Photo Credit: Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary
Supporting sanctuaries is at the core of what abillion stands for. In celebration of Pride month, we’re celebrating LGBTQ+ owned businesses whose products our amazing community have reviewed and recommended. We also want to shine a spotlight on LGBTQ+ owned and run animal sanctuaries, and ask that you create an impact, and help us drive donations to these worthy non-profit partners this month and beyond.
Some of the LGBTQ+ run sanctuaries we work with include Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary, Happy Hen, and Fundación Santuario Gaia and we’d love to tell you a little more about them.
Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary is located in Otaki, New Zealand. It was founded by Kate Waghorn in November 2009. Today, she runs it with her partner Coces Vehreschild. The sanctuary provides a new home for abused, neglected, mistreated, and former farm animals. In addition to supporting animal rights, the sanctuary stands against oppression of any kind, including sexism, inequality, and environmental destruction. They actively promote LGBTQ+ causes by selling queer badges and stickers in their shop, displaying trans and rainbow flags in the sanctuary, and educating people about queer issues and rights.
Sanctuary crew from Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary, standing at top left. Photo Credit: Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary
Kate identifies as a “queer anarchist activist”. She has spent most of her life volunteering and working for non-profit organisations and community groups with a strong focus on animal rights, anti-war, environment, and topics related to feminism. She was inspired to create a safe place for animals due to New Zealand's exports which are mainly agricultural. Animals tend to have a hard time despite legislature attempts. Due to this, she says, "the relationships between poverty, domestic violence, animal abuse or neglect are present." There is, she contends, still a massive amount of work left to improve the lives of domestic and wild animals.
With the onset of COVID-19, the sanctuary has had fewer resources. Kate says most of their volunteers consist of travelers from other countries. Due to the new visa regulations implemented by the government, they can only partake in agricultural work, leaving no room for volunteering. This will be a challenge during the upcoming winter season. As the number of volunteers has dropped to five, the sanctuary is looking for ways to employ people locally. At the moment, Kate is hoping to raise US$5,000 to help see the sanctuary through the winter. The funds will pay for winter feed for these animals in need.
Straun and Iris from Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary. Photo Credit: Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary
Zoe Rosenberg is the 18 year old founder of Happy Hen Sanctuary. Happy Hen gives refuge to abused and abandoned farm animals across California. At Happy Hen, there is a full-time veterinarian and an on-site clinic that provides intensive care for rescued animals. Their residents include animals rescued from California wildfires, factory farms, slaughterhouses, cock-fighting roosters seized by police, and even 12 hens that survived a deadly truck crash while being shipped to slaughter on California freeways. They have saved nearly 1,000 lives over the last 6 years, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, quail, cows, pigs, goats, and sheep.
The inspiration for Happy Hen actually came from a childhood experience. Zoe’s family bought seven chicks from a local store. She says, "I've always heard of chickens as being stupid, and their lives didn't matter compared to dogs or cats." But, after losing one of the chicks to sickness, that experience changed her life. She began to look towards online communities with people who shared the same love for chickens as her. Simple activities like hanging out with them and researching these animals became her priority. When she was eleven years old, Zoe remembers stumbling onto the website of NSW Hen Rescue, an organisation in North-South Wales, Australia, that rescues hens from factory farms. After watching a video of the team helping hens from the cages and bringing them to the sanctuary, she recalls feeling devastated. The video reminded her of the chicks she had, and this feeling pushed her to take an active step towards helping chickens where she lived in California.
Zoe Rosenberg, the founder of Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary. Photo Credit: Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary
While animal rights are her main priority, but Zoe also supports LGBTQ+ issues as much as possible. She encourages everyone to take part in marches and rallies as she believes they do make a difference. She says, "there is power in numbers, and we need the government to see how many people support LGBTQ+ rights."
The biggest challenge Happy Hen Animal sanctuary faces right now is its lack of funding to cover operational costs. Another challenge is getting animals the medical care they deserve. Zoe will turn 19 on June 13th and has started a birthday fundraiser to raise $1,334 for the sanctuary. Her birthday wish is to raise donations to continue rescuing animals from factory farms and advocating to make a world better and safer for them.
Zoe with animals at Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary. Photo Credit: Happy Hen Animal Sanctuary
The Fundación Santuario Gaia, located in Camprodon (Girona) in the Pyrenees, is surrounded by forests, rivers and mountains. It was founded by Ismael Lopez, a veterinarian, and Cocque Fernandez in October 2012. Gaia, home to around 1,500 animals, is a vegan rescue and recovery center for farm animals, victims of livestock exploitation, abuse or abandonment. Lopez and Fernandez’'s mission is to provide a place where animals receive the necessary care so that they have a decent life for the rest of their lives. The sanctuary also stands against oppression of any kind, including homophobia and speciesism.
Cocque Fernandez, the co-founder and director along with Ismael Lopez, the founder of Fundación Santuario Gaia. Photo Credit: Fundación Santuario Gaia
In the beginning of the year, Lopez published a book titled "Animales como Tu'' meaning, “Animals Like You”. The book offers readers a deeper look into Ismael's life, his ability to share a unique understanding with animals starting from a young age, and how the sanctuary has grown over the years. It also features animals from the sanctuary who have played an important role in both their lives. Ismael describes Samuel the calf as his "best friend,” born as a twin to the dairy industry. As the industry considers a twin weaker than their sibling, Samuel was given to the sanctuary as he was considered to be of no use. Ismael writes, "a sanctuary is not entirely an idyllic place," but many animals are ill because of their past experiences, and they take a long time to establish trust. A reviewer quotes saying, "in the Gaia sanctuary, there is hope and love, but death is also present. Joy and sorrow are two themes that constantly occur in this place."
Photo Credit: Fundación Santuario Gaia