Now, a new chapter is unfolding, as Rio Tinto Borates has sold nearly 2,000 acres of the legacy site to the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (ARC) at a discounted price. Here, within the centre’s wolf sanctuary, an innovative programme is helping to heal combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).



“Rio Tinto is focused on sustainable development and being a corporate citizen to our surrounding communities,” said Nathan Francis, land manager at Rio Tinto Borates.

“We act on opportunities to benefit the community and environment where we can. With this particular sale, I believe we accomplished that.”

A sanctuary for wolves and warriors

The centre, which originally encompassed 20 acres of land adjacent to the legacy site, is home to more than three-dozen wolves and wolf-dogs. The animals are rescued from around the US and rehabilitated on the property.


Matthew Simmons, centre co-founder, explained that the wolf-dogs that Lockwood ARC cares for are the result of people breeding a wolf with a dog, and then breeding the offspring with wolves for several generations.


These animals can neither be domesticated, nor returned to the wild. The wolf-dogs at Lockwood ARC live in an “in-between” world – not quite wolves and not quite dogs. Similarly, many veterans who have served their country no longer feel quite at home as civilians, once their military service ends. That’s why Matthew and his wife, Lorin Lindner, centre co-founder and clinical psychologist, decided to merge the two worlds by creating the Warriors and Wolves programme in 2011.

2,000

acres of former Rio Tinto Borates land now part of the wolf sanctuary

Saving lives through natural partnerships

The programme uses a form of eco-therapy – enlisting animals and using nature in the healing process – to create a safe environment for veterans to discuss their transition into civilian life. In addition to support from licensed therapists and counsellors, each veteran is paired with a wolf and another veteran who is further along in the programme. The veterans are given the opportunity to work closely with the animals; both form close bonds with, and find solace in, each other.


“We believe all sentient beings that have suffered trauma can communicate or partner with a different species that suffered a similar problem,” said Matthew, adding the wolves choose their partner veteran, not vice versa, and choose only once. The programme directly assists 12 veterans, and many more benefit as centre volunteers. With the acquisition of the legacy site, Matthew hopes to see that number grow.

"As it stands right now, between 22 and 28 veterans commit suicide each day because of PTSD or survivors’ guilt,” he said. “PTSD is hidden deep down inside these men and women. In buying this land, we are going to be able to help more veterans recover.

“We are so grateful to Rio Tinto Borates. They are saving lives with this gift."


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Rio Tinto Borates’ California Operations general manager Isabelle Brassard, Matthew Simmons, Lockwood ARC co-founder, and Rio Tinto Borates’ Wilmington Operations manager Tod Diebold at a charity gala with one of the wolf-dogs

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Animal Rescue Center co-founders Lorin Lindner and Matthew Simmons with a rescued wolf-dog

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Matthew Simmons, co-founder of the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center, with wolf-dog Huey. Huey was found wandering the streets of Houston, Texas

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Rider, one of the Center’s resident wolf-dogs