The magazine does not have their articles online but you can visit their site at shopinri.com and you can read the full copy, written by Jean Lombari, in the first person, below.
Celebrating a decade of helping animals, Wendy Taylor, founder of West Place Animal Sanctuary, sat with me and explained why she started working on this adventure and how she made it a reality. Her quest was to leave no animal to suffer.
She had moved to the property that sits in scenic Tiverton, RI in the late 90’s. A couple of years into renovating the house, there was a tragic fire that took the life of her pets. It took roughly a year and a half to rebuild and she wanted to do something to honor the memory of her pets. A friend had recommended that she donate money to an organization that benefits animals; but that didn’t seem like enough. Wendy laughs and says, “I should have taken them up on that suggestion. It would have been much easier.” She wanted to be more involved and hands on. She decided she wanted to start her own non-profit organization where she would take in the animals and care for them instead of giving money to someone else to do it.
IT TAKES WORK!
Wendy has been a lawyer for 20 years and has scaled her practice back to focus on the sanctuary. Since she never had any experience in filing for non-profit status, she sought out an associate in her office that was familiar with that type of filing to help with the necessary paperwork. She explained that the corporation part is easy. Filing to become a 501 c(3)… it takes a lot of work and you need to know what you’re doing. Sometimes it takes a year or more to get approved, if at all, and she was lucky to only have to wait a few months, because she was able to show her organization could take some of the burden from local animal control and other organizations.
The eight acre property is surrounded by several hundred acres of wilderness. It sits amongst Weetamoe Woods and Pardon Gray Preserve. This makes wildlife release easy and the animals don’t have to be relocated. There is even a garden on the property where the sanctuary grows berries, grapes, peanuts, and sunflowers to wean the animals off of grain and pellets to prepare them for their return to nature. They also grow carrots, corn and lettuce for the horses and other domestic farm animals that they care for.
What started as a few hours a week rehabilitating baby birds had grown through word of mouth. Wendy had begun with a sub-permit. The wildlife clinic she trained under likes to start people off with baby birds because there are so many each spring. She transitioned to waterfowl and game birds specifically because that is what is most ideal for the facility, and amount of staff she has. At the present time, the sanctuary hosts wild mallards, turkeys and other game birds, Canada geese, wood ducks, swans, and domestic ducks. The domestic ducks are usually found as babies and mistaken for mallards. At the time of this interview, the staff of volunteers were preparing for the next few months by arranging space and heat lamps for an expected 250 babies.
How do bigger animals find their way to the farm? While West Place Animal Sanctuary is set up for wildlife rehab and exotic birds, there are special situations where it is necessary to take in and care for domestic farm animals that are in dire need of help. Some will be recommended to larger rescue facilities that have more space, staff and a bigger budget. The quality of care and quality of life of the animals always comes first.
A very special situation arose in July of 2016 in Westport, MA. There was a cruelty case that involved 1200 animals on a 70+ acre farm and the ASPCA called in West Place for any help they could offer. West Place was onsite into November 2016 alongside the ASPCA helping with daily care, transport and whatever else was needed. They had the room and enough volunteers at the time to take in several sheep and goats, fish, and some exotic birds that the ASPCA helped build a shelter for at the sanctuary.
Animals that have suffered have a forever home at West Place Animal Sanctuary. Wildlife is there to rehab and be released but some like it there and refuse to leave and that is fine. Some wildlife will stay at the sanctuary their whole life if there is something wrong with them that will prevent them from surviving in the wild.
Wendy’s favorite success story was that of a turkey that was brought to her seven years ago. The turkey was only 2 days old when found and was mistaken for a baby duck by the people who discovered her. “She may not have been everyone’s favorite. She could be a little ‘pecky’”, says Wendy. The turkey had been abandoned by her mother. Any mother bird will survey the babies and take with her the ones that can keep up and the rest are left behind for food. This particular baby had disfigured toes and couldn’t walk well. Eventually, her leg started to grow the wrong way. At 2 months old, the vet gave her a 10% chance of living. “I felt like I’d have failed her if I didn’t try to help,” said Wendy. So she gave the vet the okay to perform the surgery. Later that day she got a phone call that she could come and pick up the bird and take her home. She made it!
West Place Animal Sanctuary runs solely on grant awards, fundraising and donations.
Tours are also available.
Please visit www.westplace.orgfor ways you can help.