New Year’s resolutions often take standard form year after year: resolve to remove the pounds all that holiday partying and good eats packed on; resolve to start a rigid exercise regime; resolve to spend less and save more; resolve to start a journal. This year, why not resolve to do something a little different? This year, why not consider helping some abused and neglected and starved animals?
Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Ravenna is on a mission to rescue animals enduring those sad situations, through court action, and to provide veterinary care, therapy and rehabilitation in a safe and comfortable setting until they can be adopted out to caring owners.
Born in 1999 with the rescue of a little, crippled, pot-bellied pig named Janice, the sanctuary has since helped more than 4,000 animals recover their health and demeanor and find new homes with loving families.
For years, Annette Fisher, founder and executive director, wanted to grow the operation by acquiring additional property to provide pastures for some of the larger animals. But the current 9-acre sanctuary was landlocked with no room to expand.
By coincidence, just such a piece of adjacent land became available through a sheriff’s foreclosure sale in mid-December when it was put up for auction. Fisher knew she could finally realize her vision of having a larger facility with an education center and pastures that the 5-acre plot of land with its four-bedroom house with attached garage and 24-by-32-foot barn would provide.
Knowing that sometimes, when you can’t live by certainty, you have to live by faith, Fisher didn’t let the fact that she did not have the money hold her back. She went ahead and bid $159,500 on the land and won the bid. She managed to put 10 percent down to secure the deal and is now faced with the Herculean challenge of raising the remaining balance. Happy Trails has launched a land acquisition campaign to raise the additional capital and has a 60-day deadline from the date of sale to meet its goal.
The additional area will provide many benefits such as much needed parking and more office space. There will also be classrooms.
Fisher says she feels education is key to the sanctuary’s mission and is the best way to stop cruelty to the animals. The house may be used for military support group programs, horse health seminars and animal care clinics, a compassionate children’s program and animal-friendly cooking classes using ingredients that do not contain animal products.
Volunteer orientations and more may continue on a year-round basis. Refreshments could come out of the kitchen to sustain group meetings and classes. Fisher says she thinks this would be perfect for their veterinarians to come in and give presentations.
The barn would be used to quarantine new arrivals to the sanctuary after they have been rescued and until a vet can clear them for release to be with the other stock. The attached garage would provide the option for additional machinery or equipment storage, or to convert the space into more educational rooms.
Ilona Urban has been a volunteer tour guide for several years and does education, nursing home visits and helps with fundraising. She recently gave the Akronist an exclusive tour of the sanctuary’s facilities, including the covered horse arena, multi-purpose barn, the new goat and sheep barn and the pig barn, and she pointed out the new property.
“This is such an opportunity for us to increase animal care and to increase awareness and to be able to teach,” Urban says. “So we are pretty excited about it.”
Urban says they would like to run day-camps for children to learn about compassion and kindness to animals.
“How sad that we have to teach children to be compassionate,” she says. “I think it should be taught in every elementary, junior high and high school in the nation. But, we’ll do our part here. I think you teach kids to be kind, and well, that transfers into all aspects of their life. They learn to be kind at Happy Trails; they might go back to school and be nicer to the kid sitting next to them, or the kid on the playground that’s hearing impaired. Or has a cleft palate or is a developmentally delayed kid…or whatever. Just – let’s be kind to each other. It’s so simple, isn’t it? Just be nice.”
Urban went on to say, “And education is such a huge part of what we do, because if we don’t educate people and make them aware then sure, we’re rescuing animals, but it’s like putting masking tape over a leak in a pipe – you never really fix the leak. I think we’re trying to address the root of the problem while we’re still trying to deal with the rest of it. Hopefully, these people will go out and say: ‘You know, I’m looking at this in a whole new way.’”
Happy Trails will host “A Night of Hope and Inspiration” March 21, 2015 at Todaro’s party center in Akron.
The annual event is an evening of heart-warming and inspiring stories, music, prizes and games, a Chinese auction and incredible food. It’s a night to not focus on all of the bad, sad things that we see daily, but rather to focus on the good, the progress, the positive, the accomplishments, the victories and the success stories.
The sanctuary has wish lists of items that may be donated or purchased ranging from office supplies and things to help the volunteers, to animal sponsorships and support for special projects. Happy Trails is a 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax deductible.
If you would like to share in the group’s achievements, send your donation to: Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary; 5623 New Milford Road, Ravenna, OH 44266. The nonprofit may be reached by phone at (330) 296-5914. For more information visit www.happytrailsfarm.org.