Originally published December 29, 2014 at The Los Angeles Beat
Hanging out with animals can be the greatest confidence builder, ego check and source of unconditional love. If everyone in the world would regularly make a habit of spending quality time with animals we might have a lot more happier people on this planet. This Offbeat L.A. author routinely seeks out local “animal encounters” and visits rescue organizations for those very reasons. Several months ago a visit to the Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita was a truly magical experience. Luckily I found another organization, very similar to the Gentle Barn, that also specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating farm animals that have been abused or abandoned. Located on a scrubby 26-acres in Acton, 45 minutes northeast of L.A. on the 14 freeway, Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres is a great experience for all ages.
Home to over 100 cows, pigs, horses, goats, sheep and more, Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 as a direct response to the cruelties and mistreatment of animals by factory farms and stockyards. With two additional larger locations in Watkins Glen, NY and Orland, CA, this organization has a mission much greater than the animal lives it saves. They are determined to educate visitors about the evils of industrialized farming and to promote a vegan diet. Obviously not all visitors are ready or willing to make fundamental dietary changes, but a visit to Farm Sanctuary creates awareness about how individual choices can affect the world around us.
Taking the hour-long tour at Farm Sanctuary is full of both joy and heartbreaking stories. It is inspiring to meet and great the animals, petting them and giving them hugs, but it is extremely sad to hear tales of the abuse experienced by some of them, such as a slightly wounded animal being left for dead in a stock pile at a factory farm. Seeing these abused animals in a thriving environment is heartwarming. Visitors are taken by group into the various enclosures to meet pigs, steer, chickens, turkeys, goats and sheep. While listening to information about the animals from a knowledgeable guide we are given the opportunity to bond with the animals and take photos with them. A visit to Farm Sanctuary might be exactly the prescription you require if some grounding and compassion is needed in your life.
Farm Sanctuary’s Animal Acres: 5200 Escondido Canyon Road
Acton, CA 93510; (661) 269-5404.
Admission: Adults $10; Children $5.
Tours held Sundays at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.