rinalia (rinalia) wrote,

With compassion for all life

Our local paper did a nice piece on the move. If you can sign up to leave a comment, that would be nice. Or email the author and let her know it was nice to see a positive animal story. Or just click the "recommend" button near the top of the article, that would be great.

If you think your last move was a logistical challenge, try moving more than 200 animals to a new home a 2-hour drive away.

That's just what Animal Place, a sanctuary for farmed animals, did on a recent weekend.

It took staff, a dedicated group of volunteers and 13 trailers to transport the animals from their 60-acre home in Vacaville to their new facilities located on 600 acres on McCourtney Road in Grass Valley.

According to Kim Sturla, executive director and cofounder of Animal Place, the move “went beautifully.” She attributed it to an organized team at both locations. The move, three years in the making, was choreographed with precision, allowing for a calm transition for the animals.

The new residents quickly began enjoying life in their new surroundings with larger barns and pastures to explore. Shortly after arrival, many of the potbelly pigs could be seen chomping and rooting through the long, damp grass in their new pasture. They would soon discover the seasonal creek that runs through it, which will undoubtedly become one of their favorite spots during the summer months.

Not only are the animals adjusting to the completely new surroundings, but most the staff of Animal Place also made the move.

“Everyone is adjusting as a group, new homes, new surroundings, new everything for everyone,” said Sturla.

The sanctuary

Animal Place, a nonprofit funded exclusively by donation, was founded 21 years ago in Vacaville. Their mission is to extend compassion to all life, farmed animals in particular, accomplished through sanctuary, education and legislation.

Their journey to Grass Valley started about three years ago, when they decided it was time for expansion.

According to Sturla, the requirements were a large parcel that could be subdivided, in an area with cooler temperatures than the Vacaville location, with available water and within driving distance of UC Davis, where the animals receive veterinary care. When she saw the property on McCourtney Road, she knew there was no need to look further, it met the criteria perfectly.

The main house now serves as offices. New barns were added to house the potbellies, chickens, rabbits and pigs. An existing barn was modified for the cattle and goats.

Miles of fencing was added to enclose areas to keep the animals separate. In Vacaville, they commingled, but at the request of the staff, they will now be kept separate for ease of care. Two staff members live on site providing round-the-clock supervision.

Going from 60 acres to 600 acres has been nothing short of thrilling for the staff and animals, but it has its challenges, too. To help them navigate the property quickly and efficiently, workers can be seen pedaling on donated bicycles from one area to another.

Two-way radios also help them keep in constant contact.

A 4-acre organic garden is in the works, and will be harvested to feed the animals, as well as staff and volunteers. Once in full swing, the public may be invited to share the bounty.

The sanctuary is expected to open to the public in June.

Four-legged and fine-feathered residents

Animals come to Animal Place through many sources, including research facilities, slaughterhouses, factory farms and cruelty or neglect cases. The sanctuary becomes their home for life, where they have the opportunity to grow old in a compassionate environment.

Bruce, the pig, is one such resident. He is a fine, portly fellow who shares a special bond with Sturla.

“Oh, I love this pig,” she says while kneeling near him in a pasture exchanging grunts in greeting.

Bruce was a starvation case reported by a concerned neighbor of his owner in Vacaville.

“Because it was local, I drove out on a Sunday to see what was going on,” said Sturla.

What she found was a pig, “just skin and bones,” without shelter or food on a cold, winter day. She took photos, intending to leave and contact authorities, but soon realized that she couldn't bear to leave him behind.

Sturla contacted the owner, hoping he would release the animal to her care on the spot. Instead, he made excuses for Bruce's deteriorated condition and refused to turn him over voluntarily.

Sturla then filed cruelty charges, presenting the photos as evidence. She was able to take custody of Bruce within 48 hours.

“All he did for the first 3 or 4 months was eat,” she said.

The furthest barn houses hens, chickens and turkeys, of all shapes and sizes, cluck, strut and crow. Some can be seen taking dust baths or basking in the sun, but most are busy exploring their new digs. They are more active than normal while getting used to their new place, explains Sturla.

Along with the pigs and chickens, goats, cattle, sheep, rabbits, potbelly pigs and turkeys call the lush, green acreage their home.

Education key

Guided and self-guided tours will allow visitors to meet and learn more about sanctuary residents. School groups are also encouraged to visit.

Veganism is promoted and part of their educational outreach “out of respect for the animals at the sanctuary, most of whom would have been killed for consumption, if Animal

Place had not been there for them,” according to the organization's Web site.

A Veggie Club will offer an opportunity for anyone interested in veganism to gather, share food and learn more about plant-based diet. Vegan cooking classes are also planned.

Volunteer opportunities include making trails, giving tours, mucking out barns, interaction with the animals, and more.

“We need all the volunteers we can get,” said Sturla.

Those interested in helping can register for an orientation online.

Spend a few hours with the animals, stroll through the lush, green pastures, listen to the sounds of nature, and you will find it is not only an Animal Place, but also a People Place, a place of renewal and respite for all.

For more information on Animal Place, visit www.animalplace.org or call (530) 477-1757. The sanctuary is located at 17314 McCourtney Rd. in Grass Valley.

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