Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary is located in Ravenna, Ohio. Happy Trails is an ambitious operation that takes in abused, neglected and forgotten farm animals and rehabilitates them back to health. The animals brought in have especially tragic stories, but thanks to the hard work of the sanctuary owners and volunteers, these animals are given a second chance at a peaceful, fulfilling life.

Daria, Charleen, and KD decided to make the trip to Happy Trails to meet with the founder, Annette Fisher, when Daria was in Ohio for the Cleveland VegFest, to learn more about what they do.  Let me just tell you now, they do a lot.  A lot.

Happy Trails is home to multiple horses, ponies, pot belly pigs, farm pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep, goats, and bovine. These animals are accepted into the sanctuary through a rescue mission that has very specific, strict criteria. Animals must be rescued by a county humane officer, law enforcer or sheriff, and removed from a situation in which they are being heavily mistreated. Happy Trails acquires the sick or neglected animals through the official, and then rehabilitates them, nurses them back to health, and gives them a permanent home. Animals at the farm can be adopted into a new home, but only on the basis that they will be treated as companion animals and given a forever home. Animals are never given back to their original, neglectful owners to be subjected to further exploitation.

The sanctuary also runs the Happy Trails Amish Horse Retirement Program, where Amish-owned buggy and plow horses may be retired to the sanctuary when they have reached an age or state where their services can no longer be used. The horses must be directly retired by their Amish owner to the program. The sanctuary gives the horse a medical examination, addresses any further medical issues, and continues to give them yearly check-ups and hoof trimmings, among other things. The horse can then be adopted out to a loving home.

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary gives a home to some animals with the harshest of stories, such as Sadie the horse, who was being sold at an auction for only $25 and was found with a ruptured eye. Sadie’s rupture was cared to and now she is in good health at a new forever home after being adopted out of the sanctuary.

Most recently, Happy Trails assisted animal control in rescuing roosters involved in a series of cockfighting raids.

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“Over the past six weeks, Happy Trails has assisted in three separate cockfighting raids from Cuyahoga County and Ashtabula County.  Now the sanctuary is housing nearly 150 cockfighting roosters (and related hens).  Fighting roosters cannot be placed together in a common area because they will indeed fight, so at Happy Trails they are kept in separate cages. This is not a great life for these magnificent birds, and we are reaching out to you to ask for your help with networking. Please spread the word that the next four weeks are being dedicated to finding homes for the rescued roosters. Anyone wanting more information can all the sanctuary at 330-296-5914 or email Annette Fisher directly [email protected].  How can you help? Post this on your Facebook page; forward it in emails to your friends, family and co-workers; collect donations for their care. Thank you for helping find them compassionate, caring homes!”

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Annette was interviewed by Fox8 about the cockfighting ring:

“A lot of the roosters were extremely thin. Some were emaciated,” she said. “They definitely needed to put some groceries on them. Several of them were aggressive, but quite a few of them were very sweet, very easy to handle.”

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Many of the roosters were missing their talons, waddles or combs. Some of their feathers had been shaven off.

Annette and her team of volunteers, including Cindy Dilley, collected 37 roosters to take to the animal farm rescue, Happy Trails, in Ravenna.

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“They said they shaved them because when they would grab each other, they bleed more, so it makes it more of a blood sport and I guess people like it more like that,” Dilley said. “It’s scary that somebody thinks that’s an OK thing to do. It’s almost scarier that somebody would go watch that.”

These roosters are in desperate need of forever homes where they will know only kindness and love, a dramatic difference from what they’ve experienced previously.

The sanctuary also offers tours on the weekends in the summer, giving people a chance to interact with these beautiful animals. Reservations for specifically timed tours must be made by calling (330) 296-5914. Tours cost $20 per person, with attendance by kids under five for free. Happy Trails runs 100% on voluntary contributions from supporters, so they are always in need of donations. They offer sponsorship opportunities for their many residents, so you can look through their website and choose an animal you’d like to support. You can also help by volunteering, which is always rewarding and helpful, and if you have room in your home for another companion, consider adopting from the sanctuary, and giving an animal a loving forever home.

To learn more about Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, located at 5623 New Milford Rd in Ravenna, Ohio, visit happytrailsfarm.org.

Photos from our visit (and tour with the very knowledgeable Ilona) courtesy of Charleen Angle, our resident photographer.

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This post was written by KD Traegner and Allyson Dwyer.