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Feathered and furry friends, meet human friends

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

West Place Animal Sanctuary greets dozens of curious visitors

Jun 23, 2022

By Jen Campisi

The Sakonnet Times

Morgan Lantz feeds carrots to one of the West Place alpacas.

The grounds of the West Place Animal Sanctuary were open to the public one recent weekend, giving visitors a chance to tour the property, learn more about the organization and meet the animals that call West Place home. Across sprawling green grass and white picket fences, families waded in and out, stopping to take in the beautiful farm views and trails, and feeding animals carrots, grapes and seeds along the way.

The sanctuary is typically closed to the public, but schedules two open houses per year, which are in high demand as the word about the organization spreads. Volunteers offered guided tours of the sanctuary to display and education the visitors, take questions, and allow for a chance to interact with some of the animals they’ve saved from abuse and neglect over the years.

For the past 15 years, founder and executive director Wendy Taylor has immersed herself in wildlife and livestock rehabilitation, but it took tragedy and sacrifice to come this far.

For years, Wendy lived on the property with her two dogs, six cats, and one special goat. It wasn’t until a devastating house fire that severely damaged their home and claimed the lives of her beloved pets that this project became possible. Wanting to give back in support of animals, she developed an organization that would span into a lifelong commitment to rescuing and caring for the most vulnerable of animals. After the tragic passing of her four-legged companions, she now has a way to honor them by helping other animals live healthy lives despite the unfortunate situations they have come from.

Her husband, Tom Humphrey, who serves as the chairman for the board of directors, admits that he was never really an animal person, until he met Wendy.

“I once had a goldfish as a kid, but I was never really into animals. Honestly, if it wasn’t for [Wendy], I’d be out playing golf every weekend,” Tom joked.

What once was a three-hole golf course behind their home quickly turned into bustling greenhouses full of vegetables and herbs for the animals in their care, in addition to an up-and-coming vineyard.

The organization started small, but soon became a lot to handle, especially with both Wendy, a former medical malpractice defense litigation attorney, and her husband, an engineer, working full-time. “For a while, I did both, working almost 80 to 90 hours a week, and it got to the point where he just came to me and said ‘pick one,’” said Taylor. “To me, it was a no brainer.”

Taylor said West Place has outgrown where they are, and ae beginning to think about expanding. They’re looking to eventually buy an adjacent property, in which thy could acquire an additional 36 acres of land. As their needs change and they intent to grow, however, their mission stays the same.

“Our motto is ‘Never say no,’ and that’s really our goal,” said Humphrey. “By expanding and having additional resources, we would never have to say no to an animal in need.”

The sanctuary depends on donations, private grants, and grassroots fundraising. The receive no federal funding, no state funding, and are not directly funded by the Town of Tiverton. Opening the gates to allow visitors puts West Place in the public eye, and allows for members of the community to give back, through ticket sales for the tours, donations, sponsorships, and gift shop purchases.

Michael and Alex Bottomley, from Randolph, Mass., were in town visiting Michael’s family in Tiverton when they stumbled along the open house.

“It was just great timing, and I’m really glad we got to see it,” said Alex.

“We’ve driven by here probably like 150 times, but now we’ve gotten to actually learn about the place,” said Morgan Lantz of Portsmouth. “It was a fun family day to get to learn all about it.”

“We hike the preserve right next door, and we got to see how amazing it is. The property is so beautiful, and to see the little details up close when you get in is even better,” said “Sarah Headley of Fall River.

“I think this experience is great for people getting to learn how unique we are, considering there is no other organization that focuses on farm animals strictly from neglect, abuse, and cruelty cases, that also has a nutritional program, a skin conditioning program, the medical program, the physical therapy program,” said Taylor. “Animals don’t leave here, they are here for life. It’s all about the life that an animal has while it is here on this planet. Every creature deserves to have the best life that they possibly can. Our commitment is to provide a lifetime of care, however long their life may be, through the ups and the downs, the good and the bad, the medical care to the end of life care. It’s a never-ending job and animal care never takes a day off.”

“The farm animals need us, but we need the public in order to keep doing what we’re doing for them,” Taylor said. “If you love what we’re doing, the best way to show us that you love what we’re doing is to help us keep doing it.”


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