Each of them has a name — Nigel, Philip, Violet, Paloma, Bernie, Leo.
Every one of them has a past which likely includes neglect, abandonment, abuse, or the loss of a human who could properly provide care.
Funny thing is, not a single one of them seems to remember where they came from. Today they play together, share sunshine and food, cozy up when it gets cold, and scamper together to greet whichever visitor might be lucky enough to scratch them behind the ear.
These creatures — one-, two-, three- and four-legged, are all fortunate enough to have found a forever-home where they are honored, cherished and encouraged to live out their days in the care of loving volunteers and dedicated keepers.
Artists Kit and Pete Jagoda first began harboring wayward animals in the early ’90s after joining a local pet rescue group that opened their eyes to the plight of animals in need. From a humble 800-square-foot farmhouse on 45 acres they built a refuge, and set about expanding with a large barn, several sturdy shelters, pens and a newly constructed, heated outbuilding.
In 1999 River, a rescued shelter dog who had become the Jagoda’s constant companion and inspiration, lost a courageous battle with cancer. In his honor the couple named their haven River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary. Along with countless volunteers, generous donors and tireless hours of watchful and intentional attention, animals — rabbits, goats, cats, geese, dogs, donkeys, cows, turkeys, pigs, horses, ducks, and just about any other creature in need of care — who’d been left for dead, now thrive and run free with full bellies, warm beds and the promise of a life free of worry.