I've been to a few animal sanctuaries in my life, but only one in my immediate area. My boyfriend, Chris, found one that is only an hour and a half outside of DC that I had never heard of so we made a trip to go visit it. PIGS Animal Sanctuary is located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia and is a place of refuge for abused, abandoned, neglected, and unwanted animals. It is called "PIGS" because when they first opened, they just had pigs. Now they house almost 500 animals.
The Executive Director, Melissa Susko, was kind enough to take us on a tour, which is something she only offers twice a month. We started at the cat area where there were so many cats of various backgrounds. There were feral cats and cats with neurological disorders. She spoke passionately and respectfully about all of them.
Around the corner, was a separate place for cats diagnosed with Feline HIV. They were beautiful.
Next, we went to see the large pigs. There were beautiful, friendly pigs in a huge area. Most of them were in the pond and covered in mud. So cute. A few came up to say, "hello," including an older pig with cancer. She explained how they removed several masses, but they just kept returning. The mud protects them from sun damage, but, behind their ears tends to get sunburned anyway. Some had skin cancer behind the ears.
Then, she showed us all of the pot-bellied pigs. PIGS was opened when having pot-bellied pigs was all the rage. Once they became full-sized though, no one wanted them and they ended up at this sanctuary.
There was a dog area where all the rescued dogs were who couldn't live with humans or other animals. Most were in their own pens.
Lastly, she introduced us to the horses and donkeys, each with their own remarkable stories.
PIGS is an amazing place and Melissa's passion for the animals is evident as she tells their stories factually, respectfully, and passionately. Even if you can't visit PIGS, consider a donation. This amazing place costs $25,000 per month to operate and all of it is funded by donations. To read more about them go here. Thank you, Melissa, and all of your volunteers and Board members for all that you do for these wonderful animals.