Woman with injured donkey Woman with injured donkey A donkey recovering from the loss of a leg at the Pegasus Farms horse and donkey sanctuary, in Israel. (Photo: Pegasus Farms)

Farm animal sanctuaries provide refuge for homeless livestock

Horses, donkeys, goats, roosters and more find rest and relaxation at these shelters around the world.

Life on a farm is pretty hard for the animals, too. 

A surprising number of the world’s cows, pigs, donkeys, horses, sheep, goats, chickens and ducks wind up being abandoned in the wild by well-intentioned backyard farmers who discover they can no longer care for the animals, or by large farms when the animals have outlived their usefulness as workers. 

But now these animals are finding refuge in farm animal sanctuaries around the world, places where they can live out their days without having to work or contribute meat, eggs or milk for human consumption.

Public opposition to cruelty to farm animals is on the rise, according to Farm Sanctuary, which operates three shelters in New York and California, and recently announced the addition of Emily Deschanel, star of TV’s “Bones,” to its board of directors. In the decades since Farm Sanctuary began caring for animals in 1986, more sanctuaries have started up around the world to care for many more animals.

Goats gambol at Cedar Row Farm SanctuaryGoats gambol at Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. (Photo: Jon Clark/Flickr)

In southwestern Ontario, Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary has rescued hundreds of farm animals since it was founded by the Poole family in 1999. Often the animals are weak or sick and require rehabilitation. When possible, the Pooles place them in new homes.

Founded in 2004 by Jenny Brown and Doug Abel, Woodstock Sanctuary in Willow, N.Y., is a vegan B&B where the animals live out their days without having to contribute meat or milk. “Like our faithful dogs and lap-sitting cats, farm animals are feeling individuals who deserve to be treated with compassion and to live free from fear and suffering,” their mission statement reads.

The Pegasus horse and donkey sanctuary in Israel was founded by Zvika Tamuz. He had been rescuing animals on his private ranch since 1993 and, in 2007, joined with the World Society for the Protection of Animals to establish an educational visitor center at the sanctuary. The goal of Pegasus is twofold: to rehabilitate horses and donkeys in physical or mental distress and to educate the general public about the proper treatment of these animals.

Farm Sanctuary information boothA Farm Sanctuary information booth at DC VegFest 2012. (Photo: Compassion Over Killing/Flickr)

Want to start your own farm animal sanctuary? The first step should be to volunteer at an established one. Visit Sanctuaries.org to find a sanctuary in your state. To be listed, “shelters must not sell or breed animals or promote the consumption of farmed animals.”

Once you’ve spent a year or so learning the ropes, you can choose your location, make sure it is appropriately zoned for the types of animals you want to shelter, and find a veterinarian who works with those animals. Most sanctuaries operate as nonprofit corporations, so you’ll need to put in place a board of directors and file all the necessary applications to seek that status. Farm Sanctuary has a downloadable guide with information on accounting and record-keeping, staffing, media relations, fundraising and more.

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