To the rescue: Ronnie Stanley’s heartfelt mission to help shelter dogs – Baltimore Ravens Blog

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — When Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley was 14, his parents bought two cocker spaniels for Christmas after Stanley begged his parents for a dog for years.

Eight days later, a babysitter accidentally left the pool door open and one of the puppies drowned. Stanley was driving home from a great basketball game when he learned his dog had died.

“I took it really badly, I felt helpless,” Stanley said. “I couldn’t do anything. It was hard.

Now, 13 years later, the All-Pro left tackle has become a driving force in helping dogs in need. He recently announced the launch of the Ronnie Stanley Foundation, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for rescue dogs and match them with those who have faced a challenge in life, such as chronic illness or emotional trauma.

The foundation has already placed three dogs in new homes and has three more in training.

“My life changed forever for the better when I adopted Lola, Rico and Kaia. Many people can benefit from the companionship that an animal can bring into their lives.”

Ronnie Stanley

“It brings immense joy,” Stanley said. “I just think it was great to show that this idea can work, and it works for different types of people, different walks of life, different issues, so I think there’s a lot of opportunity.”

In partnership with the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS), Stanley’s foundation will recommend rescue dogs for the program and then provide 30 days of training, food and housing with certified trainers. Once the family or individual has been selected, the foundation will arrange a meeting to ensure a favorable match and provide the new home with a crate, dog bed, bowls, food and toys.

Jonathan Birckhead is a US Navy veteran who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after touring Iraq during Desert Storm. He received Garrison, a 2-year-old abandoned pit bull mix.

“He definitely impacted not just me but my whole family,” Birckhead told ESPN. “He’s a lovely ball of energy. It seems his whole mission in life is to give love and to get it. So might as well call him Garrison Birckhead.”

A 2018 study by researchers at Purdue University reported that veterans with service dogs had a 22% higher rate of life satisfaction. It also found that veterans with service dogs had significantly lower overall PTSD symptom severity, including increased overall psychological well-being, ability to cope better with anxiety attacks, and levels of anxiety. social isolation.

“He’s always upbeat, and sometimes you need that,” Birckhead said. “When sometimes you’re dealing with PTSD, you have your good days and your not so good days. There’s a constant flow of adorableness.”

Help the Hometown Shelter

Stanley has first-hand experience when it comes to rescuing dogs.

A month after being the 6th pick in the 2016 draft, Stanley entered the BARCS and surprised those at the shelter by not asking for a puppy. He had a different question instead.

“Which dog has been at the shelter the longest that no one wants? Stanley asked.

Stanley was introduced to Lola, a then 6-year-old pit bull who had been found locked in a room in an empty house with no food or water. It looked like she was trying to eat through the walls and the door to escape.

“Ronnie immediately fell in love with her and took her home,” said Bailey Deacon, Director of Community Engagement for BARCS.

Since then, Stanley has rescued two more dogs, Rico and Kaia.

“My life changed forever for the better when I adopted Lola, Rico and Kaia,” Stanley said. “Many people can benefit from the companionship an animal can bring into their lives.”

For years, people have asked BARCS if the shelter has any animals trained to be emotional support or service dogs. But BARCS simply did not have the capacity or the resources to do so. It is an open admission non-profit shelter that receives an average of 10,000 animals per year.

Prior to BARCS, the city of Baltimore operated the shelter and the euthanasia rate was 98%. Now in its 17th year, BARCS saves 90% of animals.

So when Stanley approached BARCS about this idea for his foundation, Deacon wasn’t surprised that the program involved shelter dogs and not puppies from a breeder.

“He saw the value that shelter animals can bring to families,” Deacon said. “They brought value to his life and really made his home here in Baltimore a real home.

“There are many programs that train dogs to be service animals, emotional support animals. And while these are amazing and wonderful, Ronnie went a step further and said, “I think we can do it with shelter dogs. I think they’re just as smart, just as capable and just as loving as a puppy that’s been trained since a baby.'”

Stanley’s foundation will continue to hold free training sessions and ongoing check-ins with the family. The goal is to expand services to communities outside of Baltimore in the future.

“I really appreciate the fact that I can not only help animals, but kind of build that bridge or that connection between humans,” Stanley said. “It’s just about trying to show people how each species can benefit each other if done right.”

Determined to prove the skeptics wrong

As much of an impact as Stanley makes off the field, he hopes to return to making the same as quarterback blind protector Lamar Jackson.

Stanley, 27, has heard questions about whether he will play at the same level after missing 28 of the Ravens’ last 29 games (including the playoffs) and being placed on the injured list in consecutive seasons.

“I’m okay with people doubting me,” Stanley said. “I’m just thrilled to prove a lot of people wrong and show the people who support me and believe in me that I can be back to who I was, and even better.”

Stanley, a first-team All-Pro and 2019 Pro Bowl player, injured his ankle for the first time two days after signing a five-year, $98.75 million extension on October 30. 2020. He broke his left ankle when Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt inadvertently rolled over the back of Stanley’s lower leg while trying to sack Jackson.

The second-highest-paid offensive tackle in the NFL, Stanley has had two ankle surgeries before this season. After being sidelined the entire offseason and the first nine days of training camp, he returned to play in the season opener in Las Vegas but visibly struggled. He did not play thereafter and was placed on the injured reserve on October 19.

“I wouldn’t say I felt perfectly fine,” Stanley said. “I was really pushing, trying to be a leader and a player for my team, but yeah, I wouldn’t say it was okay.”

Last month, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said it was his mistake to expect Stanley to return to full strength in 2021. DeCosta said he was optimistic about Stanley for the season future.

“I really believe Ronnie is going to be back this year and play good football, play winning football and be back to being the Ronnie Stanley who was an All-Pro left tackle,” DeCosta said. “If he can do that, it will be a huge, huge advantage for us in the future.

Looking back, Stanley said he probably should have waited longer before rushing to train and play in games in 2021. This time he won’t overstep what he should be doing and will make sure he has enough ankle strength before returning.

“I’m going to make sure everything is okay before I get back into things,” Stanley said. “I think that’s probably going to make the difference.”

Stanley then added, “I’m kinda looking forward to getting back to work and getting back to myself.”

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