Leaders & Achievers 2022
August 19, 2022
By Kimberley Edgar
TO THE RESCUE: Wendy Taylor, founder and executive director of Tiverton-based nonprofit West Place Animal Sanctuary, oversees a home to approximately 100 rescued farm animals, wild waterfowl and game birds/ PBN PHOTO/KATE WHITNEY LUCEY
WENDY TAYLOR WAS 14 when she knew law school was for her.
But in 2003 – eight years into Taylor’s medical malpractice law career in Providence – the unexpected happened: a fire gutted her house, killing her beloved pets – two dogs, six cats and a goat recuperating from surgery. The tragedy changed the course of her life.
A well-meaning friend who knew that Taylor likes animals suggested she donate money to an animal rescue charity. But that wouldn’t be enough for Taylor.
“Instead, my personality is the type that says, ‘Why would I donate to an organization – why wouldn’t I start my own?’ ” she said.
Almost 20 years after that catalyst – and putting her law career in the rearview mirror – Taylor finds herself the founder and executive director of West Place Animal Sanctuary. The nonprofit is home to approximately 100 rescued farm animals, wild waterfowl and game birds that she and other wildlife rehab-trained volunteers nurture to health on her Tiverton property before releasing them back into the wild.
Akin to a farm-animal spa, West Place provides skin, nutritional, medical and exercise treatments for abused and neglected farm animals that, in many cases, were on death’s door.
The 1995 Widener University Delaware Law School graduate supervises a staff of three and 75 volunteers and interns. She serves on TIverton's Zoning Board of Appeals and Rhode Island’s animal welfare board. In 2018, Taylor gave a TEDx talk on leaving a sustainable legacy.
The animal refugees seemingly have multiplied like rabbits since the sanctuary’s first residents arrived in 2007, which were sibling domesticated rescue ducks Erna and Burton. Erna now mothers other rescued and rehabbing baby fowl. The sanctuary burgeoned in 2016 with 67 animals rescued through one of the worst animal cruelty cases in the Northeast, in Westport.
Looking to improve the farm animals’ lot and increase the amount of land they call home, Taylor is talking with owners of nearby open farmland about having it used for the sanctuary and its operations.
“We’re hoping to get the land to not only help out the organization but to preserve that land in perpetuity,” Taylor said.