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Blind cow and orphaned calf to help at-risk youth: Surrey sanctuary

SALI's Farm takes in rescued animals and runs a program for at-risk youth

Gracie grazes at the SALI's Farm, a animal sanctuary in Surrey, B.C.

Submitted / SALI's Farm

Gracie grazes at the SALI's Farm, a animal sanctuary in Surrey, B.C.

A blind cow and orphaned calf are the newest family members at the SALI Farm in Surrey, a sanctuary that helps at-risk youth by introducing them to rescued farm animals.

The bovines were rescued from a slaughterhouse after a member of the public noticed Gracie’s injuries due to her vision impairment. She had cuts from barbed wire and had fallen into a well at one point. Peanut, the three-month old calf, lost her mother around the same time and the two were paired together at the sanctuary.

Staff hope Gracie and Peanut’s stories will inspire empathy among the school-aged children who will visit the farm once a week starting in October. It’s part a program for at-risk youth that SALI’s Farm runs in partnership youth transition homes, where children are fleeing violence, as well as schools.

Gracie grazes at the SALI's Farm, a animal sanctuary in Surrey, B.C

SALI's Farm

Gracie grazes at the SALI's Farm, a animal sanctuary in Surrey, B.C

“The main thing is they immediately feel unconditional love from the animals and there’s no judgement. The animals don’t care what the kids look like, what their story is, what they’ve been labelled,” said Keryn Denroche, founder and executive director of the charity.

“That’s huge with these kids.”

Learning how to treat the animals with kindness and take care of them helps the children feel like they are making a difference in the world, she added.

“They get to learn in an environment that is all about taking care of the animals and not using them,” said Denroche.

Many of the animals at SALI’s Farm come from traumatic situations and the at-risk youth often empathize with their stories, she added.

“Peanut is an orphan. The kids that come here from foster homes will really be able to relate to that situation.”

Gracie and Peanut are SALI’s first cows ever. The farm is also home to two horses, two goats, one rooster, one hen, three barn cats, and several rabbits.

SALI's Farm took in Peanut after her mother died.

SALI's Farm

SALI's Farm took in Peanut after her mother died.

But Gracie is due to give birth in the spring and Denroche says the charity is making preparations for the eventuality of three full-grown cows on the property.

The pair have been at SALI’s Farm since July and quickly settled in. Denroche says she is impressed by their resilience.

“Being blind, [Gracie] has done really well,” she said, explaining that Peanut acts as her seeing-eye calf.

And while Gracie is blind, her sense of smell is just fine.

“When we’re bringing her out her breakfast and dinner, she always makes a straight line toward us.”

SALI’s Farm is hosting its annual fundraiser, dubbed the Black Tails and Boots Gala, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at the farm. Guests can mingle with the animals during cocktail hour and enjoy a sit-down dinner at the garden.

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