Abused farm animals find love at local sanctuary

by Wendy Turrell

When husband and wife Erik Wells and Anne Spahr bought their three-acre property with a barn on Granger Road, they knew they wanted to have a few farm animals someday. It wasn’t until seven years ago, when Happy Trails Farm Sanctuary asked them to take in two sheep from a hoarding situation, that they found their avocation. It was then that Sparwell Farm animal sanctuary was born, its name inspired by a combination of the couple’s surnames.

The original sheep, Valerie and Roscoe, have been joined by one more sheep, a rooster named Cornelius, a feisty white goat called Lilly, and Violet, a black Nubian goat. Violet has Chronic Viral Arthritis, which does not cross species borders, but it means that only other goats with that virus can be housed on the property.

Spahr said Violet is “very sweet,” but Lilly is a bit of a handful. Lilly follows Spahr in the field and head-butts her if she isn’t vigilant. Spahr laughed as she explained that Lilly really only likes her husband, and she has the bruises to prove it.

A cat named Will Feral, a feline donation from the couple’s veterinarian, rounds out the family menagerie. Although “the mayor,” as Spahr also refers to him, was brought to the vet to be euthanized for a broken leg and an FIV infection, he has thrived on the farm.

Their current animals are not available for adoption because, “We’ve gotten so attached to them,” Spahr admitted. In the future she hopes to be able to offer carefully vetted adoptions for rehabilitated animals.

Because of the limited acreage, the farm cannot shelter horses or cattle. Spahr and Wells take in only smaller animals like sheep, goats, alpacas and donkeys. Spahr said they have room for just five more animals to graze in the pasture, but their large barn is being rehabilitated with stalls to accommodate animals that need temporary shelter.

“We would like to assist with emergency shelter after humane officers complete a rescue and need immediate placement,” she said.

Spahr and Wells work in public service jobs with staggered schedules, so between them, they offer constant coverage of the animals. Their work also brings them into contact with humane officers, whose work is to investigate animal abuse cases.

In addition to her connections with Happy Trials Farm Sanctuary in Ravenna and Focus Rescue and Rehabilitation in Mogadore, Spahr wants to cultivate relationships with humane officers and the Humane Society to find more farm animals in need.

All the animals receive necessary veterinary attention, which includes medications for those with chronic conditions, and regular maintenance like shearing for the sheep, and hoof trimming. All this care is vital, but expensive.

Spahr suggested that anyone who suspects abuse or neglect of animals should call their local law enforcement agency or humane officer. Someday Spahr and Wells hope to train volunteers to relieve some of the pressure of the 24/7 care they provide now.

Sparwell Farm is a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status. For more information about the farm, its animals, and how to make donations, visit Sparwell Farm’s Facebook page. ∞