MAYSVILLE, Mo. — For farmers, their land is not only where they live — it’s also their way of life. When farmers become injured, sick, or otherwise disabled, there is a risk they could lose everything.
In Missouri, one non-profit organization is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. Pets Helping Agriculture in Rural Missouri (PHARM) specially trains dogs to help farmers keep their land. Jackie Allenbrand founded the organization in 2005 after earning a small startup grant and has helped a dozen different farmers already. She designed the program and found a huge help in Bobby Miller, a Vietnam War veteran who trains Border Collies.
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Together, the two take strays and other adoptable dogs and turn them into farm dogs. The success stories have come pouring in, and the two tear up every time they hear one of their dogs has changed a life.
Alda Owen, who is legally blind and has a leg injury from a big bull kicking a gate into her, is one of those farmers. She and her husband received Sweet Baby Jo and she is thrilled that she can help out on the farm again. Sweet Baby Jo is always at her side and will herd the cattle back while she works, so she doesn’t have to worry. Farmers with amputations, cancer, spinal cord injury, and deafness, amongst other disabilities, are eligible to apply.
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Right now, PHARM is only available in Missouri, but Allenbrand hopes that they can expand the program into other states to help as many farmers as possible. As a farmer herself, she really believes in the vision:
“If I can do anything to help these farmers stay put, that’s what I want to do,” she said. “Same for everybody involved in this—we’re all farmers ourselves.”