At Black Forest Animal Sanctuary, miniature horses greet you just inside the gates. In the "misfit pen" you find a variety of rescued critters, like a woolly sheep, goats and an overweight pig named Huey. There are chickens roaming free, ducks neighboring llamas and alpacas, cows rescued from people's backyards, horses and dogs.
"A lot of the sanctuaries and rescues that are here in Colorado are animal-specific," says Melissa Cox, co-director of the sanctuary. "That we know of, we are the only all-animal rescue in the state of Colorado."
The sanctuary works hard to re-home the variety of animals they rescue, from the kid-friendly goat to the retired racehorse. "There are very few [animals] here on the property that are lifers," says Cox. "Most of our animals are from owner surrender or abuse-and-neglect cases. We do take in dogs from high-kill shelters out-of-state that we feel we can place," she adds. Many of those dogs are placed with veterans or families with special needs.
All-animal rescuing proves a noble cause that comes with its own challenges. Often grants are only offered for organizations working with a specific species; feed runs consist of a variety of diets and needs; and veterinary care is diverse. Relationships between the sanctuary and organizations throughout Southern Colorado help offset some of these challenges. PIMA Medical Institute veterinary tech students, for instance, help provide animal care, and the local feed store will call when items are on sale so the sanctuary can save money.
Memorably, Black Forest Animal Sanctuary was instrumental in saving animals during the Black Forest Fire. "We were actually behind the fire lines doing evacuations ... then we evacuated," says Cox, "At the time we had over 500 animals." That number included over 75 cats from a recent rescue operation. During the evacuation the sanctuary was able to temporarily relocate to Castle Rock.
"We are talking close to over 2,000 animals that we somehow touched during the fire. Post-fire our volunteer list has really dwindled," says Cox. Some former volunteers have not moved back to the forest, others are still rebuilding their own properties.
People often ask Cox why the sanctuary helps so many animals. "We bring animals in to give them a purpose and get them into a forever home," she says. "We want to do the best for the animals, the best for the community. We know our limitations, but if we are able to provide them the feed, the water, the shelter, until we find them a forever home, why should we not?"
Give! Campaign funds raised will help with feed and electric bills that skyrocket through the winter, and building projects around the property. You can find out more at bfasfarm.org.