The new falcon herald logo.
Feature Articles

A sanctuary for the four-legged kind

When a visitor arrives at the Black Forest Animal Sanctuary, Bailey, a yellow Labrador retriever, eagerly runs out the front door to greet the newcomer. Skippy, a black and white sheep dog, follows and lays a stick in front of the visitor, anxiously awaiting a game of fetch. Bailey and Skippy are among more than 70 animals – horses, donkeys, goats, cats, chickens, ducks, geese, llamas and a pig – inhabiting the sanctuary/farm.Many of the animals have been abused or neglected. “About half the animals come in distressed and in bad shape,” said Lisa Hernandez, a member of the board of directors. “Many are starved.”Tracy and Scott Van Pelt own the farm. Tracy Van Pelt began rescuing animals when she went undercover for PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) Rescue, a resource for placing retired PMU horses in adoptive homes. PMU Rescue is a project of United Animal Nations, a national animal advocacy, rescue and educational organization.Since the 1940s, pregnant mare urine has been used in hormone replacement therapy drugs, such as Premarine.According to the PMU Web site (, “Premarin was the most popular drug in the United States, with an estimated 22 million women taking the drug to treat menopausal symptoms in 2002. Because Premarin is made with estrogens extracted from pregnant mares’ urine, thousands of mares are used to produce this bitter pill, contributing to the unnecessary over breeding of horses.”For approximately six months from fall through spring, the pregnant mares live in the ‘pee barns,’ forced to stand in stalls with urine-collection devices strapped to them. The stalls are deliberately narrow to prevent pregnant mares from turning around and detaching the collection cups. In the last month of their 11-month pregnancy, the mares are put out to pasture to have their foals. The mares are put in a herd with a stallion, so they quickly become pregnant again. In September, their foals are taken away from them to be sold, whether or not they are fully weaned. The next month, they’re back in the barns and the cycle starts again.””We desperately need vets and farriers to donate time,” Hernandez said. “We also need grant writers, horse trainers experienced working with green broke horses and anyone who wants to clean, brush and groom animals.”The cost of tending to the horses and all the animals is huge, and the sanctuary is always looking for donations and volunteers.She said the economy has forced many people to drop off animals they can no longer care for, which increases the numbers and the needs at the sanctuary.”If you don’t have money, give your time,” Hernandez said. “Time, talent and treasure, as I always say.”You can clean kennels or just come to give the animals some love. Kids are very welcome, but anyone under 16 needs to have an adult along.”Many of the animals are adopted but for those awaiting a new home, Hernandez said the sanctuary relies on sponsors to help with the costs of an individual animal. If someone isn’t able to adopt an animal, he or she can always sponsor one, she said.Currently, a litter of 6-week-old black Labrador/German Shepherd mix puppies are ready to be adopted. The $175 adoption fee covers shots, a microchip and spay or neuter costs.The sanctuary has an ongoing fundraiser, selling pallets for $4 each. A silent auction is in the planning stages.For more information, visit, send an e-mail to or call 494-0158. Visits are by appointment only.

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Search Businesses

Search Businesses