Part Two: Their stories

What a tiny Angora rabbit and a 700-pound pig have in common

Peace Ridge Sanctuary
Thu, 11/16/2017 - 11:00am

BROOKS—Nearly every type of farm animal at Peace Ridge Sanctuary has its own barn and space to roam. And each animal has its own story, which reveals both sides of human nature: from people who’ve treated them carelessly, cruelly, and the compassion of others, who see their intrinsic value.

 The pigs  

There are 21 pigs on the farm and the pot bellied pigs, with their stiff, bristled hair and roly-poly bodies come charging out of the barn, happy to be pet. Melissa Andrews, one of farm’s long-term volunteers, has the background on every one of them.
“Pigs have snouts that are made for rooting and pushing up dirt,” she said. ““They just really enjoy rooting around five acres of this stumpy, forested ground.”
She points to one in the field, Olivia. They rescued Olivia when her owner was upset that she dug up the kitchen floor and gave her up.
“They kept her in the kitchen and of course, pot bellied pigs are not going to be good as an indoor pet,” said Andrews. They need to be occupied and allowed the opportunity to engage in their natural behaviors. “So, a lot of pot-bellied pigs get abandoned to kill shelters because people aren’t able to handle their true nature.”

This is our second story in a three-part series on Peace Ridge Sanctuary
• Rescued farm animals get a better life at Peace Ridge Sanctuary

Andrews said these animals usually end up on Craig’s List and get bought and sold repeatedly. “By the time they are a couple of years old, they’ve had a half a dozen homes they’ve been passed around to,” she said.

Inside the heated barn, the larger breeds of pigs are content to lie around and lounge. Missy is their largest, weighing 700 pounds. “Missy was discovered wandering down a rural road in Lincoln County covered in ice,” said Andrews. “The state went to investigate and found the farmers had no shelter for any of their pigs, so she was seized. And because of her, all the rest of the animals who were also severely neglected were also taken, so she rescued them all. She is a super hero.”

The cows

Theo is a brown and white cow who Peace Ridge volunteers discovered when they went to investigate a dog cruelty case. A woman had bought Theo on the side of road for $10 to keep him for veal. She had been raising him in such deplorable conditions, the state stepped in. “Veal is naturally depleting,” said Andrews. “When a young cow is raised for its meat, it’s fed an iron-deficient diet to keep the muscles lean and they become anemic. He’s doing so much better now.”

Learning how badly so many of these rescued animals were cared for hits some people hard.

“We don’t tell these stories to bum people out, but to explain what these animals have been through, and even though that discomfort may be there in hearing it, it drives the work that we do,” said Andrews. 

She explained that Theo and his companion, black and white Sammy, were the typical victims of the dairy industry. The dairy industry is primarily interested in producing milk from cows, but to do that, the cow has to be pregnant. Once the calf is delivered, its value is lessened, because the mother cow’s milk is reserved for the industry, not for the calf. “The calves are pretty much worthless in the industry, unless they are raised for veal, which is how we are able to bargain for their lives so easily,” she said. Andrews emphasized that Peace Ridge has a policy not to outright purchase a neglected animal, lest it become part of the commercial process they are trying to save the animals from. Often, they are seized by the state—or surrendered by owners happy to be absolved of the responsibility.

The horses

Two draft horses seized from an Amish farm stand next to one another by the fence, allowing people to brush their mane and touch their muzzles. Both draft horses have visible scars on their muzzles from harnesses that once bit into their flesh. “The state went to investigate a horse who’d starved to death and found these two,” said Andrews. “Max was half the weight then as he is now, 1,100 pounds. He’s twice that now and doing very well.” 

Beside them are retired race hoses, who never have to run again, unless they feel like it. And no one ever rides them.

The goats

The goats have the most disturbing story of all. In 2014, (before the farm moved to Brooks), nearly 30 goats were discovered on the second floor of a barn that had not been cleared in a decade. The barn was stacked so high in waste and filth, the goats were trapped and couldn’t get out. Many broke their horns on the rafters, just trying to squeeze through, and may of their horns had to be amputated. Seventeen of the female goats were also pregnant at the time, but so depleted, they weren’t healthy enough to nurse. So after they gave birth, the staff and volunteers of Peace Ridge bottlefed 12 of the babies round the clock for two months in the kitchen of the main house, sleeping in shifts. The happy ending to this story is that all of the babies survived and were reunited with their mothers and today, all of the goats share a barn with the sheep and they have (number of acres) to roam.

There are more types of animals and more stories, but this is a snapshot of what bonds the staff and volunteers to the creatures they care for. From one of their 50 adoptable rabbits to Missy, the 700-pound pig, each animal is no longer a beast of burden. Each has an identity and a guaranteed future.

“The hardest thing we ever have to do is make the decision not to take an animal,” said Andrews. “We have 790 acres, but it’s the financial aspect: the money for food, medicine, and individualized vet care. Sometimes we have to take an animal out of state for surgery, because the field is so specialized.”

Peace Ridge Sanctuary operates as a 501-C3 and animal shelter runs mostly on volunteer power with 15 to 25 volunteers year round, but winter tends to draw fewer volunteers. Their next volunteer orientation is November 18 at 11 a.m. for people interested in joining us for consistent weekly volunteerships.

To learn more visit: Peace Ridge Sanctuary.

Look for our next story coming soon in this series: Napolean the 20 pound turkey who hates humans and the woman who loves him

Related Story: Rescued farm animals get a better life at Peace Ridge Sanctuary

Kay Stephens can be reached at