A family in the Annapolis Valley is turning their land into a sanctuary for farm animals needing a new home. The Lailo Farm Sanctuary is being developed on almost 30 acres in Canaan, Kings County, by Jen Lussing and her family.
“I have been interested in animals all my life and really passionate about them,” Lussing said in a recent interview.
Lussing has worked in many animal-related jobs, has a degree in biology and completed two years of vet school in New Zealand. She has been helping animals since she was a child and became more seriously involved in animal rescue while she and her husband, Will Cooper, were teaching English in rural South Korea, where they rescued and rehomed many dogs.
After returning to Canada last year to be closer to family and friends, the couple knew they wanted to turn their new property into a sanctuary eventually. However, the need quickly became apparent, and they began taking in animals sooner than expected.
“There aren’t many places willing to take in farm animals when they need help,” she said.
The mission of Lailo Farm is to provide sanctuary to farm animals in need, and also to encourage others to extend their circle of compassion to include all species of animals.
The name comes from the idea that loving animals is loving ourselves because all species are interconnected.
“Most of us think farm animals are food and their value lies in what they provide for us in terms of food or clothing. I don’t see animals like that at all. I see them as individuals. Each animal is a unique being that is sentient and has desires and dislikes and its own personality,” Lussing said.
“I see farm animals as individuals that are worthy of the same kind of compassion you would give to a pet dog or cat. To me, the only difference is that we have used these animals so long and kept them for our purposes and we don't really see them as individuals anymore.”
Lussing said she appreciates the help of volunteers and she is hoping more people will volunteer their time to care for the daily needs of the guinea fowl, roosters, turkeys, goats, a pony, pig and lamb living at Lailo Farm now. She also hopes they will help develop the facilities needed to care for more animals in the future.
Alisha Christie of Wolfville has enjoyed volunteering at the sanctuary and getting to know the animals’ personalities.
“These animals deserve a second chance because they were all going to be sentenced to death or just die. And it's crazy the beautiful personalities they all have that would have left this world if the farm wasn't there,” Christie said.
“I think a lot of purpose around the sanctuary is recognizing they are beings as much as humans are and just giving them a chance to live and just be a pig, be a horse or be a goat. To have a chance to just be, instead of being in pain their whole life.”
Natalie Weekes, also of Wolfville, feels Lailo Farm promotes a sense of interconnectedness with nature.
“Any way to reconnect with nature and connect with other species can only be seen as a good thing because we can’t extend compassion to one another if we can’t extend compassion to the world around us.”
Volunteer Paul Wegleitner agrees.
“At the sanctuary, these animals are going to live a life that is actually worth living.”
More information on how to support Lailo Farm Sanctuary financially or with your time as a volunteer is available at https://www.lailofarmsanctuary.org.