TEHACHAPI, Calif. — It all started with two miniature donkeys, and now the Healing Hearts Farm Sanctuary has transformed into a place for farm animals to live long happy lives.
“A few years ago I was getting ready to go into private practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I wanted to incorporate animals for animal assisted therapy into my practice," said Jennefer Lawson.
Jennefer and her husband Jason adopted two donkeys but little did they know, that decision would transform their home into the healing hearts farm sanctuary.
“It slowly started, or quickly actually, started developing after that and we branched out to other farm animals besides donkeys," she said.
Like alpacas, cows and even bunnies.
“Once you see one in need, it’s hard to turn your back on another," said Jason.
The couple rescues animals from various situations ranging from owners who can no longer care for them to slaughter auctions
“We find ourselves in a position of not allowing them, or trying to step in and outbid them so that animal gets a second chance at life," said Jason.
The farm offer tours and community events, and Jennefer said none of it would be possible without the community’s help.
“We have volunteers that help us pretty much with the day to day chores that we have here. Giving attention to the animals. Grooming them. Feeding them," said Jennefer.
The best part -- truly forming those special bonds with the animals.
“Seeing an animal that doesn't trust and being able to bring them back to a state of mind that they can trust humans again, I think that’s by the far the most rewarding," said Jason.
Jennefer said her next goal is to create a wellness center where she can host clients for animal-assisted therapy, sharing her and Jason’s love for these animals with others.
“We just wanted to create an environment where other people could experience what we do on a daily basis. We wanted a place where the community could come and see how awesome it is to have relationships with these animals," she said.
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