People helping animals helping people

Noah’s Arc Sanctuary rehabilitates

by Tim Walker

Photo: Jacob Dabe, age 10, with Noah’s Arc co-founder Daniel Kelty; photo Stephen Kelty


Whether you’re an orphaned deer, a groundhog with seizures or a person coping with emotional diculties, Daniel Kelty, one of the founders of Noah’s Arc Sanctuary and a truly caring individual, wants to help you. Five minutes into a conversation with the licensed therapist, and his boundless love of animals, people and doing all he can to help both, is obvious.Daniel and his partner Stephen Kelty are the founders of Noah’s Arc Sanctuary, a facil-ity located in Trotwood which has been reha-bilitating injured and orphaned wild animals since 2011. e initial mission of the sanctu-ary was to preserve wildlife in Ohio through animal rehabilitation and public education. e Keltys decided to become licensed wildlife rehabilitators, and then obtained all the neces-sary training and permits required by the state of Ohio so they could heal and then exhibit the animals they rescue. But while help-ing wildlife is still the stated goal of the facil-ity, the priorities have shied slightly. “When we rst started out, we really began with a focus of ‘rehab and release,’” Kelty explains. “And while that’s a very im-portant thing to do, my personal background is in psychology and therapy, so I was really searching for a way to incorporate my passion for animals and my professional work in therapy that I was doing at the time. So I thought why not combine the two ideas and have it be like an educational/conservation focus?”“My partner and I had adopted two lile boys through the foster care system,” he continues. “And the one thing I noticed right away was that our one lile boy, who suers from fetal alcohol syndrome, had a very distinct connection with the animals that he didn’t have with people necessarily. And so I thought let’s do some-thing here – why not create something, a resource that can help the community? So I did some research on trauma-focused thera-pies and how to nd the healing connection between people and nature, and how to reju-venate that.”Just a few of the animals Noah’s Arc Sanc-tuary cares for and provides homes to are several white-tailed deer – one of the cen-ter’s main aractions – as well as miniature horses, pigs, raccoons, foxes, dogs, peacocks and a groundhog who suers from seizures.Groundhog sei-zures? “Yes, I actu-ally got him from my veterinarian,” Kelty says. “We worked very closely with him when we rst started out, and we still do. He called me one day and said ‘Hey, someone just brought in this baby groundhog that is suering from seizures. I’m still bole-feeding it, and we have the seizures under control, but there’s no way he can survive in the wild. Do you want him?’ And I said ‘Of course!’ So I give him 0.5 mg of phenobar-bital twice a day and that completely prevents his seizures. Because of his neurological disor-der he’s also very docile – he’ll just sit in your lap and just fall asleep.” Noah’s Arc Sanctuary hosts anywhere from ve to 10 visitors per week for therapeutic sessions, with ages ranging from a three-year-old toddler to a woman in her 70s. Clients are referred through a variety of sources, from local agencies and medi-cal professionals to word-of-mouth and Facebook, and the facility accepts private insur-ance as well as Medicaid and Caresource. “is is a very exciting time for us here,” Kelty continues. “We are a 501c3 nonprot and also a USDA-licensed facility. Just in the past year, we’ve started our private practice therapy program utilizing animal-assisted therapy. I’m an independent licensed therapist, licensed by the state of Ohio. We also hold a current education per-mit, which allows us to keep some wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild – such as the groundhog we mentioned. e animals that we rehab are used for educa-tion. I also conduct wildlife seminars at local schools and talk to hundreds of kids at a time about ecosystems, how to protect them and the roles that specic animals play. e indi-vidual therapy I do is called Eco-erapy. It’s based on the theory that nature heals, and our connection with Earth and its systems are at the core. Eco-therapists believe that the earth has a self-righting capacity through complex systems of integrated balance, and that if we as humans can harmonize with these systems, we will experience increased healing. In tak-ing care of the earth, we also take care of our-selves.”With years of medical and scientic research promoting the many benets of ani-mals when used in therapeutic seings, it seems obvious that Daniel and Stephen Kelty are providing a valuable and unique service to the people – and the wildlife – of the Dayton area. rough their hard work, they have been able to help numerous animals and individu-als heal themselves, all through exploring and utilizing that connection that exists between humans and the nature we’re a part of.

To contact Noah’s Arc Sactuary, please call 937.232.4990. For more information, please visit

Tim Walker, a freelance writer for the Dayton City Paper, is 49 years old, has long hair and tattoos, and loves pizza and Thomas Pynchon. He was raised by wolves after being abandoned as a child by his family in West Virginia

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