West Place Animal Sanctuary Extends Its Altruistic Reach Beyond the Four-Legged to Young Humans

The Tiverton non-profit has teamed up with BayCoast Bank to provide free humane education program opportunities for the next generation of animal welfare professionals.


April 20, 2022

By Kaitlyn Murray

Rhode Island Monthly


Intern Faith Mello. Photo courtesy of West Place Animal Sanctuary.


Nestled between Weetamoo Woods and the Pardon Gray Preserve amongst eight acres of historic farmland in Tiverton, the West Place Animal Sanctuary is quite the multi-hyphenate. It’s the East Bay’s largest and most diverse home to farm animals rescued from abuse, neglect and cruelty; a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility; and the go-to temporary shelter for lost dogs in Tiverton.


But you don’t have to have four legs or fur to earn a spot on the sanctuary’s beneficiary list: West Place also offers educational internships to local high school and college students who are looking to gain experience working with rescued farm animals and wildlife. This includes a Summer Program, which tasks students with hands-on farm work experience over eight to twelve weeks, and a School-Year Program, which allows students to spend four hours per week at the sanctuary over the course of the academic year.


To keep the internships free to those who fit the application criteria and wish to participate, West Place launched the Bobbert Memorial Scholarship Fund last year. The scholarship’s namesake, Bobbert the alpaca, first arrived at the sanctuary in 2010 as a six-month rescue from a traveling petting zoo, and over the years his goofy, resilient nature earned him favor not only with staff, volunteers and visitors, but also with millions of fans worldwide thanks to his debut in the Dodo’s viral web series (see the video for yourself on the scholarship page here). It was only fitting after his passing that the Sanctuary continue his legacy: the memorial fund encourages any inspired or big-hearted donors to establish student sponsorships and help the sanctuary continue to provide humane education programs for the next generation of animal welfare professionals.


Photo courtesy of West Place Animal Sanctuary.


The first Bobbert Memorial scholarship, funded by generous individuals, was awarded in the summer of 2021 to Lillian Hanson, an undergraduate studying to become a veterinarian at Tufts University.


“West Place Animal Sanctuary’s internship program introduced me to parts of the animal rescue and rehabilitation world that I had never dreamed of experiencing firsthand,” she says of her experience. “Plus, I was able to have conversations with various farm animal veterinarians and I formed connections with wildlife rehabilitators and animal rescue organizations. West Place will always be like a second family to me.”


Lillian Hanson. Photo courtesy of West Place Animal Sanctuary.


This year, the sanctuary has found its first corporate funder of a student scholarship in BayCoast Bank. With interest only growing for West Place’s internship program over the years—requiring more time, resources and planning from a team that is largely volunteer-based—the BayCoast Bank Scholarship will off set expenses related to recruitment, screening, scheduling, training and so on. The scholarship will be awarded to a deserving student intern in West Place’s School-Year Program this spring.


“BayCoast Bank’s commitment to education in the communities they serve make them the perfect flagship business partner to help us cultivate a more compassionate community,” says Wendy Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of West Place Animal Sanctuary.


Students interested in participating in West Place’s Educational Internship Program can visit westplace.org/internships for more information. Those wishing to establish a student scholarship through the Bobbert Memorial Scholarship Fund can learn more at westplace.org/bobbert-memorial.


Photo courtesy of West Place Animal Sanctuary.