Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Animal Lovers
Rescue organization encourages sponsorships in the spirit of the season.
Dandypants, the rooster, beat it through the back alleys of Los Angeles and escaped a live market where he was about to be sold as someone’s dinner. He made it to safety, thanks to animal control officers, and ultimately found a home at Farm Sanctuary.
This holiday season, animal lovers looking for a last-minute gift or stocking stuffer can give a present that will support Dandypants or a few of his friends – Agnes, the ewe, Noel, the goat or Jane, the piglet –all year long.
According to Meredith Turner, spokeswoman for the farm animal rescue organization and sanctuary, a holiday sponsorship, which starts for as little as $10 (for a chicken), helps Farm Sanctuary pay for the animals’ food and care, “while providing last-minute shoppers with a one-of-a-kind gift solution for the person on their list who, quite literally, has everything.”
The gift package includes a color photo of the farm animal, an “adoption” certificate and details about arranging a VIP tour to visit the animal at one of Farm Sanctuary’s refuges, she said.
Dandypants, for example, lives at Animal Acres in Acton, Calif., which Farm Sanctuary recently took over, according to Susie Coston, the organization’s national shelter director. Agnes, the ewe, also is at Animal Acres, while Jane, the piglet, lives at the New York shelter and Noel, the goat, is at the Orland, Calif. Farm.
Dandypants is the only one of the four who engineered an escape, but as incredible as it may sound, stories just like his happen over and over, she said. Animals on the way to slaughter or for sale at live markets will seize the moment to escape. Chickens rank among the top escape artists, she said. “We have 400 to 500 chickens,” at Farm Sanctuary, she said. “They fly up and take off, and they’re really fast.”
But cattle, pigs and goats escape, too, she said. Their best shot at freedom comes when they are being shuffled off a transport truck into a slaughter facility. As the animals are herded up a ramp, they can slip over the sides and run away.
“Sheep and goats are better jumpers,” she said, and a lot of people, including the slaughterhouse workers, are surprised by how high they can leap.
“They use their back legs, and they can really get some air,” she said. “It’s a flight response. I really love it when we get to take them in.” Coston, unfortunately, has also been on the other end of the telephone and pleading for permission to shelter an escaped animal when she has heard the gunshot go off.
Animal control officers did save Dandypants, though, after they caught him, and they also saved Agnes, also now safe at Animal Acres. She was seized in a raid after authorities received reports about animal neglect at a slaughterhouse outside L.A., Coston said.
“In Los Angeles County, there are a lot of backyard butchers,” Coston said, using the term that describes farmers who butcher their own livestock or have the animals dispatched at another small farm.
At the big slaughterhouses, she said, the animals die the day they arrive, but that’s not the case at the small operations. Agnes had been living at the backyard slaughterhouse for some time before she was rescued, Coston said.
Typically, government inspectors do not check these facilities, and the animals are often subjected to inhumane treatment. But with few laws to protect these animals, Coston said, “the conditions have to be really repulsive” before animal control officers are compelled to move in and rescue the animals.
According to Turner, Agnes had been “severely” neglected but recovered at Animal Acres.
Jane, the piglet, was in a factory farm when the summer floods hit and she was rescued by an animal advocate and Farm Sanctuary supporter. Jane now stays in the Watkins Glen, New York shelter.
The most heart-wrenching story, though, belongs to Noel, a baby goat who was saved from almost certain death because a police officer heard his cries, Coston said.
Baby goats are vocal, Coston said, and they also mimic human voices. “They sound like they’re saying ‘Mom,” she said. “They do sound like babies.”
Noel was weak when he was discovered but was able to bleat loudly enough to draw the police officer’s attention to the trunk of the car.
That’s where police found him “hog-tied” and dehydrated, Coston said.
“This baby goat was almost dead,” she said. Noel had been locked in the trunk of a car for two days without food or water when the police officer pulled the car over, Coston said. Incredible as it may sound, this is not the only time an animal has been found in a car trunk, she added.
Noel was treated at a Santa Clara, Calif. shelter and eventually was moved to the Farm Sanctuary refuge in Orland, Calif.
“The rescued animals at Farm Sanctuary are finally safe from harm,” Turner said, “but they rely on sponsorship support for their daily care.”
Adopting one of them is “a chance to create happy endings for animals in need and bring them comfort and joy,” she said. “It’s a gift you can feel great about giving and receiving.”
How to Help: To give a gift sponsorship and help Farm Sanctuary take care of Noel, Dandypants, Agnes, Jane and other rescued animals, go to farmsanctuary.org and click on Jane the piglet’s picture.
Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.
Are you donating to or volunteering at animal shelters this holiday season? How do you celebrate animal rescue over the holidays? Tell us below!
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