Gone But Not Forgotten
Although the spirits of these animals have since left their physical bodies, their souls are eternal and the memories that we shared will never be forgotten. Until we meet again, my friends and family.
I picked up Brutus’s mother Jessie, a Rottie Lab cross running as a stray around the Millarville area. She was in terrible condition; starved, full of fleas, mange and parasites and to my surprise, a belly full of puppies. Brutus was born at The RASTA Sanctuary on October 11th 2002. Two months later, all of Brutus’s brothers and sisters got adopted along with his mother Jessie. Surprisingly, he was the puppy that no one wanted and so he remained with me at the Sanctuary and grew up among the many different animals in my care. As he truly was the most gentle and relaxed dog I had ever encountered, he had accompanied me and helped out at many fund raisers since he was a puppy.
Brutus was a regular at the Millarville Farmer’s Market where he was admired by hundreds of people as he napped on his very own cooling water bed on top of my display table full of pet toys and treats. He and his little brothers Benson and Pedro were the only ones that had a “job” at the Sanctuary which required them to look cute, be petted and nap on a water bed for a whopping five hours a week.
Fern (Potbelly Pig)
Fern was five years old at the time of her surrender from the Cochrane Humane Society. She was given up by a family that was no longer able to care for her. As pigs are exceptionally intelligent, sensitive and loyal animals, they form very strong bonds with their families and will often go through a deep-set depression when they are given away, especially when they are older. Given Fern’s age, this was a concern for me and thus I had provided her with plenty of mental, physical and emotional stimulation as well as an array of “edible distractions” in the way of unique snacks. Similar to men, the easiest way to a pig’s heart is through their stomach!
Fern’s transition into her new life had gone very well and despite losing her family, I managed to keep her spirits up and am happy to report that she had not shown any signs of depression. Fern lived with us at the Sanctuary for another five years before she started to suffer from mobility issues due to old age. I treated her for some time with joint supplements and then pain medicine but eventually had to make the very difficult decision to have her put to sleep.
This beautiful girl was picked up as a stray with no one coming forward to claim her. Emma was yet another victim of the exotic pet industry. Years ago, llamas used to be very expensive animals regarded as a status symbol by wealthy land owners. Now they are worth little more than the flesh on their bones and sell for as little as $15 – $20 at local livestock auctions.
In the late fall of 2008, Emma had broken her leg in an unfortunate accident. Due to the complication of the fracture RASTA was not able to save her leg, but was able to save her life. Emma had her right hind leg removed successfully and had since fully recovered from her surgery.
I looked into having Emma fitted for a prosthesis but unfortunately the amputation site was too high as it would not be possible to fasten and keep the artificial limb in place. However, Emma did remarkably well on three legs for many years and was just as agile and quick as her four-legged llama buddy Jordan.
Myla was surrendered in early October of 2011 by her owner of more than 11 years as a result of a move. Unable to take her pet along for the next journey of her life, Myla’s former owner chose to give up her precious girl. Insisting on visiting (after Myla had adjusted to her new life at the sanctuary) and helping with financial contributions towards her care, Myla’s former owner had promised to stay in touch. Unfortunately, shortly after her surrender I never heard from Myla’s owner again.
In consideration of Myla’s senior age and subsequent mobility issues, I placed her in a separate stall apart from the main population so that I can better tend to her special needs. She shares her stall with two other young piglets named Talula and Webster.
On December 13th 2012, Myla was humanely euthanised at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary in the comfort of her own stall. Due to a slowly deteriorating quality of life as Myla was no longer able to walk or stand on her own, the difficult decision was made to release her from her pain. Despite efforts to contact her previous owner, to offer one last farewell I was unsuccessful as she had changed her contact information. Myla’s spirit passed from her tired old body as I held her in my arms. She was a beautiful and gentle soul that I miss dearly.
Due to Myla’s senior age and subsequent special needs, she required a great deal of additional care to ensure she was as comfortable as possible for the last year of her life. She received daily medication and supplements to manage her pain, I cooked her meals as she was no longer able to eat pelleted feed, offered her flavored beverages to ensure she stayed hydrated, picked fresh grass for her (and dandelions, her favorite) as she was no longer able to graze, carried her outside when she wanted to enjoy a few hours of laying in the warm sunshine but was unable to walk more than a few steps on her own and I covered her with additional blankets at night as she lay under her own personal infrared heater.
Fluffy Midnight (Silkie Rooster)
This unique little boy (initially thought to be a girl) was surrendered by The Calgary Humane Society. At just eight months of age, Midnight was near death as he was emaciated and too weak to stand. Only able to shuffle backwards, it took him some time before he was able to walk and eat on his own.
Although Midnight overcame a great deal of adversities, he never recovered fully from his rough start to life and always remained a little on the weak side. Sadly he passed away after a few short years at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary.
Bailey, who was pregnant at the time of her rescue along with her companion Buster were seized by The Alberta SPCA from a neglectful home. As both pigs were very afraid of people, it is doubtful that they had many positive experiences with humans in their lives. Buster and Bailey arrived at the Sanctuary in March of 2012. A couple of months later, on May 9th Bailey gave birth to eight healthy babies. At two months of age, I took the boys from Bailey’s litter to the vet to be castrated. One month later I took the girls in for their spay surgeries along with Bailey. Everyone returned home safely and appeared to be recovering well from their surgeries. However five days later I was absolutely devastated to find Bailey dead in the morning in her stall with her babies all laying next to her.
As Bailey was healthy the day and evening before and showed no signs of illness or discomfort her sudden death was a terrible shock. Worried that this mysterious ailment could possibly be something contagious that could affect Bailey’s babies as well as all the other pigs and animals at the sanctuary, I took her body to the vet for a postmortem exam.
A few hours later I received a call from the vet informing me that a portion of Bailey’s intestine had twisted during the course of the night which had cut off blood supply to her gut and caused her death. This news was bitter sweet as I was relieved to hear that there were no infectious elements surrounding her death which eliminated any possible threat to the other animals however the pain of losing her, especially so soon after her rescue was truly demoralizing. The most heartbreaking part was that Bailey’s young babies had lost their mother and are now all orphans.
Born on May 9th 2012 at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary, Tinker Bell was the smallest of her litter and required special care to ensure she received enough nourishment. Since Tinker Bell was approximately one third smaller than the rest of her brothers and sisters and was initially too weak to nurse on her own, I bottle-fed her for the first few days of her life. Remarkably this little girl was a fighter and managed to pull through. She gained weight and began to catch up to her brothers and sisters in size.
Three months later I noticed that Tinker Bell wasn’t grazing as much as the other piglets and was spending a great deal of time on her own sleeping. As this is highly unusual behavior for a young piglet (as most can never seem to get enough to eat) I took her to the vet. After a brief exam the vet believed that Tinker Bell was suffering from a mild infection and prescribed antibiotics as treatment. I brought her home and put her in a separate stall where I could monitor her more closely. I supplemented her feed with antibiotics for one week and as a preventative measure I also treated her siblings with the antibiotics. One week later, Tinker Bell was back to her usual joyful, energetic self and couldn’t wait to rejoin family. Tinker Bell thrived and lived a happy life for a couple more months.
Late in October or 2012, I was calling all the pigs home for supper and bedtime when I noticed that Tinker Bell didn’t come home. As sometimes the pigs lose themselves in an especially enjoyable nap under a tree, behind the barn, etc. and don’t hear me calling for them, I have to go find them so this isn’t terribly unusual or alarming. However after nearly an hour of walking the pastures, searching under every tree, nook and cranny all the while calling to little Tinker Bell I began to fear the worst. Sadly, my fears were confirmed when I found her dead laying on her side, her legs contorted, mouth open and eyes bloodshot.
Overwhelmed with grief as this little angel had overcome so much in her short life I couldn’t believe that she was suddenly gone. I took her little body to the vet for a postmortem exam at which point the vet was unable to determine the cause of death on his own and required that tissue samples be sent off to a specialist lab in Saskatchewan. Finally, two weeks later I received the results that my precious little Tinker Bell was born with a weak heart and had in fact died of a heart attack. Tinker Bell passed away just two short months after her mother Bailey, she was less than six months old. This was an especially difficult time for me at the sanctuary.
Monty, Jenna & Farrah (Bronze Turkeys)
Officially RASTA’s first turkeys!! These beautiful birds were surrendered by a family which had initially got them with the intention to butcher for Thanksgiving Dinner. Thankfully they didn’t have the heart to follow through with the killing and instead brought them to the RASTA Sanctuary where they made a welcomed addition to the eclectic feathered family. Monty and his ladies, whose feathers were in the process of regrowing, enjoyed many Thanksgiving Days among several friends at the Sanctuary.
After a few years at the sanctuary, Monty began to develop a limp with a swollen middle toe and so I had one of R.A.S.T.A.’s local veterinarians examine him for what was initially believed to have been the possibility of an abscess or an infection. Testing negative for both, Monty was diagnosed as having arthritis with little more than warm Epsom salt baths and pain medicine as treatment. As the weeks passed, Monty’s limp became more pronounced and the swelling in his toe spread to the rest of his leg. At this point I decided to take Monty in for a second opinion to another one of R.A.S.T.A.’s local veterinary clinics where I specifically requested x-rays of his injured leg.
Sadly, the x-rays revealed diminishing bone structure due to the presence of bone cancer. I was heartbroken with this diagnosis knowing that Monty’s condition was terminal. As bone cancer has a high rate of metastasizing (spreading throughout the body, often to the lungs) amputation of the afflicted area would not have been an ethical choice.
Given Monty’s grim diagnosis, I brought him back to the sanctuary to enjoy the rest of the summer among his friends and family, with careful attention to managing his pain through the administration of daily medication. For several weeks, I paid close attention to the delicate balance of Monty’s quality of life and when his bad days began to outweigh his good days I made the very painful decision to have him euthanized. On September 30th 2011 R.A.S.T.A.’s beloved Monty passed away.
Although I can not be sure of his age, I know that Monty enjoyed a much longer and infinitely happier life than the majority of turkeys who are mass consumed by hoards of people that give little, if any consideration for these highly social and very intelligent creatures whose lives they are mindlessly extinguishing.
Monty was a favorite to all the volunteers as well as the many visitors to the sanctuary that were lucky enough to have met him; the majority of whom had never had the privilege to have met, let alone petted a turkey in their lives. Monty was the most amazing ambassador for his species that anyone could have ever asked for and he and his ladies who passed many years after him due to old age will be missed dearly.
Contrary to popular belief, turkeys are not aggressive birds. They are very curious, intelligent and social creatures. In fact, Monty and his ladies were among some of the first animals to greet visitors and volunteers alike to the Sanctuary. They happily followed along for walks and enjoyed being petted…..and very happily jumped in people’s vehicles when they weren’t looking!
For a Cruelty-Free alternative to eating turkeys, try Tofurky. They make a great tasting Tofurky Feast perfect for Thanksgiving Dinner among other wonderful products which are a much healthier alternative, better for the environment and the animals!
Rocky (Yorkshire Piglet)
I picked Rocky up as a stray running around the Balzac area when he was just a little baby. He was approximately three months old and his tail had been cut off, a common practice on factory farms where thousands of pigs are confined to tiny pens. Their tails are cut off and their testicles and teeth are ripped out at birth, with no aesthetic or pain medicine, to minimize the damage that they cause to one another while confined within insanely overcrowded pens.
After a few years at the RASTA Sanctuary, Rocky had grown into quite a big boy at approximately 900lbs. He had formed a very strong bond with another large breed pig at the Sanctuary named Wilbur. The two were practically inseparable. Sadly Rocky’s body eventually had succumb to the same age-related mobility issues that plague all pigs and after doing my best to extend his life with joint supplements and pain medicine I eventually had to made the heart wrenching decision to have him put to sleep.
This small Chihuahua Pug cross came to R.A.S.T.A. as an owner-surrender. He was given up because the owner’s child was allegedly very allergic. He was transported in the back of a pick up truck in a tiny crate where he couldn’t stand up. He wreaked of cigarette smoke, was very afraid of his surroundings, didn’t appear to know his name and at nearly two years of age, had no manners and wasn’t socialized or the least bit house trained. It took a great deal of time to socialize and train Pedro but due to his many deeply embedded social issues, he remained a permanent resident at the sanctuary. Brutus, the gentle giant took tiny Pedro under his wing and looked out for him as his big brother. The two were best of friends.
Fortunately for the two boys, they shared many of the same interests and hobbies…
In the early morning hours on November 1st 2012 Pedro was killed by coyotes. This deeply saddening and horrifically tragic event has absolutely devastated me and Pedro’s two bigger brothers; Brutus and Benson. Our home has not been the same since as this little dog played a very big part in all of our lives and there isn’t a day that goes by when he isn’t missed.
Daisy-May (Potbelly Pig)
Surrendered on the very same day as Myla, just a few hours later, Daisy was also given up by her owner who was no longer able to provide for her. At just over one year of age, Daisy who had come from a “specialist micro mini pig breeder” (AKA professional scam artist!) was already suffering from cataracts among other health issues. Despite the breeder’s claim of expertise, premium specialized breeding lines and unbelievably high sale prices (as much as $2,500 for a piglet!!) Daisy was suffering from mange (a highly contagious and yet easily treated uncomfortable condition caused by mites crawling on the skin) when she was purchased from the breeder. Fortunately for Daisy, her former owners sought immediate veterinary attention for her ailments and took the best care of her they knew how.
However as first time pig owners, Daisy’s former parents quickly learned just how intelligent, sensitive and emotional pigs truly are and when Daisy began to urinate relentlessly around their home declaring her unhappiness they eventually realized that they could not meet all her needs adequately.
When they contacted the breeder regarding Daisy’s escalating issues, the once-promised ironclad “guarantees” were quickly rescinded leaving Daisy’s owners feeling abandoned, helpless and frustrated. Fortunately The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary was in a position to take in yet another pig in need of rescue, even a designer one.
Copper & Rusty
These two handsome boys were brought to us by an volunteer from a dog rescue who picked them up from a vet clinic in Three Hills Alberta. The birds were brought to the clinic to be destroyed as their previous owner did not want them.
Roosters are of no value to the chicken business and are often disposed of at birth, commonly ground up in grinders and fed back to hens as a cheap food source.
Webster (Potbelly Piglet)
At just a few months of age, this little boy was surrendered by The Red Deer SPCA shortly after he was received “from a friend of a friend that was not able to keep him”. After speaking to the initial party that alleged to have received Webster as an “unexpected gift from a friend whose name eluded them and that they had no way to contact” it became clear that I would be unsuccessful in retrieving any useful or valid information about his origins.
After learning that the initial “home” had kept Webster in a Rubbermaid container for much of his short life it became imperative to get him away from them as soon as possible. As a small volunteer-based organization with limited resources I regretfully do not have a pick up service, let alone an out-of-town pick up service, as so many people that demand to get rid of their pets “right now!” want me to have, but yet are unwilling to contribute towards.
I was thus very fortunate to have found a friend at The Red Deer SPCA that took it upon herself to drive little Webster down on her own time all the way from Red Deer to the sanctuary in De Winton, something that Webster’s former legal “guardians” simply refused to do. To add to my good fortune, my new friend from The Red Deer SPCA also managed, by some miracle to get a $100 surrender fee out of the former owners which she transferred the full amount to The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary to help go towards Webster’s neuter. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you Amy as your compassion and support is truly appreciated more than you know!!
This gentle old soul came to the sanctuary as one of many feral (wild) cats that had nowhere else to go. As many rescue groups and shelters will not take feral cats, offering euthanasia as the only option, there are a great deal of cats that have nowhere to go. At The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary they are provided with a safe place to live, plenty of food, fresh water and a warm place to sleep while allowing them as much space as they desire. After a few years of enjoying this freedom with all the creature comforts at the sanctuary, the cats eventually realize that no one is not out to hurt them and they become tame on their own. Monster lived at the sanctuary for twelve years and at eighteen years of age, he became quite the wise old man. He was truly the king of his castle as he oversaw all that went on in the barn and was always happy to greet the many visitors to the sanctuary asking for nothing more than the occasional scratch. Ironically he earned his name “Monster” because at the time of his surrender he was the most aggressive wild cat one can imagine and yet just a few years later he became the most gently and affectionate boy.
In the fall of 2012, Monster’s health began to deteriorate rapidly as he lost a great deal of weight and became very lethargic. Extensive blood work revealed that Monster’s blood had become very thick and his organs were slowly beginning to shut down. The majority of Monster’s ailments were attributed to his senior age and under the recommendation of the vet, I made the difficult decision to have Monster euthanized. His physical presence from the barnyard is dearly missed.
Sophie (Potbelly Pig)
Sophie came to the RASTA family as an owner surrender. Sadly, Sophie spent her entire life living alone in a small dark shed with little to no stimulation and thus had a great deal to adjust to after her arrival. Like most of the potbelly pigs that come to the RASTA Sanctuary, Sophie had never met another pig and at four years of age, it took her a lot of time to adjust to family life.
After her arrival, Sophie had a lot of new and exciting experiences including feeling the warmth of the sunshine on her back, enjoying the refreshing experience of wallowing in the mud on a hot day, rooting around for hidden treats, and laying in a bed full of fluffy straw. Exceeding 300lbs. Sophie was one of the largest potbelly pig at the Sanctuary. Believed to have been four years old at the time of her surrender, Sophie lived at the Sanctuary for six years before passing on from old age.
Ducks, Chickens & Roosters
From the same home that RASTA rescued Sophie the potbelly pig, twenty-five chickens, roosters and five ducks were rescued also. The birds lived in a similar set up as Sophie, however were fortunate to have access to light. The birds were all fairly old and passed away from what we believed to be old age a few years later.
Junior (Potbelly Pig)
Junior was surrendered as a two-year-old intact (non castrated) pig by his owner who was moving and unable to take him along. At the age of two years, Junior (formerly Buddy) had spent the majority of his life living in a basement suite in Calgary where he was kept confined to a washroom “so he wouldn’t destroy the house”. As Junior was not castrated at an early age he had developed a great deal of aggression and had actually attacked the owner’s girlfriend landing her in the hospital.
Over the past year at the sanctuary, Junior’s aggression has subsided a fair amount.
Zoe (Potbelly Piglet)
Zoe has one of the more “creative” stories as to where she came from. Although she was surrendered by The Red Deer SPCA, she was received the same day by a lady that claimed; “that she was asked to watch a pig while ‘this guy‘ (whom she didn’t know) went to the store”. Needless to say, “the guy” never came back and Zoe was dropped off at the SPCA which later contacted R.A.S.T.A. for help.
Oddly enough, Zoe was initially named “Bruce” when she was surrendered leading me to believe that she was a boy. This observation alone gave me some pretty good insight as to just what kind of a home Zoe came from. It often makes me wonder about the general competence of people when grown adults can not tell the very obvious difference between a boy and a girl.
Although the stories that people tell me as to how they came to “find” a potbelly pig or (if they actually admit that it is their pet) why they can’t keep it vary, in the end the outcome is always the same in that it never works out! And yet again, this affirms my very strong belief that people should not breed or buy potbelly pigs!
On the lighter side of things, I wish to thank Amy Corpe from The Red Deer SPCA for once again chauffeuring a rescued pig on her own time all the way from Red Deer to The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary in De Winton. I am also happy to report that Amy has generously chosen to sponsor little Zoe and Webster!!
This beautiful girl was surrendered to The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary along with her friend Blossom (another pet goat) by her owner who regretfully had to move from her De Winton acreage into the town of High River. As R.A.S.T.A. was the only rescue organization that offered refuge to farm animals in Alberta and the prairie provinces at the time, it was the only chance these girls had at staying together and staying alive.
After a few years at the sanctuary, Flossie was diagnosed with Polio, a condition resulting from a lack of Thiamine (B Vitamin) in the body. Despite every measure taken to help her pull through, Flossie was unable to recover and was euthanized at the sanctuary. Flossie’s vitamin deficiency was not due to a lack in her diet but rather in her body’s inability to metabolize properly. I found out later from Flossie’s previous owner that she was at least 12 years old (if not older) and this is a very senior age for an animal that typically lives to be between 9-12 years.
Hanna (Potbelly Pig)
Hanna is a two year old female potbelly pig that was surrendered by The Calgary Humane Society. She was initially brought in to the Humane Society as an alleged stray by a couple that found her “wandering in the middle of the street” (in the city of Calgary) and were nice enough to stop for her to “hop into their car”.
In my fifteen plus years of experience in dealing with pigs, I have never had the good fortune as to be able to catch a stray pig in the middle of a street without the help of several volunteers, a series of elaborate chutes and several hours (sometimes days) let alone convince them to “hop into my car” – not to mention that potbelly pigs are not particularly good “hoppers”.
As I try to monitor Kijiji and various sales sites for fraudulent and inhumane animal ads (such as “Micro Mini” & “Tea Cup Potbelly Pigs” – of which there is no such thing!! And two-week old piglets ready for new homes, four-week old puppies, kittens, etc.) I noticed a photo and description of a two year old female potbelly pig in Calgary that was listed as “Free to good home”. I contacted the owners to warn them about the dangers of giving an animal away for free, especially a farm animal and suggested that they charge at the very least a minimal fee and be very careful with screening potential homes. I never received a reply. A couple of weeks later, Hanna was surrendered to The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary. Not surprisingly, she matched the description of the pig I saw in the photo on the kijiji ad.
At two years of age, it would have been nice to have at the very least known what her name was prior to her surrender. Nonetheless, the newly-named Hanna will have a wonderful forever home at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary living like a real pig should amongst a large social group of other potbelly pigs in an enriched piggy-suited environment complete with wading pools, grazing pastures and plenty of space with unlimited rooting potential.
Hanna has since been introduced to all the other potbelly pigs at the sanctuary and I was able to raise enough money to have her spayed shortly after her surrender.
The rescue story of this old girl along with her baby Liberty and two others (Julie and Rosie) is a simple one – R.A.S.T.A. paid the price (per pound of flesh) in order to save their lives. Aside from taking in stray and abandoned animals in addition to those surrendered by their owners, The Alberta SPCA, Calgary Humane Society and other shelters, when space and finances allow, R.A.S.T.A. also engages in the active rescue of animals that are otherwise headed for slaughter. In order to save a farm animal’s life, one generally has to pay the meat price of that animal. For a few hundred dollars, R.A.S.T.A. purchased the freedom and a future for these four girls.
Sadly, Daisy passed away overnight in her shelter (believed to be from old age) in the winter of 2009 but not before enjoying her last six years of life in peace at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary; seeing her baby grow up in a vastly different environment than she had known amongst people that love her dearly and were interested in nothing more than providing the best possible home for her.
Bella (Potbelly Piglet)
Bella’s story began with her being sold by yet another unethical potbelly pig breeder to yet another admittedly uneducated individual who lived in Calgary (where it is illegal to own potbelly pigs) and wanted her simply because she was “oh so cute”. Having done absolutely zero research on the proper care of potbelly pigs and their needs, the owner eventually realized that Bella was indeed a farm animal with typical pig behaviors, like rooting and ripping up carpets. Shortly after, R.A.S.T.A. was contacted and I was pressured to take her.
Max & Isabelle (Yorkshire Pigs)
These two cuties believed to be brother and sister, were picked up as strays running down the road. They were approximately six months old at 250lbs. which is when pigs are usually killed and my theory is that they were the lucky two that got away while being loaded up for slaughter and yet somehow, on their own they managed to find their way to less than 1km of the Sanctuary gates!! As there were no pig farms anywhere near RASTA’s area, it has always remained a mystery as to how Max and Isabelle suddenly appeared one day.
Although both animals were very large at an approximate weight of 900lbs they were very gentle and eager to flop on their sides for belly rubs. Their size was truly impressive so much so that they stopped traffic on the road in front of the Sanctuary on a regular basis. Since the majority of pigs are killed as mere babies or shut away within the confines of factory farms where they spend their lives immobilized in Gestation Crates, most people never get a chance to see a full grown pig enjoying life.
Contrary to popular belief, pigs are not dirty or mean animals. Much smarter than dogs or cats, (actually the fourth smartest animals on the planet!) they are very intelligent as they have been documented to have the intellect of a seven year old child. They are extremely clean animals and will not go to the bathroom in their stall, unless they are not given a choice. The reason that they roll in the mud in the summer time is to cool off, protect themselves from the sun (as the mud serves as a sunscreen) and to protect themselves from the mosquitoes. They are very social, gentle and very sensitive animals.
Both Max and Isabelle lived happy and healthy lives at the Sanctuary until mobility issues started to set in later in life. I treated them for some time with supplements and then pain medicine and eventually had to make the heartbreaking decision to have them put to sleep.
Dolly (Potbelly Piglet)
Referred by the Calgary Humane Society, Dolly’s former owner surrendered her to The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary as he was no longer able to provide her with the proper care that she needed. Dolly has made several new friends since arriving at the sanctuary.
Bonny & Clyde
Destined for slaughter, Bonny & Clyde were sold for a mere $10 to the highest bidder at a local livestock auction. Fortunately for the pair, RASTA was present at the sale to intervene and offer these two a much happier fate at the RASTA Sanctuary.
Sadly Clyde passed away in the winter of 2010 from what was believed to be a large tumor on his liver while Bonny remained with us for a few more years before eventually meeting up with her mate at the rainbow bridge.
Spanky & Harley
Rescued late in the fall of 2009, Spanky and Harley had come a long way since first coming to the Sanctuary. Both animals were morbidly obese and had terribly overgrown hooves. As a result of their limited mobility and painful conditions, they had a number of deep-set physical and emotional problems. Sadly due to the extent of the neglect they had endured over the long period of time prior to their arrival at the sanctuary, they will never be able to recover fully. However, I am happy to report that nearly 90% of their mobility had been restored.
Together with a significant loss of weight and the corrective trimming of their overgrown hooves, both animals had regained their mobility. As movement was no longer painful, both Spanky and Harley enjoyed socializing with the many other potbelly pigs at the sanctuary. Another wonderful result of the weight loss, had been the partial restoration of their sight. The huge fat rolls that once covered their eyes had diminished. They had also both benefited beautifully from their enhanced diet as their skin had improved and their hair was finally starting to grow in nicely. Best of all, both Spanky and Harley were very happy.
Since arriving at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary, both Spanky and Harley had lost a massive amount of weight. As a result of the weight loss, Spanky had a great deal of loose skin hanging under his jowl, his belly and above his eyes. The abundance of loose skin above his eyes which were once tight folds of fat that forced his eyes closed, now hung loosely but still impaired his vision. After a great deal of careful consultation with one of R.A.S.T.A.’s local veterinarians, the decision to have Spanky undergo surgery to remove the excess skin was made. Scheduled for a “jowl and tummy tuck” along with a “brow-lift” I was very excited for Spanky as this would truly be the icing on the cake for the boy that had overcome so much adversity in his short life. I literally couldn’t wait knowing that Spanky would soon be able to get around with greater ease and be able to finally see the world! As the surgery was expected to be quite expensive, it took me some time to fund raise enough money for Spanky’s big day.
Finally, the day arrived and on June 24th 2010 at 8am I dropped Spanky off for his surgery. At 2pm I received a phone call from one of the vet’s assistants informing me that they had encountered some complications with the procedure and that Spanky had died at the clinic. He informed me that Spanky had not taken well to the drugs they had given him and believed that he had suffered a heart attack. He continued to explain that due to their inability to properly anesthetize Spanky, they had decided to abort the procedure. Spanky never had his surgery.
To say that I was devastated of the loss of one of the sweetest souls I had ever met would be a severe understatement. His death was so utterly unexpected and tragic it has left a huge gaping void in many hearts and lives at the sanctuary. His death was a startling reminder for us all of just how fragile life can be. Spanky was very loved and respected by the other potbelly pigs with whom he shared a life and was undoubtedly one of the favorites of the many volunteers and visitors to the sanctuary. Not a day goes by that he isn’t missed.
Thelma & Louise (Guinea Hens)
Thelma and Louise were rescued from the same livestock auction as Bonny & Clyde. The girls were actually sold to one of the highest bidders; an individual who was buying up all the baby bunnies and other cheap animals to train his hunting dogs. More specifically he maims birds so they are unable to fly and throws them to a litter of puppies to tear them apart along with other small and or young defenseless animals, thereby instilling aggression in his dogs. Disturbingly, this is a rather common practice among hunting dog breeders and trainers.
After many years at the Sanctuary, both Thelma and Louise passed away and sadly their ages were unknown.
Living in the most unimaginably filthy conditions among rotting carcasses, no water or shelter and nothing more than moldy bits of bread to eat, Arnold was rescued from a southern Alberta roadside zoo. Unfortunately, R.A.S.T.A. was only able to liberate a handful of prisoners from this living hell and sadly to this day many animals continue to silently suffer in equally deplorable conditions, despite continual public protest.
In the early spring of 2009, Arnold was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure meaning that his heart had become weak and unable to beat on its own. Fortunately this is a condition that can be managed (and sometimes cured) with medication enabling Arnold to continue enjoying a full and happy life.
Sadly, despite every effort made, at nearly eleven years of age, Arnold passed away October 20, 2009. He will be terribly missed as he became affectionately known as “Uncle Arnold” to all the other pigs at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary.
From the early age of eight weeks old, Alarma spent the first eight months of her life locked in a washroom, thereby separated from the other members of her family. Her ignorant former owner feared that due to Alarma’s breed she could pose a potential threat to her children and rather than socializing and training her new puppy, she subjected her to the mental torture and physical neglect of solitary confinement. As a result of the damage that Alarma had suffered throughout her formative months she had developed an understandable aggression towards people and other animals, as well as a whole array of other behavioral issues. Due to this horrible abuse, Alarma’s former owner deemed her to be “out of control” and subsequently had her scheduled to be destroyed before her first birthday. Fortunately R.A.S.T.A. was able to intervene and save Alarma’s life.
Due to the severity of the abuse Alarma had suffered, adoption was not an option. Instead, this former victim of gross breed discrimination was taken on as a permanent resident at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary where she enjoyed nine wonderful years receiving continual rehabilitation, socialization, training, understanding and love that she so desperately needed. Sadly, Alarma was diagnosed with bone cancer (in her jaw) and passed away October 20, 2008. Alarma was the first official rescue dog that the R.A.S.T.A. organization took in and she is missed to this day.
Contrary to Popular Belief:
- Rottweilers, Pit bulls, Dobermans, Mastiffs and other Guardian Breeds are not mean dogs.
- All Animals are Products of their Environment.
- Guardian Breeds are amongst the safest, most passive, tolerant, even tempered, loyal and trustworthy breeds to have around children.
- Pit Bulls were actually raised in early England as nursery dogs to look over children in orphanages. It wasn’t until greedy profit-motivated individuals decided to cash in on the Pit Bull’s physical advantages and turn them into a fighting breed.
- Breed bans are absolutely pointless because it’s not a dog-problem but a people-problem. The same lazy, ignorant people who couldn’t be bothered to socialize and train a Pit Bull or a Rottie will just as easily screw up a Golden Retriever or a Cocker Spaniel.
Lucky was surrendered by a girl that received her as an unexpected present. Living in the city and unable to provide Lucky with the proper care, companionship and environment that a duck requires, Lucky was truly a lucky duck to have been surrendered to the RASTA Sanctuary where she enjoyed a lifelong home among many other ducks, geese as well as other animals.
Lucky: Before & After
No longer a fluffy yellow duckling, Lucky had grown into a beautiful white duck. She had settled in nicely at the Sanctuary and had made a number of new feathered and furry friends.
This little boy was surrendered by the Calgary Humane Society shortly after he was dropped off by someone who had received him as a joke on Easter.
Chicks and baby bunnies are often given as gifts at Easter, especially to children. This practice is both irresponsible and cruel as the animals rarely, if ever find lifetime committed homes and generally end up neglected or discarded shortly after the novelty has worn off.
Chicklette: Before & After
Chicklette had grown up into a beautiful big bird and contrary to what we initially believed to be a little hen, Chicklette had actually grown into a very handsome and very large rooster!