Animal sanctuary rescues farm animals

Blackbird Ranch gives farm animals who come from unsafe situations a better quality of life.

March 3, 2020

For the past three years, Blackbird Ranch Sanctuary has rescued farm animals from around the world from neglect, abuse and slaughter.

“We provide [the animals with] a soft landing here at Blackbird,” owner Jenna Ramsey said. “We give them a place where they can thrive. They don’t have to live in fear anymore.”

Ramsey and her husband Allan Pessier founded Blackbird Sanctuary from their home when they first moved to the area, she said.

“One of the reasons I got into farm animals in particular is because there’s nobody doing farm animal rescue in this area,” Ramsey said.

The Sanctuary rescues multiple species, such as donkeys, sheep, ducks and a few lizards, to name a few, she said.

“Farm animals tend to be used historically for production purposes, like for food sources, so people don’t really think of them needing rescue … but they do,” Ramsey said. “They’re just as sentient as a dog or a cat or any other animal people think of when they think of the animals that they love.”

Blackbird Sanctuary also provides an education component to WSU students through its internship program, she said.

“What makes us special so that we stand out from other rescues is that we focus a lot on education,” Ramsey said. “They’re learning how to take care of the animals [and] how to treat animals with compassion.”

The interns follow a regular schedule, said Junior Intern Avery Lane. This involves cleaning up after animals and performing a brief health checkup, which takes about three hours.

“I just really wanted to work there because I wanted to give back to the community,” Lane said. “It’s such a good way to start my day.”

Two of the goats at Blackbird Sanctuary came to the ranch last year from an animal hoarding situation, Ramsey said.

“There were dead animals left all over the property, and these two goats were skinny and didn’t trust anybody,” she said. “Now, they’re like puppy dogs. They love people and they’re doing so well.”

Many of the roosters came from illegal cockfighting rings, Lane said. This makes socialization of the animals more difficult, but important nonetheless.

“There’s a lot of socialization that needs to happen,” she said. “You don’t want the animal to be by itself for the remainder of its life.”

This also teaches the animals to trust people, which makes it easier for Ramsey, along with Lane and the other interns to care for the animals, Ramsey said.

One of the ways that animals at the ranch become socialized is through cuddle therapy, she said.

“We provided them [with] lifelong sanctuary here, and they basically don’t have anything left to worry about,” Ramsey said.

Some of the cows were rescued when their previous owner, who once raised them for slaughter, decided to keep them instead, Lane said.

“Those cows, they totally would have been hamburgers by now,” Ramsey said. “A cow that would normally live six or eight months now gets to live twenty years at our place. You don’t see that very often with farm animals.”

The owner originally kept all of them on his own property but found the upkeep too difficult.

“He bought back all the animals that he was selling to the slaughterhouses,” she said. “Blackbird Ranch ended up with three of them, so it was cool to see that they were rescued before they went to the slaughterhouse.”

Avery Lane, animal science and pre-veterinary major, discusses how and why she became an intern for the Blackbird Ranch Sanctuary this semester last Wednesday afternoon in the SPARK.

One of the pigs at Blackbird Sanctuary, Mile (pronounced MEE-lay), was rescued from Hurricane Maria after it hit Puerto Rico last year, Ramsey said.

“Everyone’s really interested when we tell them that story,” she said. “How often does a pig get on a plane from Puerto Rico and make it to Pullman?”

Blackbird Sanctuary has hosted groups of volunteers, such as preschool classes, Ramsey said.

“The more people the animals get to meet, the better they’re socialized,” she said.

Currently, Blackbird Sanctuary is not open to the public at regular weekly hours, she said. However, anyone who wants to schedule a visit may do so by sending a sending a Facebook message to the Blackbird Ranch Farm Sanctuary page.

“It’s a nonprofit organization, so donations are always appreciated, but [Ramsey] doesn’t ask anything like that from visitors,” Lane said. Blackbird Sanctuary is located at 7752 Parvin Road in Colfax.

About the Contributors
RACHEL KOCH, Evergreen reporter

Rachel Koch is a junior marketing major from Ridgefield, Washington. She enjoys watching old black-and-white horror movies in her free time.

CAROLYNN CLAREY, Evergreen reporter and photojournalist

Carolynn Clarey is a freshman majoring in Architecture studies. In her spare time, she takes commissions for painting.

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