Why did you decide to rescue?
Two years ago we were just an average couple: Derek, a professional magician, and me, a world-class bagpiper/real estate agent, living the dream together for 14 years in a small town just outside of Toronto. We hung out with friends, drank, and entertained by our backyard koi pond almost constantly, but that all changed one Friday night when a message came through on Facebook from an old school friend of mine. "I have a mini pig that needs a home" she said. Always a lover of animals, without hesitation I expressed interest and said I'd get back to her. Shortly thereafter a second message came along. "Someone else is interested, I need to know now." The pressure was on and being a huge animal lover, and a sucker, I took the bait. Within 12 hours of that very first message a 3lb pig was ours, and all this happened before Derek knew anything about it. Little did we know this tiny pig would change the course of our lives forever. The adventure of a lifetime had begun, and we didn't even know it.
After a few weeks of settling in we began to see the most incredible things from our new family member who was now known as "Esther". We had already fallen madly in love with this amazingly affectionate, curious and all around hilarious little pig when we made our first vet appointment. This was the day things began to get really interesting. The vet immediately brought our attention to Esther's short little tail. It had been cropped, an apparent sign she was no mini pig, but rather a full size commercial pig. We were horrified but again, madly in love. We looked at our options and more importantly, Esther's options but just couldn't bring ourselves to give her up. At the same time, we had the realization that this incredible animal we so quickly came to love was meant to be someone's dinner. We no longer had the ability to detach ourselves from what we were eating, and this caused the first of many significant life changing decisions. We went vegan. We couldn't handle the thought of the life Esther was born for, and it has become our mission to provide a home for as many of her relatives as we possibly can; and to educate as many people as we possibly can that these animals are loving, intelligent, and sensitive animals. Not just a product or a piece of pork.
Please tell us your story with rescuing.
Our first rescues at our 'Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary' happened on November 23, 2014 with the arrival of Escalade the horse and his constant companion and best friend BJ the donkey. Since then we have taken in 48 more farmed animal rescues including cows, pigs, chickens and roosters, rabbits, sheep, goats and even a peacock. The need out there is mind-boggling, especially for pigs! So many people go into adoption of these sweet creatures with the best intentions but do not do their homework ahead of time. And it doesn't help that Greeders continue to spread the fallacy of so called mini-pigs. We always encourage folks who want a pig to always adopt, shelters are full of unwanted pigs looking for forever homes. Or if people want a pig in their life, we recommend they contact their local sanctuary and adopt a pig that way. Just Google animal sanctuaries in your area. You can adopt a pig by paying for its food and upkeep, and you can visit the pig any time; it’s an open door when you sponsor an animal at a sanctuary.
What was your biggest fear with rescuing and how did this fear play out once all was said and done?
Well, we were two city boys that were suddenly thrust into this accidental activism. When we weren't sure if we could keep Esther due to her rapidly expanding girth, we looked into Farm Sanctuaries and realized they were full. So rather than be part of the problem, we decided to become part of the solution but that came with so many unknowns. Could we build and operate an animal Sanctuary? Would people support us? How would we sustain it? We had so many questions and fears, but Esther's incredible network of fans supported us and cheered us on, and we were able to raise the needed funds via Indiegogo within two months. And now that Happily Ever Esther is a registered charity, we have an incredible base of monthly supporters that assist us in providing the care and rehabilitation of abandoned and abused farmed animals. And we continue spread Esther's style of love and compassion - known as The Esther Effect!
Would you rescue again?
We continue to rescue every single day! We receive countless intake requests on a daily basis and if we cannot take them into our Sanctuary, we use our incredible rescue network, Esther's Army, to help place the animals into forever homes,
This amazing page is staffed by 3 volunteers who have saved countless animals all over the world! From placing pot-belly pigs in new homes to finding refuge for farm pigs and all types of farmed animals.
What would you say the most positive part of rescuing is?
Saving an animal from a life of abuse or from heading to slaughter. Caring for that animal, seeing it smile, experience a loving life and enriched environment for the first time. And providing that loving forever home.
We have attached one of our favorite stories about our elderly pig Bear as it describes just some of the magic we can do when we rescue.
You can also read it at this link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/happily-ever-esther-farm-sanctuary/bear/1145259335523412?ref=notif¬if_t=like¬if_id=1478240022184583
What would you like everyone to know about this topic?
We always tell supporters to continue to share Esther's message of peace, love and kindness by volunteering at other animal Sanctuaries. The help is always needed, the animals get more cuddles and you feel great so it is a win-win for all.
The change we wish to see in the world, that message must be delivered in kindness. We have had had many successes in rescue, re-homing animals, promoting an “Esther approved “ lifestyle and advocating against animal cruelty. But part of our Advocacy must also be about trying to shed light on the system itself, in the hopes of perhaps saving future Esther’s. Or at the very least attempting to improve the inhumane conditions in regards to transport and housing. As a culture we are alarmingly desensitized to the horrors that food animals face. We need to realize that our actions today can promote change and perhaps shape the world for those who follow us.
When we take photos of Esther it’s as if she knows and she smiles for the camera and appears to be saying ‘It’s about time you noticed’, because we’ve ignored it for so long. We need to listen to Esther, and not ignore it, or them, anymore.
Esther also has many social media pages which we use to share her message of compassion and changing the world:
PhoneCasesToTheRescue will be donating $5 for every Esther phone case purchased (see pic above) to Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary. SHOP here>> PhoneCasesToTheRescue!