The Free To Be Me Sanctuary is located on the outskirts of Moose Jaw and is dedicated to the humane treatment of unwanted and abandoned farm animals.
It’s been a tough year for Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary as some beloved animals died and fundraising was difficult to run, but new opportunities may appear on the horizon.
“We’re fine. We hang in there. Everyone is fine, ”said Luanne Shropshire, owner and operator of the sanctuary. “We have a few more volunteers, that helped us a lot. … I think we have enough hay for the season. “
Pandemic restrictions forced the organization to close tours – their main source of income – earlier this year while the usual fundraising drives were impossible. Shropshire and her family reached into their pockets to keep the sanctuary afloat.
Tours have finally resumed – the hot weather kept a lot of people away – while Shropshire and her team worked on the issues and turned their faces to 2022.
The sanctuary – located on the outskirts of Moose Jaw and dedicated to the humane treatment of unwanted and abandoned farm animals – is currently selling calendars. Anyone interested in purchasing one can call 306-684-2231.
Several popular animals died this year, such as the llama Bell (16) and the goat Willis (14). Both died in their sleep and were normal, healthy animals.
The organization has around 75 animals including pigs, horses, llamas, ostriches and cows. Each has a special name while around 10 have physical disabilities.
Two notable acquisitions that year were a calf that was born without eyes and a healthy sheep whose mother had abandoned it when it was born.
“Because of a lack of hay, we weren’t able to take in many animals this year. We need to make sure everyone looks after our animals we have, ”said Shropshire, who has not been happy to turn animals away this year. “And we have to make sure we keep our commitment to them (and pay the vet bills).”
Some known animals are fine even as they advance in age, she continued.
Bugsy is a 53 year old donkey and is as healthy as possible. The Sanctuary staff is keeping an eye on it, however, as it “is no longer as bouncy as it used to be”. Meanwhile, several large pigs entertain the visitors, such as Gracie, who can open gates herself.
The pig recently opened a gate in the paddock through which a bull could enter and wreak havoc, forcing staff to pull him out. Shropshire noted that they’d better wrap the chain around the fence next time to prevent this from happening.
“Yeah, (Gracie is) very smart,” she chuckled.
Again this year the organization struggled to find volunteers, mainly because many had to stay at home due to pandemic restrictions. Some weekend volunteers returned year-round, while a few more stepped forward in December after learning of the need for help.
“We have some good volunteers now. That really helped us a lot because of the handicapped animals – they take special care of that, ”Shropshire said. “But you still have to do your house chores and cleaning and all the fun things that have to be done.”
The shelter’s owner hoped the organization could run more fundraising drives and purchase more valuable hay feed for the animals in 2022.