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Baa-tter days ahead: B.C. farm gives second chances to farmyard friends

From bonded goats and water buffaloes to cows and quails, this farm is taking care of abused, injured or neglected animals.

A farm in Surrey provides care to rescued animals that have been abused, injured or neglected from all over the Lower Mainland.

BC SPCA’s Good Shepherd Barn is a sprawling facility that does not look like a typical animal shelter. 

Layla Gilhooly is the centre manager and explains how staff spend their lunch breaks with the animals. 

“It’s so serene. It’s lovely to have the farm animals,” she says. “It’s just a lovely place to be."

Farm animals come to the barn after they don’t receive the care they need. 

“They do need a lot of specific care,” she says. “Sometimes people don't realize that when they adopt or get hold of these animals.”

Many of them stay months at the facility. 

“For the farm animals, it is a longer adoption process,” she says. “Just finding the adopters can take longer than with other companion animals like cats and dogs, because there aren't so many possible adopters out there with the space for them and the knowledge for them.”

The Good Shepherd Barn is squeaky clean and looks brand new due to staff diligently cleaning each stall after an animal leaves to prepare for the next one. 

“We have goats at the moment. They've been in care for about five to six months now,” says Gilhooly.

A total of 16 goats were rescued from a home that could not provide the care they needed. Cinnamon and Q-Tip are at the farm now and are a bonded pair. 

When they first arrived, they were standoffish; now, they’re very friendly, laid-back and curious. 

“They have come around a lot,” she says. 

The farm has a variety of animals come into its care, including water buffaloes, cows, quails, chickens, goats and roosters. Dawn and Dusk, the water buffalo and cow pair, have since been moved to a foster home. 

BC SPCA’s Good Shepherd barn was half sold to them and half donated. The property has been renovated to accommodate all of the different animals. 

"We also had two garages, one of which is now our education centre, and the other has been renovated into a cat seizure facility,” says Gilhooly. "The old house building is our adoption centre, so we've had to use the space as best we can, using the old living room for our front office."

The staff and animals have been at the site for just over 10 years now. 

“We are the only centre in the Lower Mainland that would take in farm animals when they come into BC SPCA care,” she says. 

How to adopt farm animals

When it comes to farm animal adoption, Gilhooly says “we want to make sure that people are prepared to look after that species of animal.”

People wanting to adopt farm animals need to have the correct facility, have knowledge of the animal and need to be willing to work with a specific vet that specializes in the animal. 

“We do often ask for pictures of the space that they’re hoping to house the animals,” she says, adding this is not to preclude anyone from adoption. Rather, it is to advise on the space if needed. 

"I would love for people to think about the animals that they're adopting, give it some good proper thought, make sure that they can provide the care that animal needs and commit to it for the longer term,” says Gilhooly. 

Both Cinnamon and Q-tip are available for adoption.

Can you visit the animals? 

BC SPCA hosts a kids camp at the Good Shepherd Barn allowing children the opportunity to tour and meet the animals. 

"We are looking at developing a weekly tour of the centre,” she says. 

People often try to come and see the farm animals at the Surrey location, so there is a desire for the tours.

Work is being done right now to set up the tour for the public with details to be revealed soon.

BC SPCA'S Good Shepherd Barn is their only location in the Lower Mainland to take in farm animals. Alanna Kelly