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