LEESVILLE, SC (WIS) - In Leesville, there is a safe haven for abandoned, abused, neglected, and elderly farm animals. The Cotton Branch Animal Sanctuary devotes all of its resources to give these animals a full life.
To help pay for that, the nonprofit is holding a road race this Saturday. Ducks, roosters, chickens, little chicks, turkeys, pigs of all kinds, goats, donkeys, horses, a mule and a cow. Each of these lives - almost ended. Josh Costner is the director at Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary.
"Some were used in dog training. Some came from dairies. Our cow would have been veal. A lot of the farm pigs were used as bait animals. Some were rescued from factory farms, same with our chickens. And a lot of the pigs were rescued from animal controls where they would've been euthanized," says Costner.
Those at the sanctuary breathe new life into each of their 180 rescued creatures - like this pig named Lucky.
"The best we can figure is she was used to train hunting dogs. She has a lot of scarring on her legs. Notice she's still a little skittish. And lost both of her ears."
Since Lucky is deaf, Josh taught her hand gestures.
There's a gentle giant named Pokey. He was sold as a teacup pig. He's now 700 pounds and loves to get his water straight from a hose. Several of the animals here are from homes where owners did not know what they were getting into.
"A lot of breeders are telling people to feed them a quarter cup once or twice a day to keep them small. But what they're not telling them is they will die by five or six years old." "Because you're starving them?" "Because you're starving them, yes," says Costner.
Tucker was starving and about to be taken to the slaughterhouse, but Cotton Branch paid a price to save him. This horse named Tee was blind and could have been put down but the sanctuary took Tee and paired him with another rescue horse that takes him to his food and helps him get around.
In South Carolina, there are many shelters and rescue organizations for cats and dogs and even wildlife, but there is a lack of sanctuaries for farm animals - making the work of Cotton Branch lifesaving.
The Leesville nonprofit which has enough space to take on even more animals, but they need the finances to feed and care for them. So they invite you to their 5k this Saturday.
Registration is at 6:30 and the race starts at 7 a.m. You can register right now though at www.StrictlyRunning.com.
The start and finish are at Hand Middle School in Columbia's Shandon neighborhood. It's $35 in advance and $40 on race day - with the money going to help save and rehabilitate formerly abused, neglected, and elderly farm animals.