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In Spain, sanctuaries give forever homes to rescued farmed animals

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When Elena Tova rescued a sick pig on a whim nearly 15 years ago, she had never heard of the concept of an animal sanctuary. “Sanctuaries didn’t exist in Spain. The word didn’t exist,” she says, explaining she’d only ever heard “santuario” used in a religious context.

Tova found the young pig, whom she later named Benito, at a farm on the outskirts of Madrid she’d been touring as a place to build a shelter for rescued cats and dogs. All of the farm’s pigs had been sent to slaughter the day before, except Benito, because he had an infection and wasn’t fit for human consumption. The owners were about to kill him. Tova convinced them to give the pig to her instead.


She searched for shelters to take Benito in. None existed. “We realized we couldn’t take him anywhere, so this was the beginning of the sanctuary,” Tova says. Fundación El Hogar, founded in 2007, became the first sanctuary for farmed animals in Spain.

Tova continued to rescue cats and dogs, but people also started bringing her roosters and hens, sheep and pigs. Many people who were working with her left, telling her that rescuing livestock was a waste of money. “It wasn’t what they wanted. They wanted to keep rescuing cats and dogs,” she says. “For me, every animal has the right to be rescued.”


Four years later, another sanctuary opened, and then more after that. Now, there are between 30 and 40 sanctuaries throughout Spain, Tova estimates, providing forever homes to abandoned or surrendered farmed animals such as Benito and aided by enthusiastic social media followings.


Grassroots efforts such as Tova’s are changing how people think about how animals bred for human use are treated, says Valerie Taylor, executive director of the U.S.-based Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS), which accredits nonprofit sanctuaries around the world that adhere to ethical practices, including bans on breeding and on the commercial trade of animals.

“There's been a huge shift in animal sheltering altogether, and it’s refreshing to see this being extended to [farmed] species whose suffering is intentionally hidden from public view.”

While changes are happening at the grassroots level, sanctuary owners say they still face structural hurdles. If a truck full of pigs crashes on the way to a slaughterhouse, for example, it’s illegal to rescue the animals without the owner’s permission.

More - National Geographic

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So heartwarming :kara:

I've always wanted to work rescuing animals but the thought of coming across desperate situations where depressing choices have to be made scares me far too much

We're disrespecting each other, whatever happened to protecting each other 💔
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I hope to one day have my own little farm where we rescue animals from slaughter. No need to eat these beautiful creatures ❤️

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13 hours ago, PartySick said:


I've always wanted to work rescuing animals but the thought of coming across desperate situations where depressing choices have to be made scares me far too much

They also mentioned something among these lines in the article.



For every animal rescued, there are thousands who die alone. “Those things live with you and haunt you,” says Geer, who has struggled with insomnia, guilt, and depression. But over time, she says she’s become better at managing these feelings. “It doesn’t mean I’m not grieving when animals die, but it’s definitely evolved. It has to, to keep doing this without getting completely burnt out.”

“People in sanctuaries are very strong but also very sensitive,” says Tova. “There are lots of ups and downs and in the long run, after many years, not everybody can take it.” She and other sanctuary owners say that it’s the animals at the sanctuary—whom they all refer to as their family—that give them strength.


We as ordinary people can't fully comprehend what is like and how traumatic it can be to work as a rescuer. :( I respect rescuers so much, because I personally wouldn't have the ability to handle it. You really have to strong emotionally and psychologically and ego-less. 

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