Gridiron warriors help animal sanctuary

Gridiron warriors help animal sanctuary

Oxford Football Coach Bud Rowley raises his arms in triumph after climbing atop a horse at the Pan Equus Animal Sanctuary. Below him are players Lochlan Palmrose (left), a junior, and sophomore Adam Sweet. Photo by Elise Shire.

When most people think about the Oxford High School football squad, they envision the bone-crunching tackles, the exciting passes, the thrilling runs and the celebrations in the end zone.

But what the average fan doesn’t consider is the team’s contributions off the field.

Last week, nearly 100 Wildcat football players paid a visit to the Pan Equus Animal Sanctuary (PEAS), a 75-acre animal sanctuary located at 940 Hummer Lake Rd. in Oxford Twp.

The coaches and student-athletes volunteered their time for an afternoon, cleaning up the sanctuary’s stalls and pastures, washing and painting barns, and grooming animals.

As a nonprofit organization that currently cares for 36 horses, five cows, seven goats, seven chickens, seven dogs, one sheep, a raccoon and a woodchuck, there’s always work to be done around the farm, according to Judy Duncan, co-founder of PEAS.

“This is a big, special treat,” she said. “I couldn’t even believe (it) when I saw how many kids showed up! Some days, it’s just me taking care of this whole farm. It’s just so nice to have some of these other hands to help pick things up. We have kids going (in) all different directions. It’s amazing how fast things get done. I’m floored, to say the least.”

PEAS was founded by Duncan, who was a veterinarian for 21 years before retiring, and her husband Ed Stull. The sanctuary has operated since 1994. In 2014, PEAS officially became a nonprofit organization.

The sanctuary offers a permanent home for abused, neglected and injured animals, allowing them to live out their lives in peace and dignity, according to Duncan.

“Our animals all have a problem,” she explained. “Most of (our animals) have either been abused at one time or mistreated. Some of them are here because they’re retired show horses or a lot of them just have problems that don’t allow them to function normally anymore . . . They’re basically here to just kind of live out their life. We aren’t adopting them out again. If we had horses that we could adopt out, we would, but generally we make this their forever home,” said Duncan.

To learn more about PEAS, volunteer opportunities and making a donation, visit

According to Head Football Coach Bud Rowley, the trip was organized by one of the parents in an effort to give back to the community, which has worked so hard and given so much to support the football program.

“The people in Oxford are good to us,” he said. “They support our football program and they are always good to us when we ask for something . . . We can give an afternoon and help out and the guys are having a great time. It’s a two-way street. It’s a give-and-take and everyone’s enjoying themselves.

Player Sergio Borg, a senior at Oxford High, said he was excited to lend a hand and dedicate his time to helping the various animals in need.

“Hopefully, this will show that not only are people in Oxford supporting us . . . but, we’re giving back to them,” he said. “We want this to be a cycle of helping each other out since we’re all (part of) one community.”

Senior Parker Fleming, who has participated in Oxford’s football program for seven years, said volunteering with PEAS allowed him to get to know his teammates outside of their usual time on the turf.

“We’re repainting the barns and cleaning out the insides and taking care of the animals . . . It’s a good team bonding experience, too . . . All of us here, working together for a good cause instead of just focusing on football,” added Fleming.


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