed (4), that were born late last year and this year (all births are the result of the natural process of pregnancy that occurred during Oct 31, 2014 and May 28, 2015 and there were Cows pregnant before Oct 31, 2014 that also delivered during this time period). We are going to have the ones from last year all retested to make sure the Burdizzo procedure worked. The public will be informed on this FAQ page of news that needs to be shared regarding the herd and the procedures we’ve discussed. Please refrain from believing idle gossip that you hear on social media. And if you have questions always ask us on our website, email or call. We have absolutely nothing to hide. We welcome you at the sanctuary anytime. In the meantime, get to know our rowdy family – it is the only one like it in the world.
Are you available to speak personally with people who have questions about Rowdy Girl Sanctuary?
Of course, any time. Call us at 281-684-9101 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Trying to reach us through social media is not always easy to do. We get hundreds of notifications a day but if you call, Renee will always call you back if she doesn’t answer and your emails will always be returned.
Who is your vet and how long have you had them?
Our primary vet is Dr. Huebner in Brazoria – he has two offices, one in Brazoria and one in West Columbia where Dr. Critser, an associate vet is the primary veterinarian. Both doctors have treated our animals at the sanctuary and in Dr. Huebner’s facility where they have the appropriate large animal chutes for sterilization procedures, immunizations, deworming and microchipping. Our first visit to see Dr. Huebner was May 27, 2015. We’ve used his offices ever since, both there and they’ve come out to the sanctuary. Dr. Critser is the “on call” doctor.
GCVS (Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists) is the clinic we use in Houston for our birds. Dr. Antinoff is the aviary specialist that we have used at their office. We started using this clinic June 2016
Dr. Kris Anderson, DVM is a mobile vet that we used before becoming a sanctuary and we recently started using her again as she is a better fit for us regarding what we need “on-site”.
Dr. Maud Marin – she teaches a vet tech training class at PIMA University in Houston. Last year her students came here to administer vaccines and dewormers. That was in August of 2015 and the class is scheduled to come again in September 2016.