Rescue And Sanctuary for Threatened Animals

As a Sanctuary, R.A.S.T.A. provides a Lifelong Safe Haven and Permanent Home to the many rescued animals in it’s care and thus does not normally adopt out any of it’s animals.  If you are looking to adopt a dog, cat or other domestic companion animal please visit the Links Page for a list of other Alberta Rescue Organizations.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet”

~ Albert Einstein ~

Jasmine & Saffron (Adopted!)

At just nine years of age, Jasmine a beautiful thoroughbred mare was sold for slaughter while pregnant. At the time, she had a still-nursing four month old foal which was viciously torn from her side in the auction ring as they were both sold to separate buyers. While her foal was sold to a private home, Jasmine was sold to meat dealers. R.A.S.T.A. was able to intervene saving both Jasmine’s life as well as the life of her unborn baby. Saffy was born September 10th 2001 at the R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary where she lives happily today with her mother.



Sadly, many people are unaware that Alberta is in fact the kill capital in North America for Horse Slaughter. With numbers as high as 750 horses slaughtered daily at the Fort MacLeod slaughter house, less than 10% of the animals killed are old or unsound. The majority are young healthy horses disposed of by various sporting industries such as rodeos, chuck wagons, races, equestrian events, etc. as well as animals that were once beloved pets.

The majority of the horse flesh is sold to countries like Belgium and France for human consumption while some is used in pet foods. Some people may be surprised to know that a lot of by-products like gelatin (used in making jell-o) and glycerine (in many soaps, shampoos, creams, etc.) are actually derived from dead horses. Cruelty-free alternatives are in fact possible as gelatin can easily be substituted by agar agar and it is possible to find vegetable-based glycerin, it just requires reading the ingredients label prior to purchasing a product.


Barely alive, this day-old calf was found discarded on a manure pile at a B.C. dairy farm. Taken from his mother at just a few hours old, Theodore was denied the basic care that he so desperately needed since his veterinary costs would exceed the potential profits he would make for the farmer when slaughtered for veal. Fortunately Theo’s story, unlike most dairy calves whose sad destiny is to end up a delicacy on someone’s plate, is one that ends happily at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary.



While most compassionate people aware of the cruelty involved in raising and slaughtering baby cows for veal would never support such an atrocity, many are unaware that the veal industry and the dairy industry go hand-in-hand. In fact, the veal industry is just a by-product of the dairy industry.

  • Like all other animals, cows must give birth every year in order to have milk to feed their young. However, in the dairy industry calves are viciously torn from their mother’s sides when they are just a few hours old and rather than receiving the milk from their mothers, they are fed an artificial anemia inducing diet as the milk is collected for “higher purposes” (human consumption).
  • The veal calves, which are by-products of the dairy industry, are kept in tiny crates where they can barely move (can’t even turn around) so their muscles remain underdeveloped and their flesh remains tender to the taste until such time that they are slaughtered for the human delicacy known as veal.
  • The sad fact is; if you drink milk or consume dairy products (cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, milk chocolate, etc.) you support the veal industry. To learn more, please visit; www.milksucks.com

Update on Theodore

Theodore is now six years old and weighs close to 3,000 pounds!! Pretty good for a calf that wasn’t supposed to survive the first night.


Ricky was brought to The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary by an officer from The Alberta SPCA after being seized from a neglectful home.  She was dropped off at the same time as Buster and Bailey, two of the more recent potbelly pig rescues.  At ten years of age, it is likely that Ricky had spent the majority of her life living inside, and on top of her small cage.  As parrots are highly intelligent, complex, social and essentially wild animals R.A.S.T.A. feels very strongly that they should not live in cages or solitude.  R.A.S.T.A. believes that these animals, like all living creatures should enjoy as natural and stimulating a life as possible with the freedom to fly and live amongst their own kind.


After a brief stay at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary, it became evident that Ricky was starved for the attention and companionship that only other macaws can provide and as such it was determined that she would enjoy a far more fulfilling life at The World Parrot Refuge, a free-flight sanctuary that is located on Vancouver Island.  I spoke to my friend Wendy Huntbatch that manages the amazing facility with several hundreds of birds and fortunately for Ricky, she had room for one more.  Due to the consistently growing numbers of unwanted and homeless parrots, The World Parrot Refuge will be expanding it’s facility to further accommodate many more rescued birds. 


Although it is difficult for me to see some of the animals go to other sanctuaries, and on occasion to adoptive homes the best interests of the animals always comes first.  The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary pride’s itself in providing exceptional care to the many animals and as the founder and primary caregiver, I go to great lengths to create as natural, comfortable and stimulating an environment for the many residents as possible.  Unfortunately, various factors such as limited space, lack of volunteer support, climate and finances sometimes limit my abilities and as such I must act accordingly.  As much as I would like to hold onto every single animal that comes through the sanctuary gates, this selfish way of thinking would ultimately deprive some of the rescued animals from enjoying a stimulating and happy life.  Although it can be challenging to sometimes be faced with difficult decisions, as the stewards of the animals we all must do what is responsible, ethical and ultimately in the best interests of those that we are caring for.

Blossom (Adopted!)

This beautiful girl, along with here fellow goat friend Flossie were surrendered to The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary by their 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. Sadly, Flossie has passed away since.


Tango & Romeo

Victims of the novelty pet industry, these two adorable boys were eventually sold for slaughter when their novelty soon wore off. At just two years of age, these once-loved and treasured pets were reduced to the mere price of their flesh when R.A.S.T.A. was able to intervene and bring them safely to the Sanctuary.


Chickens Rescued From Wood Chipper

These are photos of forty hens that R.A.S.T.A. rescued from a “small” factory farm in Camrose, Alberta. They are one-year-old egg laying hens that were scheduled to be “disposed of” in a wood chipper (alive) after their egg production had decreased by 10%. Unfortunately R.A.S.T.A. had only enough space and money to rescue forty hens, leaving 4960 birds behind. The remaining birds were killed in a wood chipper.


  • Sadly, the majority of store bought eggs come from factory farms which consist of battery caged hens in huge warehouse-type structures often housing an average of 17,500 hens. There are currently 26 million battery cage egg laying hens in Canada.
  • Battery cages measure 16″ by 18″ (size of an average web page) with as many as seven birds confined to each cage. The hens have no room to stretch their wings or even stand up straight.
  • Due to the insane confinement of these birds, their beaks are usually cut off with a hot blade (an incredibly painful procedure) when they are just chicks to minimize the damage of pecking one another.
  • After one year, egg production naturally decreases to 80% which means a loss of revenue for the industrialized factory farm profiting from the the misery of these animals and so they are often “disposed of” and replaced with younger stock. Sadly, one of the most common ways that farmers dispose of laying hens is to throw them into a wood chipper (alive). The gruesome remains are then often fed to other animals as a cheap protein ration or used as compost.

Please do Not Support the Cruelty of these Factory Farms

Free Range Eggs (Not Free Run Eggs) are the most humane alternative on the market to battery caged eggs, which offer the hens room to roam with some access to the outdoors, depending on the weather. Free range eggs are commonly available in most grocery stores.

Egg Substitute Unfortunately, all hens go through the same transportation and slaughter procedures, so of course the best option for hens is not to use eggs at all. Many common and easy egg substitute recipes are available online. Please visit; www.chooseveg.com

After some TLC at the R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary

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These are the same hens that R.A.S.T.A. rescued after a couple of months of TLC at the Sanctuary.

Another 200 Hens Saved from Live Disposal in Wood Chipper

Recently some R.A.S.T.A. volunteers liberated another 200 hens from a couple of factory farms in southern Saskatchewan. Disturbingly, one particular barn housed over 10,000 egg laying hens, which is not unusual by industry standards. Unlike the previous birds R.A.S.T.A. rescued, these hens were only six months old at which point they were slated for disposal due to their slight decrease in egg production. The volunteers had to move very quickly to save as many birds as they could as to their sheer horror, the farmers were killing the birds on sight by throwing them live into wood chippers!!!!!!! Limited with space and finances, R.A.S.T.A. was only able to keep fifty hens as the rest were dispersed among carefully screened adoptive homes throughout Canada.



Jordan (Adopted!)

Similar to Emma’s story, Jordan was being kept at a local boarding facility when his owners simply stopped visiting him or paying for his upkeep. Faced with an abandoned animal, the owners of the boarding facility contacted R.A.S.T.A. for help. Fortunately R.A.S.T.A. had space to accommodate Jordan at the Sanctuary as their alternative was to dispose of him at the local livestock auction where he would most likely end up going for slaughter. What makes Jordan’s story more upsetting is that he was a little boy’s pride and joy but his former owners obviously couldn’t care less when they chose to abandon him.






On a cold November night, a tiny kitten mysteriously appeared on my doorstep at two in the morning. With no one looking for this sweet little girl, I assume that she was most likely dumped off by someone who couldn’t be bothered with her care. It truly is amazing how this tiny creature found its way to the door of my house, as my home is quite secluded, let alone in the middle of a cold winter’s night.



Respectfully named after one of R.A.S.T.A.’s former volunteers that specialized in providing exceptional care to the diverse feline family, Roxie has since bonded with Houdini, another cat that came to me as an abandoned kitten a few years ago. Although R.A.S.T.A. is primarily a refuge for farm animals, I also provide a lifelong safe haven to many unwanted cats whenever possible.


Houdini also mysteriously appeared one day at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary. I found him as a six week old kitten in a marshy area where the pigs normally wallow, very close to the road that runs in front of the property. As it was raining very heavily that day and Houdini was so tiny, I couldn’t see him but rather had to follow the sound of his faint cries. Eventually his cries led me to a tiny kitten, soaked to the bone and struggling to free himself from the mud. It was obvious that Houdini had been thrown from a vehicle, likely while it was moving to have landed right smack dab in the middle of the slough.



Despite his rough start at life, Houdini has fully recovered and now thoroughly enjoys a wonderfully relaxing and leisurely lifestyle at The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary.


Gigi (Adopted!)

Once a greatly valued sport horse, Gigi was eventually forgotten about and abandoned by her former owner as she got on in years. Cared for at a friend’s acreage for a number of years, Gigi’s former owner simply began visiting less and less until eventually ceasing all contact whatsoever. Shortly after, her caregivers kindly surrendered her to the sanctuary where she was eagerly welcomed and quickly accepted by R.A.S.T.A.’s eclectic family, equine and otherwise.




Sadly, the majority of horses used in sporting events are simply treated like expensive sporting equipment. They are only kept around as long as they are winning the ribbons or able to produce profitable offspring. As soon as their bills outweigh the revenue they generate, they are generally disposed of with slaughter remaining a very popular choice among many so-called “horse lovers”. Very few horses remain in one home their entire lives and even less are ever paid back for their many years of service by being given a retirement home.

30 Hens & Roosters

This eclectic group of hens and roosters were surrendered by the Calgary Humane Society shortly after they were seized from a warehouse in Calgary. Unfortunately there were over 200 birds seized but due to financial and space limitations as well as considerations for the welfare of the many other birds at the sanctuary, I was only able to responsibly and ethically commit to the lifetime care of 30 of the birds.


Like the majority of the birds R.A.S.T.A. rescues (and sadly many other farm animals) the first time most birds enjoy freedom and experience sunshine on their backs or the earth beneath their feet is after they come to the Sanctuary.

Liberty, Julie & Rosie (Adopted!)

The rescue story of these three girls, along with Liberty’s mother Daisy 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. Liberty is the daughter of Daisy and the other girls are of no relation.

Since the only interaction most cows have with humans is through an electric prod, whip or scorching iron brand, not surprisingly, these girls were absolutely terrified of people for several months after arriving at the sanctuary. It took me a very long time to gain their trust. As I do not chase animals at the sanctuary but rather call them by their names and offer treats and scratches instead they eventually realized that no one was out to hurt them. Just as soon as they trusted me enough, I removed their ear tags and treated them for their many wounds.

The girls were covered in numerous painful brands (burned skin) and Daisy, as an older cow had her ears torn and mangled from the countless ear tags she had been pierced with. The younger girls had had their heads doused with a corrosive de-horning powder which burns for several weeks after it’s application with it’s intended result to cause enough damage to the animal’s head, thereby preventing the growth of horns. I did the best I could to draw out this poison, using moist green tea bags and creative bandages along with other natural remedies. Although I managed to alleviate much of their pain and discomfort, unfortunately the damage had already been done and the girls will never have horns. Sadly, Daisy has passed away.

For more information about the truth behind the cattle industry, please visit; www.madcowboy.com

about Howard Lyman; a fourth generation cattle rancher who interestingly enough would like you to eat NO MEAT!! Buy his book; “No More Bull!”


Holly (Adopted!)

Used as a breeding goat her whole life, Holly was surrendered by her former owners after she was unable to produce any more babies. As all of Holly’s offspring were slaughtered, I never understood why her former owners decided to take pity on her and surrender her to a sanctuary. I am very happy to have Holly as a member of the R.A.S.T.A. family, however this prejudicial logic has always eluded me. Perhaps it was simply because they had formed a bond with Holly by having her for a few years and giving her a name. If that were to be the case then perhaps if more time and effort could be taken to acknowledge more animals on an individual basis, there would be less desire for killing. The simple fact is that if one actually takes the time to get to know an animal they (generally) could not eat him or her as this is something that I hear all the time from the many visitors and volunteers at the Sanctuary.


The majority of the bunnies that come to The R.A.S.T.A. sanctuary are as a result of thrown away Easter presents. After children have had their fun with them and their parents realize the responsibility associated with having a pet, they are commonly discarded in local parks and playgrounds. While some people may feel that releasing a domestic bunny into the wild is a nice thing to do, it actually couldn’t be any crueler. Domestic bunnies are not like wild rabbits and in most cases are not able to survive in the wild. Pet rabbits that have lived indoors are ill equipped to deal with cold climates and predators. While wild rabbits are born with fur, domestic bunnies are born naked and often freeze to death outdoors.

As rabbits are notoriously prolific breeders with a gestation period of 30 days and typically between 5 to 8 babies in a litter, it doesn’t take long for five bunnies to turn into five hundred. When their numbers begin to get high, most cities and towns deal with the problem by poisoning or shooting the animals. Fortunately, R.A.S.T.A. was able to serve as a home for over two hundred rabbits that were humanely caught, sterilized and released at the sanctuary.

Unfortunately, most bunnies originate from pet stores which commonly get them from mass breeding operations (like puppy mills) and as neither party is concerned about the well being of the animals, they are sold to anyone and everyone with money to spend. The bunnies are never sterilized and the females are often even pregnant at time of purchase.

Doc (Adopted!)

This American Registered Quarter Horse was surrendered by his owner because he was believed to have a crippling disease known as wobbles.  Diagnosed by two different vet clinics as having this affliction (one vet even going as far as to suggest that Doc was not good for anything, a danger to have around and suggested to get rid of him going so far as to offer the name of a killer buyer who would slaughter him!!) the owner contacted me in tears asking if I would accept him to the sanctuary.


Shortly after receiving Doc, I assessed him and had his hooves trimmed by R.A.S.T.A.’s farrier.  As it turned out, the angles of Doc’s hooves on each of his feet were all different resulting in a wobbly gait.  This could be compared to a person wearing high heels on one foot and a flat sandal on another making walking very awkward.  It’s no wonder that he appeared to be wobbly but he never did have wobbles!!  With the corrective trimming of his hooves, Doc’s legs were gradually straightened, his muscles evened out and his joints realigned.  Doc underwent a great deal of rehabilitative therapy to help him recover from the damage caused by a shoddy farrier.

Shiloh (Adopted!)

This sweet boy 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.  There are currently 10 (non camera-friendly) feral cats living at the Sanctuary, some of which are beginning to come around and become quite friendly while others are still very wild.





Livestock Auctions

All different kinds of animals are sold on a regular basis at livestock auctions.  From domestic cats and dogs, various pet birds, bunnies and guinea pigs to all kinds of farm animals as well as exotics are sold to simply the highest bidder.  As there are no regulations in place to control what kinds of homes these animals end up in the welfare of the creatures is rarely a consideration.  Confined to various sorts of containers from cardboard and wooden boxes to buckets and even Tupperware containers hardly large enough to fit the animals, the majority go without food or water for the entire duration of the sales, sometimes as long as three days.   Not surprisingly, there is a fairly high mortality rate among the smaller creatures at such sales.

The majority of the individuals that attend livestock auctions are typically various kinds of animal dealers that are interested in the animals for their meat, fur or profits that can be made by breeding and selling their offspring.  Some are there buying up breeding dogs to stock their puppy mills while others are buying cats and rabbits for fur farms.  Some individuals buy cheap animals (typically pigeons and baby bunnies) to train their hunting dogs by allowing puppies to tear the animals apart and encouraging their aggression while others purchase cheap animals to perform various experiments.  A good deal of petting zoos dispose of their older animals at these sales and sadly the vast majority of these hand-tamed friendly pets are sold for slaughter.  A particularly bad time for bunnies is around Easter when babies are displayed in colorful baskets and sold for as little as $1.



Sarah was rescued at the same time from the same livestock auction as the other birds.

With the recent rescue of Sergio, another Pilgrim Goose, Sarah has finally got herself a boyfriend.

Splish, Splash, Splosh & Crackers (Ducks)

This foursome of ducks was rescued from a similar livestock auction where the majority of the ducks and geese were being purchased by farmers in the horrifically cruel Foie Gras industry.   The ducks and geese raised for foie gras suffer the pain of having a pipe shoved down their throats three times a day while they are force fed two pounds of grain for the purpose of causing the diseased fatty liver known as foie gras that some people consider to be a delicacy.

Pigeons (Released!)

Once again rescued from a local livestock auction.  As pigeons are considered worthless animals to most, they are often sold in large quantities for little more than a couple of dollars.  Although some are collected and bred by various fanciers who race the animals and engage in competitions, the birds are of no value when they are no longer winning and thus are disposed of.  While some people purchase pigeons to slaughter for stews, a popular pass time for farm kids is to get drunk and shoot the birds within a confined  space such as a barn loft.


After first arriving at the Sanctuary, the pigeons are confined to a large aviary within the barn loft so they can get used to their new surroundings.  As many pigeons have a homing instinct, they will simply fly back to where they came from if released right away.  Slowly I increase the size of their living space until they are eventually given free flight and complete freedom at the sanctuary.  As pigeons are quite territorial, they generally stay quite close to home.

Prince & Pirate

Shortly after their arrival to the sanctuary, it became evident that the Alberta climate was not suitable for these two beautiful boys and although large, The R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary was just not large enough for their exploratory taste.  As I do not believe in putting birds in cages, Prince and Pirate were given free flight and although very intelligent, the mischievous pair did not respect property lines and I would often get calls from various neighbors letting me know the boys were visiting them…again.


In the end, Wendy Huntbatch from the World Parrot Refuge on Vancouver Island was kind enough to accept the boys to her free-flight sanctuary.  R.A.S.T.A. had them flown out via West Jet with a chaperon and the boys were released shortly after.  They were very eager to join the local flock of many other wild peacocks, and finally meet some ladies.

Marco (Adopted!)

As a baby, Marco lived in a house and was treated kindly while he served as a child’s pet.  However, as he grew bigger and the child eventually lost interest , Web.Pic.MarcoR.A.S.T.A. received a rather distressing phone call from Marco’s owners threatening that if I did not take him into the sanctuary, he would be “taken out back and shot”.

Sadly, these sort of threats are nothing new for me as I continue to receive calls from people informing me that “I am their pet’s only hope” and if I do not take them they will be killed.  Such disturbing calls range from individuals threatening to drown kittens, shoot dogs, “run over puppies in a cardboard box in the driveway”,  slaughter horses, abandon their domestic pets in the the wilderness or have their pet destroyed at the vet.

What makes these stories more upsetting is that often the animals being so violently disposed of are seniors that have lived with the family their entire lives.

Polo (Adopted!)

Polo was found as a baby tied to a fence at the High River High School in the middle of a snow storm.  I was told later that this was a prank played by some ignorant and cruel farm kids.


“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men”

~ Leonardo da Vinci ~

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