Sanctuary Stories

Fur farms are slaughtering mink by the millions, but Olaf found a way out to the good life

A white-furred, pink-nosed mink looks curiously towards the camera lens from a hammock in a cage.
A white-furred, pink-nosed mink looks curiously towards the camera lens from a hammock in a cage.
Olaf at Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary. Photos provided and taken by Beth Randall, unless otherwise noted

When Beth Randall started feeling sick with Covid-19 symptoms in March, before testing was widely available, she knew right away she needed to stay out of the ferret and mink room at her sanctuary. As much of the world was just learning about the virus, the president and founder of Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary in Northern Illinois was already aware that ferrets and mink are uniquely susceptible, and started taking precautions.

Today, Randall is recovered and well, but also heartbroken to learn that mink can spread the virus back to humans in mutated forms, leading to the culling of…


Sanctuary Stories

Delilah is a special girl, a beautiful living reminder that turkeys are people too

A person in a blue flannel shirt, mask, and hat holds a cute young white turkey who seems to be looking at the camera
A person in a blue flannel shirt, mask, and hat holds a cute young white turkey who seems to be looking at the camera
Photos courtesy of Zoe Rosenberg

Driving past the slaughterhouse in Moroni, Utah, where countless turkeys are killed each year, Zoe Rosenberg, 18-year-old founder of Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary in California, says all you can see surrounding it are farms. “When you’re standing at the slaughterhouse, you can just look over and see the hills, sheds everywhere, for miles and mile and miles; hundreds of thousands of turkeys.” It’s from these farms, and at this slaughterhouse, where Rosenberg, along with activists from Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), have been rescuing turkeys for the past three years, in cooperation with the new slaughterhouse owner. …


Sanctuary Stories

Advocates like Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary rescue individuals like Badger from a brutal end in Canada’s horse meat export business

Keryn Denroche, a woman with short gray hair and a gray mask, poses with a soft looking brown horse on her farm sanctuary
Keryn Denroche, a woman with short gray hair and a gray mask, poses with a soft looking brown horse on her farm sanctuary
Denroche and Badger. Photo provided by Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary

Most North Americans don’t consider horses a source of food, and many recoil at the idea. Yet unbeknownst to most, Canada is one of the biggest exporters of horsemeat and live horses destined for consumption, thousands shipped and stuffed into crates per year, in the world. For years, activists have been trying to expose the industry and shut it down, while behind the scenes, advocates have been rescuing horses bound for slaughter.

Keryn Denroche, founder and director of Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary on Canada’s west coast, is one of those advocates, and the sanctuary’s resident horse, Badger, is proof that…


A group of ducks congregate on some garden rocks and shallow water, with green trees and blue skies in the background
A group of ducks congregate on some garden rocks and shallow water, with green trees and blue skies in the background
All photos provided by Unity Farm Sanctuary

Sanctuary Stories

Purchased to provide comfort, cuteness, or social media clout, ducklings are often abandoned as they grow into ducks

Since the spring, Unity Farm Sanctuary co-founder Kathy Halamka has been coping with a sudden surge of new feathered residents. There are 23 of these “lockdown ducklings” now at the Sherborn, Massachusetts sanctuary, but, says Halamka, they are just a small part of a much bigger problem that is impacting sanctuaries across North America: baby ducks used for temporary entertainment during the Covid-19 lockdown, now with nowhere to go.

Of the ducks currently under Halamka’s care, some arrived in a cardboard box dumped on the sanctuary’s driveway, some were called in by desperate owners looking for a way out, and…


Sanctuary Stories

Lola and Phoenix are in for the good life now that they’ve found sanctuary at The Good Place

Two white chickens with bright red head combs stand behind a wire mesh fence.
Two white chickens with bright red head combs stand behind a wire mesh fence.
Lola and Phoenix. Photo: Jessica Scott-Reid

On a quiet highway not far from the longitudinal centre of Canada, a big red barn and a sprawling plot of prairie land offer refuge to an assortment of farmed animals, each saved from some form of human exploitation. It’s simply and aptly named The Good Place, and it’s where two young hens, now named Lola and Phoenix, are learning to feel safe after surviving the unimaginable.

In early July, members of Manitoba’s animal rescue community got a call about a live hen found at local landfill. …


Sanctuary Stories

2 piglets rescued from a factory farm are named for someone who wanted every pig to have a chance at the good life

2 white-and-brown spotted piglets cuddling on a blanket on the floor next to some dog crates.
2 white-and-brown spotted piglets cuddling on a blanket on the floor next to some dog crates.
Regan and Russell. Photos: Arthur’s Acres

On the grounds of a former backyard slaughterhouse now resides new life, new freedom and new hope, and at a time when many animal lovers could really use it. At Arthur’s Acres pig sanctuary in New York, two pigs recently rescued from a factory farm now hold an important namesake, that of Regan Russell, the dedicated activist who was killed this month by a truck carrying pigs to a slaughterhouse in Ontario, Canada.

Pigs Regan and Russell may not know it, but they are now helping to carry out Russell’s legacy by living out their lives as she would have…


Sanctuary Stories

Rescued from a zoo that’s since been shut down, 3 little goats finally have a respite from the stress and anxiety of their past life

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Paddy and Shamus. All photos courtesy of Wendy Lee Riley

With pandemic restrictions lifting in many regions across North America, one animal sanctuary owner wants parents of stir-crazy kids to reconsider a classic outdoor summer activity: petting zoos. Wendy Lee Riley, owner of R and R Ranch Sanctuary in BC, Canada, would rather parents and children learn of Paddy, Shamus and Nanny, the three little goats who offer a message that petting zoos are not the innocent family fun they are made out to be.

The petting zoo that Paddy, Shamus and Nanny originated from “was one of those typical ‘take the baby when they are a couple of hours…


Sanctuary Stories

Many animals have headed to gas chambers after Covid-19 outbreak forced factory farming operations to close. These were the lucky ones.

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Photos provided by Shawn Camp

When Shawn Camp saw a post making the rounds on Facebook, about a farmer in Iowa giving away chickens, she immediately gathered a team and sprang into action. Camp is the founder and executive director of Iowa Farm Sanctuary, one of a number of groups currently saving animals from farming operations shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plummeting demand for meat due to shuttered restaurants, schools and hotels, and closures, or slowing of slaughterhouses due to workers falling ill, have left many farmers across North America with a surplus of animals. As a result, millions of animals are being…


Sanctuary Stories

When universities shut down, labs close, and the animals caged there die. Beagle Freedom Project is trying to give them another chance.

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Duchess and Georgie. Photos provided by Mati Nabhan

When COVID-19 hit the US, universities across the country shut their doors. Shannon Keith, the president and founder of The Beagle Freedom Project, anticipated that would also include laboratories. “And we know that that means,” she says. “Usually that means they are just going to kill the animals. They aren’t going to take any time to try to find rescues to take them.” The Beagle Freedom Project is a non-profit organization that rescues, rehabs and re-homes a variety of animals from laboratories and shelters. …


Sanctuary Stories

Remy was terrified of humans after her initial rescue, but now she loves to play and snuggle

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Photos and videos provided by No Dogs Left Behind

In the midst of these turbulent times, Tina Peters is grateful that there is increasing attention on the cruelty inherent in the global animal trade and in China’s outdoor slaughterhouses. Peters is the vice president for Beijing-based animal rescue group, No Dogs Left Behind. The group, founded in 2016 by American Jeff Beri, specializes in emergency response evacuations of dogs from wet markets and other parts of China. As much of the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic, and focuses on the virus’s possible origin in a wet market, Peters says Pandora’s Box has finally been opened. …

Jessica Scott-Reid

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