She created a sanctuary to rescue wayward animals. But that's only part of the story.
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Dignity Health

11 years ago, Alison and Steve Smith decided to open a sanctuary farm for unwanted miniature horses. But it quickly became much more than that.

Two days after opening the Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue in North Dakota, they welcomed Pebbles and Cocoa — their first two horses. Today, they've rescued well over 500 along with many other wayward animals including cats, dogs, goats, sheep, ducks, chickens, rabbits, and pigs that were cast out because of a disability.

Alison with several residents of the Triple H Miniature Horse Rescue. All photos courtesy of Alison Smith.


The Smiths made it their prerogative to save as many as they could — using every minute and dollar they could spare.

"We realized we had to expand our horizons and do more," writes Alison in an email.

For example, they drove 120 miles to rescue G.I. Joe — a small dog who was paralyzed from the waist down, and had to drag the lower half of his body around.

G.I. Joe on the farm with his patriotic wheelchair.

They took in a 10 week old kitten named Mowgli who'd lost his eyes to an infection, as well as a pot-bellied pig named Wanda and a Labrador named Martin, both of whom are also blind.

Mowgli and his dog friend Scarlett.

They also bottle-fed orphaned goats and saved a little poodle named Roy who was left at a mall because of a bad haircut.

Little Miss Chevious, the goat.

Needless to say, they're animal heroes.

Thanks to the Smiths' tireless dedication and love, their disabled animals recuperated and started thriving on the farm. And that's when Alison had an ingenious idea.

Why not bring this loveable squad around to local schools to help teach kids about empathy?

Just like that, the Compassion Crew was born.

The Compassion Crew — able to stop bullying with a single lick!

Alison took the Crew to Highland Acres, a local elementary school. She told the kids that the Crew “all have superpowers and they're called empathy and compassion," and then let them interact with her animals.

The result was nothing short of magical.

By using the animals as representations for people who look different, she was able to help the kids understand why bullying others is wrong.

“If you would not want to hurt this animal, why would you want to hurt a person with the same disability?" says Alison.

Dog members of the Compassion Crew, Scarlett (left) Roy (center), and G.I. Joe (right).

The lesson resonated with the kids so much, they wrote a number of letters to Alison thanking her for bringing her animal superheroes by.

Mowgli, the blind cat member of the Crew, made one of the biggest impressions.

A letter from one of the Highland Acres Elementary School kids.

In fact, Mowgli was actually the inspiration for Alison's dream project for the farm — their cat sanctuary Kitty City.

“We realized there was a big need in our area despite the great rescues that already existed," explains Alison.

So Kitty City acts as a fully-functioning adoption center, but it also provides a forever home for cats that, for whatever reason, can't be placed.

They also make it a priority to step in and take cats off death row at various local kill shelters when they run out of time. And once in the hands of the volunteers at the sanctuary, the cats receive nutritious food, medical care, and, most importantly, love, and attention.

Almost all the cats in Kitty City are adoptable, except, of course, for Mowgli who is a permanent member of the Smith family and the Compassion Crew.

Mowgli with another sanctuary animal friend.

That said, if you're interested in rescuing a blind cat, they have 15 others. Yes, they have some limitations, but they are just as loving and hilarious as any other cat.

While this new rescue endeavor has made it difficult for Alison to bring the Compassion Crew out to schools, it doesn't mean she's stopped.

In fact, she's beginning to offer on-site visits for kid groups like girl scout troops.

She hopes that this way, the Crew can continue to spread their anti-bullying message while she holds down the farm and all its working parts.

Atticus and his goat friend.

They're also always looking for volunteers, so if you happen to be in North Dakota, and want to spend a few hours surrounded by animals, now's your chance.

Or, if you don't live nearby, donations are always appreciated since the Smiths' have more than just a lack of helpers to worry about. They're up against brutally cold winters, which means they have to move their cat brood indoors from October through April. They're working on building out their indoor habitat, but the funds they can allocate are minimal.

All you have to do is look at what the Smiths have done to know they're brimming with empathy. And as long as their endeavors, like the Compassion Crew, prevail, they'll keep showing the next generation why compassion always wins.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

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Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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