Governor’s mandate closes tourist farm, putting 96 rescued animals at risk

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Jay Inslee, governor of Washington state, recently mandated that “agritourism” businesses could not operate because of Covid-19. The decision not only puts dozens of businesses at risk of permanent closure, but it is impacting animal lives, including 96 rescued animals who call Refuge River Ranch “home.”

Five days ago, Refuge River Ranch wrote:

As many of you have heard, Inslee is shutting down all agritoursim as of Monday. If Refuge River Ranch continues to operate we face fines up to $10000.
Refuge River Ranch houses 96 rescue animals ranging from chickens, horses, alpacas and more. All of them rescued and given a second chance at life because of Jodi. Many of them may not be here today if it wasn’t for Refuge River Ranch.

Refuge River Ranch offered visitors a hands-on ranch experience, but now, continued operations, and the ability to feed and care for the dozens of animals who live there, is in jeopardy.

Supporters of the business wonder why it is okay for people to mask up and visit retail establishments like Lowes, Costco, and Walmart, but they aren’t being allowed to do the same at an outdoor venue. On the day the news broke, the ranch’s owner posted a heartbreaking video to Facebook expressing frustration and dismay over the shut down order:

A fundraiser, to keep the animals alive and the ranch afloat, can be found here.

The ranch offers an alternative for people who would like to buy food for the animals directly, writing:

I’ve had people ask how they can help buy animal food. Coastal Farm and Ranch in E. Wenatchee (509)886-1560 is willing to sell gift cards and save them in the managers office and my volunteer is heading there now to pick up a few items we are low on for Refuge River Ranch. Again thank you everyone for your love and support of these sweet rescue animals!

Inslee’s mandate threatens to permanently end many businesses. After the mandate to halt agritourism, there was a good deal of push back from businesses and state residents. In the wake of that push back, Inslee altered the mandate somewhat, but Refuge River Ranch is in a county (Chelan) which is still limited to what it can open. On Friday, Refuge River Ranch wrote:

I was supposed to hear back from the Governor office yesterday…hopefully today..well, maybe Monday?
So they did change the agritourism mandate today, but that only applies to Phases 2&3 and Chelan county is still in Phase 1😢 So Refuge River Ranch is still forced to remain closed…this is horrible!

Meanwhile, the business received a donation and a phone call from Loren Culp, who is running against Inslee in the upcoming election. Refuge River Ranch is still waiting to hear from the governor who is putting their livelihood at risk.

Find the Refuge River Ranch website here.

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