Lifestyle

Disabled animals help kids with special needs heal as they form unbreakable bonds

Animals sanctuary is showing vulnerable young people the magic of forgiveness and hope

In what can only be described as magical, a farm is on a mission to help hard-to-reach children connect with the world by encouraging them to form friendships with disabled animals.

The Safe in Austin animal sanctuary rescues vulnerable wildlife, encouraging them to play with equally vulnerable kids so they create special bonds that nurture healing and wellbeing.

Based in Texas, USA, the project kickstarted in 2014, when founder Jamie Wallace-Griner bought an old broken down, overgrown ranch to save animals from severe abuse or neglect and help rehabilitate and re-house them with a loving, forever home. 

Once the animals are healthy enough, they are then introduced to children that come from similar backgrounds of abuse, neglect, and/or special needs whereby the friendships form a valuable example of what relationships should look like.

Jamie decided to embark on her adventure after discovering just how much her son’s autism service dog Angel enhanced family life.

Speaking about her experiences in a testimonial on the Safe in Austin website, Jamie said: “We have always loved animals, but when Angel joined our family it became insanely clear how the love of an animal can be literally, miraculous.

“Angel gave my son confidence and strength beyond anything I was capable of doing as his mother. She provided protection from his fears, understanding of his thoughts, and power over his disabilities.”

Jamie continued: “We will never be able to repay her for helping shape my baby into the high-functioning boy he is today, but we are going to try… one life at a time.”

As well as special needs children, the farm aims to reach high-risk youth by showing them the trauma their animals have experienced in the past and how they evolved to now have hope; this allows the young people to see forgiveness and connection that they may have never felt before and slowly begin to see life from different perspectives.

The sanctuary prides itself on being a no-judgment zone, where people from all walks of life are welcomed for a fun, worry-free experience that is guaranteed to touch your heart.

In particular, they are proud to introduce their 250lbs potbelly pig Peter, who was once thrown away and left for dead. Then there’s Sapphire, who was forced to breed with a goat three times her size consequently leading to a traumatic birth of oversized triplets.

There is also Duchess, rescued from a dog fighting ring where she was used as a breeder dog. She was bred over and over again in a cage smaller than her, hidden under tarpaulin. She is now mamma to anything she is around and tries really hard to nurse all different kinds of puppies, kittens, ducklings, chicks, bunnies, and even a tortoise!

Chatting to The Washington Post, Jamie said: “Over the years, as the ranch has been rehabbed, the population has grown to include chickens, pigs, and goats, many of whom have special needs.

“We have animals that are blind or deaf, have diabetes, cerebral palsy, deformities, missing limbs, broken spines… they all become part of our family.”

And a family, indeed, it is as the farm boasts 32 goats, 20 dogs, 18 pigs, 14 cats, eight horses, four cows, four rabbits, four turkeys, three tortoises, one parrot, and chickens aplenty.

We feel inspired to adopt a pet mascot for the Uspire team now?!

For more information, click here: Safe in Austin.

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