Happy Trails Farm

I’m always delighted when I hear of an animal refuge that’s well run, with lots of love to spare for the residents. Such a place is the Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna, Ohio.

Their mission statement is well worth reading.

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary Inc. is a non-profit (501c3) organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and provides an adoption program for abused, abandoned, and neglected farm animals such as horses, ponies, pot belly pigs, farm pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, goats, and cattle. Happy Trails serves the entire state of Ohio, and works in cooperation with county humane societies, animal protective leagues, and local and state law enforcement officers. Our criteria for accepting a farm animal or horse into our rescue program is that the animal has been removed from it’s current situation by a county humane officer, sheriff, or other law enforcement representative. Happy Trails does NOT accept owner surrenders. We do not accept farm animals or horses from owners who simply no longer want their farm pet or wish to sell their farm pet or horse. Happy Trails provides the rescued farm animals and equine with medical care, proper nutrition, clean and safe housing, and as much TLC as possible. We work in cooperation with a variety of other rescue groups, both local and out of state, to network and help find homes for the rescued farm animals. Our adoption program allows for the rescued farm animals to be adopted as a family pet only. Once a farm animal is accepted by Happy Trails, they are no longer allowed to be placed back into food production, nor are they allowed to be bred or used for exploitation in any way. The Happy Trails Amish Horse Retirement Program, an extended part of our original rescue program, accepts Amish-owned buggy and plow horses that can no longer serve their Amish families. The acceptance criteria is that the horse is surrendered directly from it’s Amish owner, and that it is donated to the Amish Horse Retirement Program. These horses are then given an overall health and wellness medical examination, updated with vaccinations and a consistent worming schedule, have their hooves trimmed, and are made available for adoption.

Readers, take a look at the delightful pictures of these animals on the web site. Every time I look at them, I wish I could adopt a horse. Or maybe a pot-bellied pig! ( http://happytrailsfarm.org/about.htm)

My correspondent Julie first called my attention to this wonderful farm. Here’s what she has to say about her visit there:

Last Saturday, my husband Kip and I visited the Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna, Ohio. It was fantastic! They had horses, pigs (both potbelly and standard), chickens (including roosters rescued from cockfighting), ducks, geese, goats and miniature horses!! (We learned that the Amish use miniature horses to pull farm carts. ) They are also expecting a set of sheep to arrive shortly.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed spending time with the farm animals. The pigs were especially fantastic. One followed me around like a dog, rubbing on me when I petted her and falling over to expose her tummy for more patting and grunting with pleasure. I climbed right into the pens with the full-grown hogs (one was 1,400 pounds!) and they were extremely gentle and friendly – came trotting right up to me to look me over and be petted. The sanctuary director, Annette Fisher, says pigs are just fine – not at all aggressive – when they are not made aggressive by being kept in the horrible conditions that are standard in the hog-raising industry.

The horses were great. Sadly there were some there whose previous owner had abandoned them in a barn in stalls with the stall gates NAILED shut. And neglect cases are up a lot due to the economy. Annette says many foreclosed country property owners are moving away and just leaving their farm animals behind, still in their barns, sheds or fields – or even abandoning them by the side of the road.

The fighting roosters were a sad sight. They have to be kept in special individual cages where they can’t reach each other or they will fight to the death even through the wire mesh. But the sanctuary director took one out of his pen and I got to pet him – he was completely gentle and friendly to people. The cockfighters strap razor blades on their legs for them to fight with and cut off their combs so that the blood won’t run down into their eyes when they fight. They also shave off all their feathers so their wounds will show better when they are fighting. Many have damaged or cut off beaks so they can’t groom their own feathers any more. So even with their feathers mostly grown back now, they were a bedraggled sight – but still lively and interested, looking around and liking being petted. (How to pet a rooster: scratch around the base of the feathers at the back of the neck and he becomes blissful).

Annette is trying to get the state to make the penalties for fighting all kinds of animals the same (fighting dogs is punished more strictly than fighting roosters). She says that cockfighting is associated with underage drinking, drug sales, illegal firearms, and a host of other ills so it should be as serious a crime as fighting any other animal.

The sanctuary folks are going to bring some of the fighting roosters, some ducks and one of the miniature horses to our Blessing of the Animals [at our church] next Sunday! I am so thrilled. I have already sent a press release out about it to the local paper.

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