The Texas Hill Country is home to an abundance of precious wildlife, from whitetail deer and antelope, to barn owls and bobcats. When these beautiful creatures become sick or injured, a unique nonprofit is dedicated to nursing them back to health and returning them home. Lacey Miller and her husband Zeb founded the Wild Things Rescue Ranch in 2017 on their property just outside of Johnson City. The couple’s shared love for animals, and a search for healing after tragedy, started it all.
“As a kid, I brought home anything and everything,” Lacey Miller said. “And Zeb was a bomb dog handler in the military, so when he became permanently disabled, we needed to find a way to give back and to heal ourselves at the same time.”
Today, Wild Things Rescue Ranch serves more than 25 counties, and rescues as many as 300 animals each year. Their team consists of eight volunteers who help with animal care, 10 community volunteers, and a few local youth groups. Together, they’re fulfilling an increasingly important mission, and thanks to a PEC Community Grant, they’ll soon be able to do even more.
“With such rapid growth in the region, we’re seeing a lot more animals getting injured and sick, and people picking them up who don’t know they shouldn’t,” Miller said. “We’re here to intervene and take over their care, until we can get them old enough, mature enough, ready enough, and wild enough to be released back into nature again.”
Miller’s favorite rehabilitation story is one of a whitetail deer named Sugar — who overcame the odds not once, not twice, but three times. She knows that seeing those stories firsthand can heal. That’s why the nonprofit works closely with disabled veterans and families of veterans who have lost loved ones while serving.
“We deal with things in life that at times seem insurmountable, but when you see an animal on that level, and you see them beat the odds, it lets you know that we’ve all got fight in us,” Miller said. “We’ve seen that when veterans get to be a part of these animals’ stories hands on, it can really can change hearts.”
With help from a PEC Community Grant, Wild Things Rescue Ranch will be able to expand its facility.
Once completed, upgrades will include a clinic, a nursery with incubators for baby animals, a full kitchen, bathroom, and an outdoor hand-washing station for volunteers. PEC Grants are funded through the Power of Change program — made possible by our members who opt to round their bills to the nearest dollar each month. Since launching the program just four years ago, PEC has provided more than $215,000 in funding to more than 50 organizations.
“Receiving this grant is monumental for us, and we’re just so grateful to PEC and its members ” Miller said. “To have a way for our community to collectively work together to help its nonprofits is really beautiful.”