After Shasta died, my neighbor and I had a conversation about what we should do with the sheep. We knew that they would have the best life with another flock and without their guardian llama at the property, it was going to be best if they went to another property. My neighbor wanted them to go to a spinner’s flock, as both their wool was great for spinning. But in the off chance that we couldn’t find the right home for them with a local spinner, I started to look at nearby farm sanctuaries to see if anyone might be able to at least temporarily house the two sheep.

While a new home for Mady and Minnie was found pretty quickly, it was really interesting to look at what farm sanctuaries are and the animals they care for. There are farm sanctuaries all over the country and even a few around the world. These sanctuaries focus on providing a safe home for rescued farm animals and often do education and advocacy work.

The first official farm sanctuary in the United States was established in 1986 by Gene Baur and Lorri Houston and was aptly named Farm Sanctuary. Since its inception, the Farm Sanctuary has grown to three different locations the public can visit and has even partnered with Jon and Tracey Stewart on another location called ‘The Daily Squeal’ after Jon left The Daily Show.

In the Pacific Northwest, there are a few independent farm sanctuaries. I do want to mention that I’ll be distinguishing between farm sanctuaries as a whole and the organization Farm Sanctuary through intentional capitalization (farm sanctuary = all organizations and farms working on rescue and rehabilitation; Farm Sanctuary = the organization started by Gene Baur and Lorri Houston). I also want to mention that other than doing very similar work, the following sanctuaries are not officially associated with the Farm Sanctuary.

The Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary is located in Scio, Oregon (about half way between Portland and Eugene, Oregon) and is home to 250 animals. There are pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and even a blind bison named Helen and her best friend, a calf named Oliver. You can donate to the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary here, can follow along on their journey on Facebook, and if you live in the area, you can volunteer!

In Western Washington, there’s Pasado’s Safe Haven, an organization that’s dedicated to providing sanctuary for animals, homelessness prevention, outreach, and helping to investigate animal cruelty. Their 85 acre sanctuary is located outside of Seattle, Washington and is often home to around 250 animals at any given time. Animals like dogs, cats, pigs, goats, cows, and many other farm animals call this wonderful place home and a few are even available for adoption.

  • You can donate to or volunteer with Pasado’s Safe Haven! This organization even has internships relating to animal care, communications, homelessness prevention, and investigating cruelty cases.

Across the border in Canada, there’s the Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary. This small farm is located in the Fraser Valley and is about an hour’s drive outside Vancouver, BC. There are dogs, sheep, pigs, cats, hens, ducks, turkeys, and even a donkey that call this place home! Like with Pasado’s and Lighthouse, you can volunteer with Happy Herd and can follow along on Facebook.

These are just three of the farm animal sanctuaries that exist within the Pacific Northwest. One of the biggest reasons I love sanctuaries like the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary and Pasado’s Safe Haven is because they work on providing experiences and education to people who might not meet a farm animal any other way. Caring for and having a relationship with the chickens, sheep, and Shasta the llama has been one of the best parts of my life in the last few years. In an increasingly developed world, it can be hard for many folks to have any sort of understanding and face time with farm animals and I truly believe that these relationships can be life-changing.