I love weekends. One of the best things about weekends is not having a schedule! Or at least less of a schedule. There's time and space to fritter, and explore. Yesterday I was enjoying just such a day, when I decided to look for a place I've long wanted to visit, a sanctuary called Animal Haven.
A little background about my interest in Animal Haven... Several years ago, I rescued a duck from an icy lake. The staff from the veterinary clinic fell in love with her, naming her "Mildred," and one of the staff tried to adopt her. But the woman's chickens took exception to the newcomer, so Mildred had to be relocated to an animal sanctuary called Animal Haven. I was told she would be safe for life there, that she seemed to like it - and that she'd met a boyfriend! I always thought it would be fun to go find this place and see Mildred happy and healthy, considering how pitiful and near death she was when I'd last seen her. However, life being busy as it is, weeks and months passed, and I never made it out there.
On Saturday I was out running errands when I approached the road that I'd been told led to Animal Haven. I was sure Mildred was gone by now, considering that was years ago. But I was still curious about the place, having never seen it. On impulse, I turned. I wandered down the road for awhile, and then spotted the sign as I approached a curve: "Animal Haven of Asheville."
I did not find Mildred, although the volunteer who showed me around encouraged me to call back when the owner was on property. All of the animals were not in sight, and she did not know them all by name. She knew many of them though, like Bonnie and Clyde, who honked loud greetings.
This place is amazing...such a beautiful, peaceful setting, and spotlessly clean! The animals have sheltered areas as well as open pastures, and they seem so happy. I met giant pot bellied pigs, including one who wagged her tail every time you said her name. So cute! I had no idea pigs wagged their tails.
The cats have a beautiful house, filled with all sorts of things a cat would love. Places to climb and hide, two lofts, and a completely enclosed outdoor area. It's cooled in the summer by a fan, and heated in winter. The volunteer explained that the cats are generally able to leave this area as they wish, but a new cat was not yet allowed outside, so we were careful to shut the gate behind us when we left.
I met a rabbit, and chickens, and ducks. But the cutest of all were the goats! Look at this little face...
Few of the animals at this sanctuary are up for adoption. Most are old, or sick, and they will be lovingly cared for at Animal Haven for the rest of their lives. The more I learned about this place during my tour, the more impressed I was. Animal Haven is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and everyone who works here is a volunteer. Everyone! This is remarkable. It must take an army of volunteers to care for all the animals, do the rehabilitation, keep the pens and houses clean, keep the grounds looking so beautiful, run the thrift store. The place radiated love.
I went on the website today to learn a little more about the background and operation of Animal Haven. I am ready to clean out my house and donate all my unneeded items to their thrift store! They also have an interesting sponsorship program. For $20 a month (or whatever you can afford), you can sponsor an animal that has been rescued from abuse or neglect. You can do this for yourself, or as a gift for someone else. They'll send its photo and information, and arrange a tour to meet the sponsored animal. You can also visit with it as often as you want, if you're local. I want to sponsor Baby Goat! If anyone would like more information about the sponsorship program, check out http://www.animalhaven.org/sponsor.html
I am also going to call back and ask about Mildred. Regardless of whether she is still around or not, I am so thankful she got to live in this place. I could not have asked for anything better.