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Ringtails Unleashed LLC: Lois Wellard of Etna gives animals a second chance

Lois Wellard cares for many types of animals, including rabbits, donkeys, horses, goats and others.

Lois Wellard came to Star Valley eight years ago and began raising rabbits, which has now transformed into something completely unexpected.

“We had a goat or two and a couple horses. It seemed, every year, around fall, people would realize how much work animals were in the winter and I would get call, after call, after call to take these animals.”

Raccoon Maddie lives the high life in the “Racoon Room”

Wellard’s property got so full, she had to start to turn animals away as they tried to rehome the ones they had. Wellard had to care for a three week old baby raccoon left by her son. She took on the responsibility to feed it every two hours.

“By the time [the raccoon] was two months old, I was hooked. The genius level, the problem solving, and the love alone that they give is phenomenal. Completely different from what we’re led to believe as youngsters, that they are pests, a nuisance and vicious.”

Some raccoons, like all animals, do fit into the box of being dangerous, but Wellard has a passion to educate the public and those in the area that this is not usually the case. Each animal has an important role to play, including raccoons.

This love for the safety of animals, led to the creation of Ringtails Unleashed, LLC.

“Last year, winter blew in too early and raccoons wouldn’t have time to den up, so I have 15 raccoons on my property that winter here.” Once it warms up enough Wellard will safely deliver the racoons deeper in the forest to continue their roles in nature.

Some raccoons stick around, some leave for a year and come back. Others have made friends with wild racoons at a nearby river and might be spotted now and again, but the main goal is to get them to a safe place that is away from the homes of those who don’t want them around.

Oscar stops by for a snack.

There is a “Raccoon Room” at Wellard’s home to provide a safe place for these raccoons to come and go as they please until it is time to be released further into the forest, away from homes.

“There’s a few that I have that are non-releasable and I get a lot of volunteers in the summer,” says Wellard. “I’m down to horses, donkeys, a couple goats, racoons, and a couple skunks.” Wellard also has a couple of dogs, but does not take in cats or dogs. She says that is where Lucky’s Place and other animal shelters are needed and used.

Volunteers get to help with the animals and get educated on the animals at the same time. “It’s a win-win on both sides.”

Wellard has worked with local fishermen and many neighbors to do what is best for all of these animals that need extra care by someone.

“They are not pets,” says Wellard. They are wild animals that need help, until they don’t.”

Wellard is also known to many, specifically in Star Valley Ranch, as the “Skunk Lady” because she understands how to safely and humanly relocate the animal.

If you have any questions, would like to learn more, or want to see photos and videos of what Wellard does at Ringtails Unleashed, visit her Facebook page a

Wellard’s dog sleeps next to one of her raccoons. The German Shepherd helps guard the racoons from predators.
Let us know what you think!


  1. So she “relocates” them deep in the forest. Not deep enough. Over the past few years they all seem to end up at my house. Then I have to relocate them

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