- Can I volunteer? Yes! Blackberry Creek is run by an all-volunteer team and we are always happy to have helpers. Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older and attend a mandatory volunteer orientation before serving at the sanctuary. Students ages 12-17 are welcome to volunteer with a parent. For more information and to sign up see our volunteer page.
- Can my group do a service project at Blackberry Creek? There are ongoing projects as well as unexpected rescues that occur at any given time at the sanctuary. Service projects must line up with sanctuary values and are scheduled on an individual basis. See the volunteer page for further details.
- Are corporate volunteers welcome? Absolutely! Please contact the sanctuary directly to schedule your company's volunteer day.
- When can I visit? Blackberry Creek has public volunteer days scheduled in the spring, summer, and fall. Click HERE to see the schedule and sign up for a tour.
- What should I bring? When visiting, it is important to check the weather as the sanctuary is located in the foothills and often experiences different weather patterns than the valley. Close-toed shoes are required for safety and it is a good idea to dress in layers and wear clothes you don't mind getting dirty with pig kisses! Feel free to bring a camera, but flash photography is not permitted as it can disturb the animals. Snacks are welcome, but out of respect for our residents, meat, eggs, and dairy products are not to be brought on sanctuary grounds.
- Where are you located? We are located in the foothills of Northern California off of Highway 80. We are about 40 miles northwest of Sacrament and approximately 60 miles southeast of Tahoe. Our address is 1170 Pinecroft Road Colfax, CA 95713.
- Can I bring my dog? While we love our K-9 companions just as much as you do, many of our residents are sensitive around dogs or have had past negative experiences. Please leave your pups at home for your visit to the sanctuary.
- Can my group sign up for a private visit? Blackberry Creek offers private group tours March through October. Please contact the sanctuary directly to schedule your group!
- How can I donate? The easiest way to donate funds is online through our donation page. If you have a PayPal account, you can schedule monthly donations to sponsor an animal or provide a one-time gift. If you'd prefer, you can mail a check to 1170 Pinecroft Road Colfax, CA 95713. You can also donate supplies or bequest a gift to the sanctuary. See the donate page for more details.
- Is my donation tax-deductible? Absolutely! Blackberry Creek is a 501(c)(3) organization, and donations of both supplies and money are tax-deductible. We can provide you with a receipt for tax purposes if requested.
- What are the sanctuary's greatest needs? Currently our greatest needs are monthly animal sponsorships (to provide food, bedding, and medical care), 6' woven wire fencing, and a truck to pull our trailer for transporting large animals.
- I want to donate items rather than funds. What would be helpful? Thank you for your interest in donating much needed supplies! Check out our Amazon list or our regular supply needs HERE.
- Can I surrender an animal? Blackberry Creek was created to rescue farm animals in need and connect their lives to those of the general public. By showing people what farm animals' lives are like we hope to promote a lifestyle of compassion, and our greatest hope is that one day, sanctuaries and shelters are not needed anymore. With that being said, we simply cannot take every animal that we are called on to save. While we would like nothing more than to do so, the sanctuary is run solely on donations and volunteers and taking in too many residents means the individual care we are able to provide to our current residents would diminish. With that being said, we are occasionally able to intake a new resident and if not, we will make every effort to advise you on placing your animal in the best possible home. We advise getting your animal spayed or neutered and not placing an ad on Craigslist or a similar platform. This will avoid people who seem to have good intentions, but are really interested in breeding the animal or using it for profit. We also have social media networks that we can assist you with in order to find a human who will love your animal as a friend rather than food.
- Can you take my rooster? Please read in conjunction with the above section "Can I surrender an animal?" Because of the trend of backyard egg-laying hens, many roosters who escape the meat grinder as chicks and are "mis-sexed" end up as unwanted backyard birds about whom neighbors complain. We get calls weekly for rooster, and at this point, are full to capacity. Though it may seem like a good idea to dump your rooster in a neighborhood such as Old Fair Oaks, where chickens roam free, think again. These birds often get run over by cars, contract diseases, starve, and get eaten by predators due to lack of shelter. Contact us or your local animal shelter if no companion homes are available. We will do our best to help you find a home for your precious roo.
- What do I do if I see an animal who needs help? If you see an animal that is hurt, suffering, or neglected, act immediately. You are on scene and the best person to explain the circumstances to the proper authorities. Do not assume someone else will fix the problem. Contact the owner directly if it is safe to do so. If the owner is not available or cooperative, call your local animal shelter or Animal Control through your local police department. Do not attempt to handle the animal on your own as you may inadvertently injure yourself or cause further injury to the animal and do not enter the property without permission from the proper authorities.
- Do you rescue dogs, cats, or wildlife? Though we do have several rescued cats and dogs, we focus primarily on farm animals as they are the most exploited and least funded of all rescued animals. If you have a dog or cat to place, we will try to assist you by putting you in contact with one of our local shelters or foster homes. We are not licensed to provide care to wildlife, but would recommend Gold Country Wildlife Rescue in Loomis or Wildlife Care Association in McClellan.
- I want backyard chickens. Their eggs cause no harm, right? While it is wonderful you are considering the improved conditions in the lives of hens that grow up in your backyard, rather than a factory, by purchasing backyard hens you are supporting the hatcheries that supply them. These organizations kill over 600 million baby male chicks a year in meat grinders while they are fully conscious, and the ones they misidentify as females grow up to be unwanted backyard roosters, dumped to fend for themselves or overwhelming local shelters before they are euthanized. Just like factory hens, backyard chickens have been engineered to lay far more eggs than normal, which wreaks havoc on their reproductive systems and leads to various health issues including increased rates of Cancer. Hens eggs belong to them and them alone. If you'd like to have companion chickens please consider adopting ex-egg laying hens from the battery cage egg industry through our friend and fellow sanctuary Animal Place.
- Can I start my own fundraiser for you? Absolutely! Fundraisers are always needed as we run solely on donations! The fundraiser must simply line up with our values and be approved by the Blackberry Creek board before anyone may affiliate with the sanctuary or use its name. Please contact us for more details.
- How can I help advocate for animals? Advocating for animals can and should be done peacefully and with kindness. Social change is most effectively promoted through education and compassion rather than with violence and anger. Giving up animal products and sharing your decision with others is the best place to start. Explaining your compassionate choices, leafletting with educational information, and speaking out to those in your inner circle will help spread the message of kindness. Volunteering at your local farm animal sanctuary and donating to animal causes who are making a difference is critical as well. Teaching your children to appreciate life and not engage in activities that "normalize" the suffering of animals such as hunting, fishing, and eating meat will ensure the next generation will live with compassion. Even cutting down on your animal product consumption is a great way to start! Each and every small act for animals adds up.
- I want to know more about the animal agriculture industry. Where do I start? Watching documentaries such as Earthlings, Cowspiracy, and Called to Rescue are excellent starting points for educating yourself. There are many fantastic books on the fight for animals including classics like "Dominion" by Matthew Scully and Peter Singer's "Animal Liberation" as well as new reads like "For Love of Animals" by Charles Camosy and Melanie Joy's "Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows." The Internet is also a powerful tool for finding information. Check out other farm sanctuaries, Mercy for Animals, and the Oxford University Centre for Animal Ethics to learn more!
- I want to adopt a vegan diet, but I can't give up cheese...help! If you don't want to see baby calves ripped from their mothers, but you feel physically addicted to cheese, that's because you are! Casein, the main protein found in milk, is naturally addictive so that baby calves return to drink from their mothers. It has been linked to Cancer and one study compared its addictive properties to those of heroin! Check out the study here. Our founders were once in the same boat, and understand the self-control it takes to wean off dairy. The good news is, that once you've gone without dairy for a month or two, you no longer have those seemingly uncontrollable cravings. If you struggle, just remember, your love for cheese could never be as strong as the love a mother cow and her calf have for each other.
- How can I eat healthfully and affordably on a vegan diet? Eating a vegan diet leads to a lifetime habits of good health and lowers the risk of three of the most dangerous killers: stroke, heart disease, and Cancer. Consuming meat, eggs, and dairy also increase one's risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and impotence. Essential protein, vitamins, and minerals can be found abundantly in everything from vegetables, legumes, and nuts, to tofu, beans, and oatmeal. See the Going Vegan page for research and resources. Remember that meat, dairy, and eggs are typically the most exspensive parts of a meal, so it will easy to save money on groceries by cutting them out. Check out budget-friendly plant-based recipes here!
- Can I adopt one of your animals? Blackberry Creek is a sanctuary, and as such, provides our rescued animals literal sanctuary for the rest of their lives. Though we do not have an adoption program, we encourage you to adopt companion animals from local shelters, including chickens from our sanctuary neighbor, Animal Place, if you intend to give them loving care and not use them for profit or food of any kind.
- I want to adopt a rescued farm animal. Where can I find one? Our fellow sanctuary Animal Place has chickens who are adoptable as companion animals only. Leaps and Bounds Rabbit Rescue also rehomes rescued rabbits and bunnies. As for larger farm animals, contact your local shelter if you are interesting in adopting them for "friends not food!"
- I want to start a sanctuary too! Pam Ahern, founder of Australia's incredible farm sanctuary, "Edgar's Mission," tackled this question in great detail and was spot on. See her answer below to see if a sanctuary is right for you! "Whilst it is very commendable that people wish to start a sanctuary for rescued animals there are many things to consider beforehand that can prevent much heartache down the track. Here is but a snapshot of a few considerations. Edgar’s Mission was established, almost unintentionally, under the watchful eye of our inspirational and much-loved first resident, Edgar Alan Pig. The feelings that inspired me to found Edgar’s Mission are likely to be the same feelings that inspire you to start your own sanctuary for rescued farmed animals – our abhorrence for the scale and injustice of suffering inflicted upon many individual farmed animals around the world and the need to not only offer those we can safety, compassion and lives worth living, but to be a much needed voice for those we cannot. We strive for our residents to be ambassadors for their kin whose suffering behind closed doors and gates is out of the sight and minds of most people. And we strive to offer a means for people to learn about farmed animals and what their lives are really like, allowing them to make informed choices that reflect their own sense of justice, kindness and compassion. While these reasons for starting a farmed animal sanctuary are entirely sound, the undertaking of such a mission must be very carefully considered. It must be understood that in order to provide the best level of care for the animals dependent upon your care, the dedication required is all-consuming. As the person who is responsible for the entire functioning of the sanctuary, it requires that you spend varying amounts of time cleaning, medicating, socialising, feeding and watering the animals, answering emails and telephone calls, collecting animals, conducting the financial affairs of the organisation, co-ordinating volunteers, promoting your organisation, fundraising for the sanctuary, and a myriad of other day-to-day tasks that take up time, as well as catching a few hours sleep. Not only does this require an enormous physical commitment but an emotional and financial one as well, not to mention an enormous amount of knowledge. The days are long and tiring and days off are few. None of this is to say that the joy we can bring to these animals’ lives is not worth it, but in order for sanctuaries to provide the best lives they can to their residents, those who operate them must forego most of what most people would call ‘normal lives’. The practicalities of starting an animal sanctuary are many fold. Firstly, it is essential to own land that is suitable for the animals who will live in your sanctuary. A recent case in England of a sanctuary facing eviction after many years in existence, highlights one of the problems that can be encountered when one does not have clear title to the land. You must also consult the local council to ensure your planned activity complies with council regulations and bylaws. You will also need to consider neighbours. Will they be receptive? The cost and practicalities of installing/erecting suitable housing and fencing, maybe different for each species, and must also be taken into consideration. Your selection of land will be of critical importance. Things you will need to consider are, but by no means limited to; rainfall, carrying capacity, water supply, natural shelter, distance to veterinary assistance, accessibility, bushfire threats, existing use of the land, existing and proposed use of neighbouring land and current infrastructure. Once you have the necessary infrastructure, you must have the necessary funds to ensure that you are always able to feed, water and medicate as necessary, all of the animals in your care with a back-up of at least two months’ outgoings in case of emergency. Securing funds involves fund-raising, establishing and encouraging monthly and one-off donations and applying for grants, all of which are labour-intensive. The administration of a sanctuary must also be considered and this will include applying for, and operating under a not-for-profit or charitable status, obtaining tax-deductible status, and buying public liability insurance if you wish to allow people to visit your sanctuary. You must also ensure that financial matters are taken care of, including receipts for donations, fulfilling statutory requirements, payment of bills, purchase of supplies, etc. Of course, you will also rescue animals to live in your sanctuary and they will come from many situations. You will hear about terrible situations of neglect, cruelty and abandonment, and you may rescue from stockyards and farmers who would otherwise slaughter the animals. The problem is not finding animals in need of rescue; it is hearing of those who desperately need help and being unable to offer it to them. You will receive many calls from people who want you to help them, and you may find, with a heavy heart, you will have to say “No”. You must know how many animals you are able to care for at any one time and not exceed this limit in order not to compromise the welfare of the existing residents. This will be one of your greatest challenges. Record keeping will form a large part of your work, both for the farm and animals you care for. For each rescued animal you will need to keep extensive records, where they came from, health status, other pertinent information along with any veterinary treatments you provide. I hope this information is of use to you, but because of differing circumstances please don’t take it to be an exhaustive account of the requirements of establishing and running a farmed animal sanctuary. Each case will, of course, be very individual. From experience, I can say with certainly that the mission I undertake now is the hardest path I could have taken in life. It requires dedication to the point of exclusion of many other aspects of life, and frustration, sadness, anger, despondency, tiredness and desperation are felt alongside the joy, satisfaction, pleasure and sense of privilege, that are experienced when spending all day, every day, working on behalf of rescued farmed animals. Establishing a place of safety and compassion is one of the most rewarding undertakings you could consider. It will bring an enormous amount of joy into your life as well as an enormous amount of hard work. However, the most important thing to consider is that once the animals are in your care, they are your responsibility and they will rely on you for everything. You must never let them down. This is an enormous undertaking. With very best wishes for your venture – the animals need as many compassionate people working on their behalf as possible. Please also consider lending a hand or interning at existing sanctuary first to gain valuable insights."