Frequently Asked Questions

What is your vegan policy?

As a vegan sanctuary, Peace Ridge Sanctuary does not support or participate in the commodification of animals, including the consumption and/or sale of animal products – flesh, milk, eggs, honey, skin, fur, wool, etc. or use products tested on animals at our sanctuary. While we are greatly appreciative of people who want to donate physical goods for our direct use at the sanctuary or for benefit auctions we do not accept donations of animal products, products tested on animals, or activities/events that involve animal exploitation. Out of respect for our animal residents and mission, we do not allow visitors to bring/consume non-vegan food items on sanctuary property. This policy extends to staff and volunteers as well.  If you have any questions or need further clarification, please email info@peaceridgesanctuary.org

Interested in starting a sanctuary?

It is very exciting that you are considering more ways that you can directly help farmed animals – they are among the most exploited beings on our planet and there aren’t nearly enough people actively helping them. Living a vegan lifestyle and educating others about the plight of farmed animals are essential steps for anyone who wants to help farmed animals. For those with the space, resources, and knowledge, offering sanctuary to survivors of animal agriculture can be a powerful way to have an even greater positive impact.

Speaking from our personal experience doing this work for nearly two decades, the work that we do here can be incredibly challenging, both physically and emotionally, but also very rewarding. Farmed animal sanctuaries serve as a model showing people an alternative way of interacting with farmed animals and provide individualized care (including a level of veterinary care that is typically reserved for companion animals like dogs and cats) in a clean, safe, respectful environment.

If you haven’t already, we recommend volunteering, interning, or working at a sanctuary that specializes in the species whom you hope to offer a home. There is nothing like getting hands-on experience to get a better understanding of farmed animal care as well as the myriad components of establishing, funding, and maintaining a successful sanctuary. Here at Peace Ridge Sanctuary, we have many opportunities for gaining valuable experience working with farmed animals. Those with experience (volunteer or paid) with farmed animals are our first choices when we are able to hire additional animal caregivers. For current opportunities please see: http://www.peaceridgesanctuary.org/get-involved/jobs-and-internships/

* We strongly encourage individuals who want to start a sanctuary to have at least 12 months of major experience interning or working in a well established, well organized sanctuary environment.

Someday we hope to be able to develop online resources to share our vast knowledge about sanctuary-based farmed animal care. In the meantime, Farm Sanctuary maintains a website that has helpful information for people interested in learning more about starting sanctuaries as well as basic care guidelines for farmed animals.

https://www.farmsanctuary.org/the-sanctuaries/farm-animal-care/

Can I come for a tour?

Yes, we would love to have you visit! There are a few ways to come see us…

  • Private tour by appointment only
  • Open houses
  • Youth and school group tours

For information on each of these options, go to our Visit Us page.

What is a sanctuary?

Here at Peace Ridge we are often asked the question “What makes a sanctuary?” It’s a topic that we know a whole lot about, and we see the increasing need to define “sanctuary” to the public around us, particularly those animal folks who wish to best support animals. The following is an excerpt from a paper that Daniella Tessier, our founder, wrote in an attempt to address the growing need for public education around this issue:

“In Maine, as in many states, there are a growing number of ‘rescues’ and ‘sanctuaries’ popping up. All too often times we see that those individuals who say they offer sanctuary are actually hoarders or people who may have had good intentions, but do not have their systems in place to do the job that they say they do.

So what do you do BEFORE supporting a ‘sanctuary’? Schedule a visit. If you want to support a public non-profit, there should be little reason that you can’t visit. Yes, we sanctuary caretakers have our own schedules too – but if a non-profit is asking for your support, they should be happy to have you on their premises. If you do visit a ‘sanctuary’, don’t be afraid to ask critical questions. And if something sounds strange, it probably is. Lastly, don’t rely on mailings, websites, social media or any other venue for advertisement as your source of verification- unless you have been to the sanctuary, or know someone who has, you should be very careful where you lend your support.

When you arrive for your visit, look around with a discerning eye. Is the environment clean? At a sanctuary, the FIRST priority should always be cleanliness. If the facility- barns and pastures included, are not clean YOU ARE NOT VISITING A SANCTUARY! Anyone can feed and water animals. But cleanliness provides for a disease free, dignified living environment – and it is ESSENTIAL to the health and well-being of the animals. There is no excuse for animals to be walking in and eating out of their own excrement on any farm, most especially on a farm sanctuary. If that is the case, put your support elsewhere, and you may even want to call the authorities. I mention this last point in particular- because there are quite a few “sanctuaries” here in Maine and abroad where the conditions are shockingly filthy, and the care of the animals is extremely neglected, but they still manage to pull in public support.

Next, you may ask yourself – ‘do the animals have enough space and what they need to live naturally?’ If the sanctuary has large animals on site, you want to see pastures for the animals to graze. At a sanctuary, the natural predisposition of the animal should be of primary concern. If a cow or horse has no grazing opportunities, it is not living a natural, healthy life. Anyone can have an animal in their back yard, but if the animal cannot live according to its biological and psychological needs – you are NOT at a sanctuary.

As the director of a small farm animal sanctuary for over ten years, I’ve met people on both sides of this discussion. I have seen many people who are eager to support animal organizations get duped, while there are other legitimate animal organizations who need public support to continue doing their good work. All we suggest is – before you jump on the sanctuary bandwagon, find out first hand who you’re supporting!”

For more information on this topic, visit Farm Sanctuary’s website Establishing a Sanctuary.

What is veganism?

Veganism is much more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It is a guiding principle behind how we make our choices. Veganism is a way of life in which animal products, and the use of animals in industry and otherwise, are avoided in the consciousness that animal suffering of any kind should not be supported. We, as vegans, would go so far to say that it is an active non-political effort to create a more inclusive social justice paradigm.

Veganism, at its core, is about minimizing suffering and reducing our environmental impact, because all of us, animals included, need this planet to be healthy in order to survive. Some vegans apply their concern for the environment when using their purchasing power. If you say you are vegan, at the very least, you should not use or buy products where animal products have been used in production.

Being vegan is not difficult, despite what some people may say. If you are just starting out, there are many vegan companies out there to choose replacement or transitional products from, such as faux meats and cheeses. You’ll have no problem eating similarly to how you did before, and you will support a more fair and healthful way of life. If you are a person who grows much of your own food, as you may already know, you can grow almost anything you need yourself. Beans of many varieties can be fun to grow and dry if you have the space.

Don’t be fooled by those who define a locavore diet as being non-vegan. Being a vegan locavore is more than possible, as we all know at Peace Ridge Sanctuary. There are a few exceptions to the locavore diet though, like rice, which is not grown locally in the Northeast. Here in Maine, many folks are jumping on the “kill it yourself” or “buy killed locally” bandwagon, which the locavore movement has touted as being necessary. Unfortunately, it seems this is more a consequence of the newly popularized and somewhat narrow-minded version of living back to the land, or homesteading. The consumption of animal protein is not only unnecessary for all of us (as documented in thousands of well researched medical investigations), but it is also unarguably linked to an array of medical conditions. We won’t even go into it here, because all you have to do is Google the topic and you’ll find literally thousands of research-based examples to back this up.

There is a lot of information out there for people who want to “go vegan,” and a great educational website about the nitty-gritty of doing so is Vegan Outreach.

So stop thinking about it and just go vegan! It will have a much more positive effect on your health and the health of the world around you than any other change you could make.

Is it ok to purchase an animal in order to save him/her?

We are opposed to “rescue” by purchase. Here’s why…

We know first-hand how hard it is to see an animal suffering in our community, as well as the deep need to figure out how we, as individuals, can help alleviate this suffering. That is what motivated and inspired all of us at Peace Ridge Sanctuary to be part of the farmed animal sanctuary movement. As PRS has grown, we now get contacted nearly every day (and sometimes multiple times a day) about animals in need and are constantly being reminded of how vital our community-based work is. We are bombarded with grisly stories and photos of rampant animal abuse and pleas from people who are no longer able or willing to provide animals with the care they need and deserve. One of the most heartbreaking aspects of our work, beyond seeing how horribly animals are treated, is having to turn away animals because the need is so great.

Like other reputable sanctuaries, we do not support rescue by purchase. By paying into the industry, we would become customers, not rescuers. Unfortunately, while the sanctuary movement has grown, we have started to see new sanctuaries who take a different approach and not only purchase animals themselves, but also often solicit money in campaigns to help fund these adrenaline-fueled rescues. Often these animals at the center of these rescue campaigns are considered spent and are essentially worthless to the farmer but by playing on the emotions of compassionate people, the farmers see an opportunity to make money and sometimes even charges inflated prices. That being said, every single dollar purposely given back to farmers, even at or below market value, feeds the system. When you purchase an animal, you are giving the farmer money to buy her/his replacement(s) and therefore are condemning other animals to immense suffering and an early death. Purchasing animals exacerbates the problem, not alleviates it, no matter how good the intentions are.

Our sanctuary is filled with animals who have been rescued by the Maine Animal Welfare Program from cases of horrible cruelty and neglect. We have over 250 animals at PRS, and we have never have, or will, purchase animals. This policy extends to not taking in animals that others have solicited funds to buy. The need for rescue far outweighs the available space in our sanctuary, or any of the other sanctuaries around the country, which makes sense when you realize there are over ten billion farmed animals abused and killed each year in the U.S. alone. No matter how many animals can find homes at sanctuaries, sadly the number that can be saved will never be more than a drop in the bucket. Therefore, we need to think and act carefully. We are working strategically for systematic change and that doesn’t include paying into exploitative systems that we desperately want to see dismantled.

We provide rehabilitation and a life-long home to farmed animals, always stretching to do as much as we can and help as many animals as possible. At the same time, we are working to promote comprehensive humane education. Education allows us to significantly expand our impact by encouraging people to make more compassionate choices and go vegan, removing themselves from these oppressive systems altogether. Animal agriculture follows the natural laws of supply and demand – if the number of consumers and customers (even those who purchase in the name of “rescue”) of animal agriculture decrease, the number of animals confined, abused, and killed will also decrease, and that is how we begin to see the change we all want to see. If you want to directly help farmed animal victims, find a reputable sanctuary who you trust and help support the expensive, life-long care and rehabilitation of animals who have been rescued as well as humane education efforts to help ensure that less animals will need to be rescued in the first place.

What are your companion animal adoption policies?

To be sure our rescued animals are safe and happy in their new home, we have strict policies in place. Please visit our Adoption Process page for more info.

Why is it harmful to feed bread to ducks, geese, and other birds?

Did you know that bread is actually very harmful to ducks, geese and other wild animals? Bread quickly expands and fills up the stomachs of waterfowl/wild animals causing them to feel full. Because they feel full they no longer forage for the foods their bodies actually need causing them to become extremely nutrient deficient. Many of our geese and ducks often come in with a condition referred to as “Angel Wings.” Due to nutrient deficiencies the last joint of the wing is twisted with the wing feathers pointing out laterally, instead of lying against the body. It leaves them unable to fly and get away from predators. Unfortunately this is not a condition that can be fixed once the bones harden. While it is best to leave wild animals/water fowl to forage for their own food, if you are going to give them a treat stick to items like corn, oats, peas, or chopped lettuces and greens. Just make sure you leave the bag of bread and leftovers at home.

My rooster is aggressive, can you take him?

It’s better to understand your “problem” roosters, instead of rehoming them:

Spring is the time when we see a huge increase in people trying to get rid of, or abandoning their roosters like Victor here. As the season changes and the sun stays out longer, the extra daylight changes their internal clock. This causes their hormones to go into overdrive which often leads to what people consider undesirable behaviors. Roosters are very misunderstood animals. They are usually put with hens to protect them, but we get upset when the rooster protects them from us. Let’s try to think like a rooster for a minute though…His job is to protect the hens, keep them happy, and make babies. If your only interaction with your rooster each day is to go in and take the eggs and upset his ladies, the rooster is only seeing our interactions in a negative way. It’s important that your rooster sees you as a resource to him and his hens. When you begin to see undesirable behaviors from your rooster, here are some tips.

  1. Never run from your rooster. This is the worst thing you can do. It’s important you stand your ground.
  2. When your rooster is showing undesirable behaviors, pick him up and hold him. Carry him around with you. Maybe even cuddle, just don’t hold him too close to your face until you are in a good place!
  3. Bring him treats and always reward him for good, calm behavior. Just like anyone else, positive reinforcement for good behavior helps!
  4. Spend time with your chickens beyond just taking what you want from them. Let him see you are there to love and care for his ladies with him, not just upset them. Remind him that you are a resource, not a threat.
  5. When you get frustrated, remember he is doing his job and would lay down his life for any one of his ladies because he loves them as much as you do. Roosters can be invaluable to your chicken family, and once you begin to respect and understand each other, they can be your best friend and very sweet. Don’t give up!