A modern-day Noah’s Ark is seeking the public’s help to keep all of its creatures well-fed throughout the year.
The Pan Equus Animal Sanctuary (PEAS), located at 940 Hummer Lake Rd. in Oxford Township, will host its fourth annual fall fund-raiser on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity to connect with animals that have had a rough go (of it) in life,” said Ed Stull, who co-founded the nonprofit animal sanctuary with his wife Judy Duncan, a veterinarian who practiced for 21 years before retiring
The fund-raiser will include hay rides, opportunities to pet and feed animals, a bake sale, pinata, food and beverages, silent auction, face painting and educational exhibits.
Admission is $5 per person. There’s no charge for kids age 5 and under.
The goal is to raise enough money to purchase 8,000 bales of hay to feed PEAS’ growing animal population.
Currently, the 75-acre farm is home to 37 horses, 20 cows, 15 sheep, 13 goats, nine cats, seven dogs, four pigs, three donkeys, two ducks, a rooster and a peacock.
“We definitely have more animals than we did last year,” Stull said.
PEAS is in the process of building a 7,680-square-foot barn to complement its existing two barns, each of which is 7,200 square feet.
“We’re actually overcapacity, so this (new) barn is going to bring us back in line,” Stull said.
Operating since 1994, PEAS’ primary focus is taking in animals that have been abused, neglected or abandoned, suffer from health issues or are simply getting old.
“Every animal that’s at the sanctuary has a story,” Stull said.
PEAS is the last hope for these creatures. Every animal there has one thing in common – if PEAS hadn’t opened its barn doors to them, they would have been either put down or sent to slaughter.
At PEAS, all the animals are given the opportunity to live out the rest of their lives in peace and be who they are. None of them are expected to be ridden, pull a wagon or carriage, or somehow entertain people. They spend their days wandering the spacious pasture, eating, playing and doing whatever else comes naturally to them.
When people come to the fund-raiser, Stull said “they’ll see how happy and grateful the animals are.”
“It’s a feel-good experience,” he said.
PEAS needs 8,000 bales of hay – more than it ever has before – for a variety of reasons. Stull explained it used to be the majority of the hay supply was consumed between November and May 1. During the warmer months, most of the animals literally lived off the land via grazing
Now, many of the animals are being fed hay year-round.
Some of them get hay because of special dietary needs or because physical disabilities prevent them from being able to “graze around the clock like a lot of animals do,” according to Stull.
For example, PEAS has a blind horse and two heifers, named Beauty and Ellie, with genetic deformities in their front legs that cause them to walk on their elbows.
“(They) can only put their rear hooves flat on the ground,” Stull said.
The other reason more hay is being used is simple math – more animals plus the same amount of grazing land equals less food to go around.
“They eat it down quicker,” Stull said.
Stull loves the fall fund-raiser because it’s PEAS’ big chance to give the public a glimpse of what goes on there. “This is the one time of year when we can open the place up,” he said.
Normally, PEAS’ volunteers are so busy caring for the animals on a daily basis that Stull said there’s simply no time to show people around the farm.
“Being able to share the place, that’s just the best part (of the fall fund-raiser) because I have to say ‘no’ (to tour requests) four out of five times during the year because we just don’t have (enough) people to manage it,” he said. “I would like to change that someday.”
In addition to hay, PEAS is in need of more volunteers to feed the animals, clean their stalls, brush them, help maintain the organization’s online presence and work on fund-raising activities.
“There’s a place for pretty much anybody depending on what you’re comfortable with, what your skill set is and what you’re interested in doing,” Stull said. “Not everybody has to go out in a barn and clean stalls.”
Even if someone doesn’t want to volunteer with PEAS, Stull hopes attending the fall fund-raiser will spark a desire in them to help others, whether it’s volunteering at a senior center or mentoring young people.
“We’re passionate about what we do,” he said. “Maybe (seeing that) will motivate them to get involved in something they’re passionate about.”