June 24, 2021
By Marcia Pobzeznik
Goats and sheep head to one of the nine pastures on the property.
TIVERTON — West Place Animal Sanctuary on Main Road is in the running to win a grand prize service award for going above and beyond in a contest that will be decided by the number of votes it gets by June 28.
One of five finalists in the country, all non-profit organizations, the sanctuary is the only finalist in New England in the animal welfare category and hopes to win the prize — a Land Rover it would use to transport abused, neglected or orphaned farm animals to the sanctuary.
The Defender Above and Beyond Service Award contest was "inspired by endless acts of service from extraordinary citizens this past year," according to the contest sponsors. The award of a Defender series Land Rover is "to celebrate U.S.-based charitable organizations that are making a positive impact in their local communities."
Votes can be submitted at landroverusa.com/experiences/events-and-sponsorships/defender-service-awards/vote/animal-welfare.html.
They entered the contest, said Patrick Cole, director of development and communications for the sanctuary, because "there's no Uber for farm animals."
Wendy Taylor-Humphrey, executive director of the 14-year-old non-profit that is located on eight acres of former farmland in the rear of her home near Pardon Gray Preserve, said she has gone through three personal SUVs since West Place Sanctuary started taking in animals.
Wendy Taylor-Humphrey, executive director of West Place Animal Sanctuary, holds Erna, one of the first rescues of the 14-year-old sanctuary.
The sanctuary's residents are both permanent, like Jack and Diane, two black Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, and temporary, like some wild turkey poults that were orphaned, but will eventually go back into the wild.
On a sunny morning this week, the farmyard's chickens were poking around, the pigs were asleep in a barn, the peacocks were screeching and Andy the goose, born without eyes, was in the sick bay but would soon be let out to "foster" goslings that arrived at the sanctuary last week.
Andy was brought to the lawn with goslings who emulated what he was doing — eating grass — so they would eventually be self-sufficient and one day, hopefully, fly away from the animal sanctuary, making room for other orphaned or abused farm animals and wildlife.
Diane, a Vietnamese potbellied pig, has suntan lotion on her skin that was cracked from a bad diet of donuts that was her main sustenance from a previous owner.
Lawyer finds a new purpose after tragedy
Taylor-Humphrey, a licensed attorney, gave up her law practice several years ago as the sanctuary started to become "beyond a full time job."
It all started after she had a fire in her house in the winter of 2003 and lost nine pets. A friend suggested she make a donation to an animal rescue in their memory, but instead, in 2007, she decided to start her own animal rescue.
She at first took in unwanted animals, but several years later, it morphed into a sanctuary for abused and neglected farm animals who would be rehabilitated and live out their lives there.
"That's where my heart is, the farm animals," Taylor-Humphrey said.
Erna the duck has been at the sanctuary the longest because her owner had more ducks than she could handle.
Many of the animals were brought to the sanctuary in 2016 from Westport, Massachusetts, where hundreds of farm animals were neglected in what was termed the largest animal cruelty case in New England history.
"We took in 67 of the 1,100 survivors," said Taylor-Humphrey.
She estimates they have about 100 animals on the grounds now, but every day is different and the numbers could increase with a phone call that an animal needs to be placed.
Patrick Cole is with Charles, one of two donkeys rescued from kill pens in Texas.
"We never know what's about to come in," Taylor-Humphrey said of some former residents, like a 1,500-pound cow or a 1,000-pound horse. The sanctuary is a partner of the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The recused animals have their own personalities
Taylor-Humphrey said she and the volunteers get attached to the animals. All have names and different personalities. Dottie, who was a rescue chicken, had 25 volunteers at her funeral.
"She was everyone's favorite rescue chicken," Taylor-Humphrey said.
Rocks are placed on the graves of animals who were residents of the sanctuary. Some have plaques on a fence near the graves.
Twitch, an orphaned three-week-old gosling, is full of energy after being nursed back to health.
As he walked around the sanctuary where goats and sheep and two donkeys rescued from kill pens in Texas, named Charles and Timothy, were grazing in one of the nine fields, Cole was followed every step of the way by Twitch, a three-week-old gosling.
"We had to tube feed him. He was very lethargic and cold," Taylor-Humphrey said of the care Twitch, an orphan, required early on. That included using a heating pad, incubator and electrolyte water.
Some animals have operations and emergency visits to the Tufts Veterinary School emergency clinic. Some have conditions that require a "shelf-full" of medications, said Taylor-Humphrey.
Cole said there are some who are in such bad shape when they arrive they're considered in need of hospice. But many, like Diane and Jack, the pigs that are now a bit leaner and healthier than when they arrived, have a new life at the sanctuary.
There is a gift shop on site that has wool from the resident alpacas and lots of keepsakes. A recent addition is beer and wine, made on site, by Thomas Humphrey, chairman of the board of the non-profit. He is in the process of getting a brewery license so the beer and wine can be sold to help fund the sanctuary.
After the contest is over, a funding drive in memory of Bobbert, a favorite rescue alpaca who died recently, will benefit a memorial scholarship fund to help continue the student intern program where students spend 8 to 12 weeks at the sanctuary. Some have gone on to study veterinary medicine.