Gratitude, And Compassion In Action: Sanctuaries Working Together

Welcome to our brand new website, lovingly created by our friend and long time supporter Clare B. Back in our first couple of years of operation, Clare contacted us about a pig she had rescued from being a pig roast. Wuzzle’s story can be found in the Meet Our Animals section. She has supported him financially all these years, and visits when she can. Anyone who operates a sanctuary can tell you how rare and wonderful this is, and how grateful we are for people like that. When you have a sanctuary filled with animals, many who landed here because no one cared about them, the gratitude you feel for those who continue to support them, or even just check in on them from time to time, is huge.

Gratitude is a big part of running a sanctuary. We are grateful to so many people. Our long term supporters, our monthly sponsors, people who just reach out to us out of the blue with gifts, donations, and physical help around the sanctuary and other local sanctuary owners who help with networking to get animals to safety and share what they have, whether it be special knowledge of a particular species, an item they may have an overabundance of that another sanctuary can use, sharing another sanctuary’s fundraising initiatives, or just being there to listen with compassion and an experienced ear.

Bentley’s story is a great example of compassion in action, where sanctuaries working together helped a family who had experienced a tragedy get their potbellied pig to safety.

In early November, many Ontario sanctuaries were made aware of a house explosion in Whitby. The explosion demolished the house, leaving a family and their potbellied pig Bentley homeless. Messages flew between sanctuary owners, and one stepped up to give Bentley a home. By dinnertime, a sanctuary spot at Green Living Organic Farm Sanctuary was secured, and my husband and I hit the road to pick him up and transport Bentley to them. We had seen the devastation to the home on the news, but arriving just after dark it was even more dismaying to see in person. Giant spot lights lit the street, the front of the home was fenced off with 10 foot fences, fire marshal trucks and police were on site. The family who had lived in the house were also there, and it was heartbreaking to see them standing on the sidewalk, having just lost everything they own. Bentley was in his pen around the back, and we thought we’d just be able to bring the large kennel we’d brought back there, get him in it, load him up and we’d be on our way. It turned out to be a much longer and stressful process. Only one person was allowed beyond the fence, due to the dangers presented by the crumbling house. Bentley’s mom went in and led him around the front, where we had the kennel set up just outside the tall fence. Bentley was understandably upset and nervous. We stood back for quite some time so as not to alarm Bentley any more than he already was, to allow her to try to coax him into the kennel with treats. Each time he’d get to the door of the kennel, something would spook him and he’d run off, trying to get back to his backyard. Eventually it became clear that a little more force would be needed, it was getting late and we still had a 3 hour drive to get him to his safe haven. Some boards were used to herd him, protesting loudly, to the door of the crate. Bentley’s mom was in tears, her young daughter was in tears, but we got Bentley into the kennel and the click of the door closing behind him was a huge relief for everyone. Bentley was loaded into our truck, hugs were exchanged and we were on our way. Arriving at Green Living Organic Farm Sanctuary after 10 o’clock, we got Bentley offloaded and into his new stall, lovingly prepared by Ali, with a mountain of straw, blankets and food and water. As soon as the kennel was opened, Bentley popped out and started exploring his spacious new stall like nothing had happened. Ali had him down for a belly rub in just a few minutes. We left Bentley in Ali’s capable hands, exhausted emotionally and physically. I am thankful to many for making this happen. My husband Bob, who had just had hernia surgery the week before. Ali at Green Living Organic Farm Sanctuary for giving Bentley a home and being the liaison with animal control in Whitby, Carla at Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary for reaching out to the family, and organizing offers of help, Kara at Ralphy’s Retreat, Animal Sanctuary for networking like mad, Esther’s Army for sharing Bentley’s plight on their facebook page and monitoring the situation, Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary for offering up a vehicle for picking up Bentley, Liane at Milo’s Mission Sanctuary for offering to help in any way possible as did Kirsten. Julie for offering him a foster placement, and of course Bentley’s family for doing everything in their power to get Bentley safe in the midst of their devastation. This truly was a case of it taking a village, and compassion in action.

Sherry Burnett