- 1 of 4 Photos | View More Photos
If you are up for the drive, set your GPS north east of the Amish Heartland and check out an animal sanctuary that is dedicated to rehabilitating abused, neglected or abandoned farm animals. It all started with a dream of Annette Fishers, executive director, to have a horse of her own. She had no idea her love for animals would get her more than just one horse.
Fisher had watched and cared for a neighbor's horses (on the property that is now Happy Trails) and discovered the family had a crippled pig, Janice, on their farm. Instead of being paid for her "babysitting" services, Fisher asked if she could have the pig.
To her surprise, the family allowed her to take the pig and Fisher helped Janice to live out her life in the best way possible. Fisher and her husband soon obtained the 10-acre farm and quickly setout to care for as many farm animals as they could. Today you will find barns full of happy pigs, chickens, cows, horses and much more as they continue on the road to recovery.
Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, Inc. is a non-profit (501c3) organization that rescues and rehabilitates farm animals such as: horses, ponies, pot belly pigs, farm pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, goats, and cattle. Law officials must remove animals brought to Happy Trails from a situation of abuse, neglect or abandonment, and cruelty charges must be filed against those responsible for the crime.
Happy Trails takes in these animals and provides them with the proper medical care, proper nutrition, clean and safe housing and as much "TLC" as possible. An adoption program allows for rescued farm animals to be adopted to families as pets to live out the rest of their lives. (An application process is required as well as an on-site visit to the animals future home to be sure the adopted animal will receive proper care.)
"We rescue animals from anywhere in the state of Ohio," said Hope Evans, Marketing and Special Promotions for Happy Trails. "We have even rescued animals from as far away as New York and California."
An adoption program has even been set-up for retired Amish work horses. There comes a time in an Amish horses life when he or she simply becomes to old to perform their duties on the farm or pull a buggy full of Amish familiy members. Happy Trails is happy to work with Amish farmers in taking in these horses and giving them a place to live out the rest of their years. This makes it easier on the Amish farmer who may have had to take his horse to auction or try and find a way to re-home the horse.
From May through October, guests can tour Happy Trails and learn about each of the animals that have come to live at Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary. Educational tours run Friday through Saturday with four available tour time slots per day. Each tour includes up to six people and one tour guide, who takes time to share the stories of how each animal came to live at Happy Trails.
It's your opportunity to get up-close and personal with the animals; scratch the nose of a curious sheep, rub the belly of a grateful pig and most importantly, learn how you could make a difference in the lives of an animal. Admission: $20 for adults, $10 for youth ages 17 and under, kids under age five are free.
An Education center was built next to the property where Fisher and her staff utilize animal care experts to teach the general public about the importance of animal care and safety practices. The education center is a great opportunity for those raising animals or thinking about adopting a new friend to learn more about proper care and handling of farm animals. Classes start at 7 p.m. and cost $7 per person (pre-registration required). Arriving early (6 p.m.) will get class participants an opportunity to tour the farm facilities. Visit the website for more information on classes and how to register.
Happy Trails relies on the donations of supporters and funding from visitors to the sanctuary. Evans said, the local community was very supportive in pitching in to rebuild a barn after one of their goat barns caught fire. Happy Trails occasionally receives grants for specific projects on the farm.
Some people enjoy donating feed to help out the animals. When visiting Happy Trails' website, visit the "Wish List" section and learn what types of healthy snacks and food that the animals enjoy. Donators can purchase a bag of grain by calling or visiting one of the local stores Happy Trails partners with: Pettigrew Feed and Hardware, 330-325-1500, located at 6785 Tallmadge Road (Rt. 14), Edinburg, Ohio; or Western Reserve Farm Co-Op, 330-296-3424, located at 467 Cleveland Road, Ravenna, Ohio.
Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary is located at 5623 New Milford Road, Ravenna, Ohio. Visit the website, www.happytrailsfarm.org, to learn more about the sanctuary, education center and tours or call 330-296-5914.