Nestled in the green foothills about an hour's drive north of Seattle, Pasado's Safe Haven is home to a lucky menagerie of animals who've been saved from a life of neglect and abuse. Pasado's mission is to not only care for these critters but also to find them "forever homes" where they can live out their days.
I remember learning about Pasado's not long after I moved to Seattle- it was founded in memory of a petting zoo donkey who was killed by some teenage boys.
Animal sanctuaries not only care for animals but also educate the public to take better care of them. For instance, these 3 white chickens are survivors of the Turlock egg farm, where farmers left 50,000 chickens to starve to death in 2012 when they couldn't afford to keep the farm going. The fraction of those birds who were able to be nursed back to health after the 2 weeks of starvation that they endured were taken in by animal sanctuaries around the nation. These three gals seemed to be doing quite well.
Cases like Turlock are the exception rather than the rule, but it's shocking to learn that there are actually no laws to protect farmed animals in the USA. The only "humane treatment" laws we have regulate how they are treated during transport and slaughter (and poor chickens and rabbits do not even have those protections and are often killed in horrible ways that cause great suffering.) During every moment of a farm animal's life up until that moment of death, the law allows any kind of treatment that is considered "standard industry practice." That means that if enough farms are doing it then it is legal.
This includes the standard practice of killing male baby chicks by grinding them alive in a meat grinder or suffocating them in a plastic garbage bag. Many well meaning folks are dismayed to learn that even their best efforts, buying "organic" eggs or raising "backyard chickens" are still just a cog in the egg industry machine where this is done as standard practice. While it's hard to hear these stories, it's good to know that the animals here will live a good life.
The most joyful animals that we met were the young pigs! It was so cool that we were allowed to walk among them in their yard. We loved petting them, watching them running around and chowing down on chards of fresh pumpkin.
I love the little guy in this photo- just look at his back legs- the very definition of skipping! I also was amazed at making eye contact with the pigs. You can tell how very intelligent and aware they are. I've heard that they are smarter than dogs and even human toddlers, and I believe it. Many of the pigs wore bandanas that said "Adopt Me!" and if I lived out in the country, I would seriously consider it. Pigs are so cool!
Not all pigs are little, though, like the ones that we got to walk with. Splash here is a very big pig, over 450 pounds (!) and she has quite a story to tell. It was not far from here in Washington state where one day a woman found Splash standing at the gate to her property. It turned out that Splash had escaped from a farm where her babies had just been taken away from her and she had seen her brother and sister slaughtered right before her eyes. Good old Splash managed to break out of that farm and swim across the river looking for help. Thankfully the woman who found her saved her life by bringing her to Pasado's Safe Haven. She'll be kept here until they can find her a home where she won't be used as a breeding pig or turned into bacon.
One of the other things that I really enjoyed about the Pasado's tour is that they gave us a lot of treats- all plant based meat alternatives like Field Roast grain meat and tofu dogs. Although my husband and I have already adopted a vegan diet, it seemed like some of the people on the tour may still have been omnivores, and I'm sure that getting to know the animals and learning more about their lives must have made an impact towards getting them to reconsider their food choices.
Here's my partner in marriage and animal friendship, Paul Klein, having a special moment with Baby. Baby is an anomaly in the dairy industry: an adult male cow. Just like the male baby chicks, the dairy industry has no need for baby boys and he would normally have been slaughtered by this age. Within his first day of his life Baby was, like all calves, taken away from his mother so that her milk can be taken for the dairy industry. His mother would have mourned the loss of her baby, like any mother. I read a news story last month about some people who lived near a dairy farm who were worried about the 'unearthly cries' that they kept hearing. It turned out that the farmers had just taken away their babies and all the mother cows were calling out for them. The mothers will call out for days, sometimes weeks and become understandably depressed. This, too, is a "standard practice."
There were so many other animals that we met at Pasado's Safe Haven that I haven't mentioned: the llamas, the cats and dogs, the sheep, horses and donkeys. They were all so delightful that I'll need to go back. Since it's now Thanksgiving week as I write this post, I'll sign off with a photo of this lovely turkey couple. What interesting birds they are!
I'd really like to visit Pasado's again soon and would love to volunteer to help out with the animals. For now, I do donate a percentage of my art sales to help support Pasado's but it would be so cool to be able to hang out and spend more time with the animals.
If you are interested in donating (and becoming eligible for a visit too!) please do so online at: http://www.pasadosafehaven.org/