Gilbert Goat

Gilbert was rescued in 2001 after he was left outside in the blazing heat hogtied. In the backyard, his purchasers were preparing to slaughter and eat him. Concerned neighbors contacted animal control, who arrived promptly and confiscated the poor goat. We welcomed the goat to the sanctuary, naming him Gilbert. Even after all these years, Gilbert is still pretty shy around people, though he'll sometimes let us massage his back. We respect that.

In memory: Stewart

You were the first. Accompanied by twenty other rabbits, you arrived at Bunny Haven ready to take on the world.

You never let your small stature get in the way of what you wanted. With charm, some flashing teeth and determination, you earned the spot as Top Rabbit. Everyone respected you, including temporary residents, like Sebastian the goat and Maggie the turkey.

A year ago, your rear legs started to fail. You were ten, a superb life behind you and a slightly declining life ahead. For ten years, you had known what it was like to hop and run and jump. You would balance on hind legs, begging for apples. In your small body, you exuded greatness.

And then.

We watched uncomfortable and unsure as you struggled with the loss of your rear limbs. You dragged yourself about, adjusting to what we thought might be an unfair life. But what right did we have to say it was unfair? To say your quality of life wasn't up to our standards? You showed us otherwise, that your quality of life was up to your standards and that's all that mattered.

You moved into a safer enclosure with another hind-end paralyzed rabbit, Thor. You ate with enthusiasm and allowed some of the volunteers to stroke your soft fur, sometimes demanding more attention. In your twilight year, your last beautiful period of existence, you lived a calm, dignified life and you were comfortable and content.

And then.

Time was never on your side, not on anyone's side really. You started to show us that life was hurting you, that you were suffering. Sometimes you ate, sometimes you didn't. Sometimes you would end up on your left side, the one side that prohibited you from moving. We knew this was hard for you, knew the signs of your discomfort and stress. Your friend, Thor, knew too. Sometimes we would catch him smothering you, trying to stop you from struggling. You would stop, give up, panting in exhaustion.

We knew. You did not. Every movement was a struggle for you, but you were still aware. It just was not fair. You died on a hot day. Your favorite volunteer fed you a last meal worthy of the kingly rabbit you are. Were. Thor was by your side as you took your last breath. We watched and waited and then, you were gone, a small, heaving sigh the only sign you had departed.

You had a life and it was good. Stewart, you were the perfect leader, the perfect friend, the perfect rabbit. Life was very easy and wonderful for you and then it was harder, as it is with us all. And you did not mind. We should all be so lucky. You will be missed.

Handsome sheep, yucky bacteria, hermit crab pain, dog dominance passe

This is Simon being Simon. In August, he will be turning six. He's been at the sanctuary since he was a few days old, rescued from a sheep farm that had abandoned him to the elements. After six years, he's settled down a bit and only rarely tries to headbutt us. :)

A recent report in Scotland establishes, once again, the connection between campylobacter bacterial infections and meat consumption. Between 50-66% of all infections can be traced back to chicken as well as cattle & pig flesh.

A study done at the University of Belfast showed that hermit crabs not only experience pain (i.e. not simply a reflex) but retain memory of it. We have got to get out of the mindset that says fish, crustaceans and those sea animals who we are so unfamiliar with are unable to feel pain.

Research at the University of Bristol is reaffirming what many positive dog trainers have been touting for years - dogs don't see our relationship with them in strict dominance-submission terms and we shouldn't either.

Piggy Banking It: Office Charity

We know times are tough - Animal Place has been affected by the economic strife. So we wanted to come up with some fun, creative, easy ways to raise money for your favorite charity (which we assume is Animal Place, of course).

Here's our first installment of Piggy Banking Charity: Office Charity

Susie, the lovely pig on the left, suggests that - office rules permitting - you set up a donation jar at your desk. You can ask office mates to throw in their spare change or extra cash. Or you can buy power bars or granola bars cheaply at your local dollar store and sell them to coworkers, with all proceeds going to Animal Place. Do this for one or two months, get all the coins cashed at the bank or a CoinStar machine and send it on over to the sanctuary. Susie says she will not eat the cash but will instead use it to purchase a lot of apples or maybe some hay.

If you want to make a one-time donation to the sanctuary, your tax-deductible donation can be made here or send to our address:

Animal Place
3448 Laguna Creek Trail
Vacaville, CA 95688

Animal Spotlight: Charlene

Charlene is a pygmy goat with personality, Personality even. She spent her formative years in a condominium, a dog crate her only companion. After a few years as a "house goat", her guardian realized how silly it was to keep a goat locked up in an apartment. The second she stepped hoof onto the sanctuary grounds, she knew she was a goat. Immediately, she integrated with the herd, showing everyone she was boss.

Sanctuary Notes: Etta and Me

Etta was rescued from a live-market slaughterhouse a year ago. She arrived sick, emaciated and afraid of people. During the first months, she needed extensive medical care to help her gain weight and clear all infections. Her true personality emerged, and she is now a very outgoing sheep with a personality that steals hearts, including mine.

Etta had been favoring her right back leg for about a week. We worried she might have an abscess in her hoof or arthritis. We made an appointment with the vets for radiographs and an ultrasound at UC Davis. Getting her into the stock trailer was easy – she just followed me up the ramp. Once we closed the doors behind her and lifted the ramp, she started to worry and bellow loudly. I reached my hand through the trailer, touched her nose, and spoke quietly to her.

I parked the truck and stock trailer while Etta’s deep call echoed across the hospital parking lot. She quieted down when I peeked over the edge of the trailer, let her sniff my hand, and told her to stay for just a bit while I checked in. Her calling resumed instantly as I walked past the line of horse trailers towards the entrance. A woman brushing her horse’s mane and tail looked at me then back at my trailer and smiled, “your sheep sure does miss you”.

“She is my favorite lady,” I smiled back.

I unloaded Etta and waited for the students and the vet to arrive. Etta was nervous; her pupils were dilated and her breaths short, but she was quiet. She stood next to me and leaned heavily into my leg while I scratched her back. The vet was running late, so I left Etta in the room to grab some work from the truck. I ran into another vet who has treated Etta numerous times and knows the animals by name. Shouting over Etta’s nervous calls she said, “Etta really loves you.” I smiled, gave her the short version of why we were visiting and returned to our room. Etta was waiting by the door and re-glued herself to my leg. The staff arrived and gave her a physical. (She was up 40 pounds from her arrival weight! It took all my self-control not give the staff a round of high fives.) They wanted to assess Etta’s walk, but she was nervous and tried to dart away from them. So she and I made a tightly linked train (I the engine and she the caboose) circling the perimeter of the room clockwise then counter-clockwise for quite a few rounds.

The vet left to grab supplies from the pharmacy and the vet tech stayed to chat. He kept his eyes on Etta as he told me about his family’s beef cattle ranch near our new property in Grass Valley. I invited him to visit after we move. I noticed a connection when he said, kind of surprised, “she is really bonded to you.” The vet returned with Etta’s diagnosis: her arthritis is worsening probably related to her previously difficult life. Not much could be done except to provide pain management.

It hit me that maybe my bond with Etta wasn’t completely one sided, and that maybe she actually got something out of being around me, too. It never fails to excite me seeing how profound an impact the animals and their behaviors have and how apparent their emotions can be to people. I hope you have time this summer to attend one of our tours and spend time at the sanctuary. You’ll be amazed at the bonds the animals have with one another and the bonds they will form with you.

Happy Friday from Willow Turkey hen

Willow would just like to wish you a happy Friday and a great weekend. She is actually wishing I would give her a grape or two, but please do not let that get in the way of believing she cares about which day of the week it is.

Willow came to Animal Place a bit bedraggled and lonely after spending a couple years traipsing through broken glass and dirt on the property of a hoarder. She is one of several animals Animal Place took in or placed. Iris the bunny also lived on that property, though she was stuck in a small wire cage with far too many other rabbits. Animal Place successfully found homes for more than a dozen geese, several ducks, the rabbits and three pigeons.

The only time Willow really likes people is when she is in the mood for love. She follows us around, propositioning us every few feet and acting perturbed when we don't accept her overtures. When we had male turkeys, she'd do everything in her power to evade their detection and would sometimes peck at them if they tried to show her affection. But when she is not in the mood, Willow is very strong in her belief that humans are not her friends. We love her little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. :)