Cotton Branch: My Personal Introduction to its Amazing Residents
I have been an animal advocate all my life. When I was little, I could be found in my fort made of throw pillows from the couch, surrounded by all of my stuffed animals with my doctor’s kit in hand. I would then proceed to cut the toe ends of my socks off to make casts for the stuffed animals who came to my office (yes, I was a veterinarian in my mind) with broken bones. This is where my love of non-human animals started, but it is absolutely not where it ended.
I have worked with and for animals as a professional and a volunteer for more than seven years - from dog trainer to humane educator and from volunteer coordinator to fundraiser. I say advocating for animals is working “for” them because I do what I do “for” the animals in order to make the world a better place for them. It’s a huge part of what I want to do with the rest of my life - write on behalf of animals who cannot speak for themselves, live the most compassionate life I can, and raise my son to be the kindest person he can be to all the animals on Earth.
After relocating to Charleston, South Carolina due to my husband’s job, I immediately started searching for ways I could be involved in helping animals. I started fostering rescues from a local shelter but I wanted to do more for those animals who often fall through the cracks: farmed animals. I was quickly introduced to Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary - a safe haven for them. Not only was Cotton Branch a sanctuary for abused, abandoned and neglected farmed animals, but it also offered rescue and transport (whether or not the sanctuary could take them in as a resident) while educating the community about these loving, peaceful creatures. I noticed Cotton Branch had reached out to volunteers in search of a freelance community writer and I knew that I had to respond. A few days later I talked with a board member and planned to make the drive to the sanctuary and meet the residents.
The whole time I was driving the 3 1/2 hours to Cotton Branch, I felt so happy. By the time I got there, my face hurt from smiling. Nevertheless, I continued to smile the entire time I was there visiting with the residents. I was greeted by Jan (the founder & director), Jason (the director of volunteer engagement), and a few volunteers. Everyone was so friendly and warm. Jan proceeded to take me on a tour, introducing me to every animal and telling me their names, characteristics of their personality and their background. She took me on an amazing journey into these animals’ lives and stories; it was as if I had been there with them through all of it. I was overcome with emotion, to the point of tears. The experience was that life-changing.
Visiting Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary was so special for me and my son. My 14 month old son rode on my back in a baby carrier during the entire visit, in awe of all of the farmed animals that he had never seen before. One of the many memorable moments was when Beau first saw Freckles, a magnificent young bull. When Beau made eye contact with him Freckles leaned in for a kiss just as Beau leaned in for one too. It was precious and filled my heart with joy.
Even though Beau is so young, I can tell he makes the connection that animals are our friends and we must treat them with kindness. My family lives a compassionate lifestyle because it is best to our bodies, minds and souls, and is also the kindest option for the animals and for the planet. Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary is peace on Earth for all of its residents, and a magical place for visitors to truly connect with these gorgeous, smart, magnificent beings.
Please consider visiting, volunteering your time, or donating to this wonderful organization that helps so many animals, as well as people. Cotton Branch is truly changing hearts and minds every day through continuous community outreach efforts, resident care, sanctuary tours and rescues. Please continue to follow this blog for Cotton Branch resident biographies, sanctuary updates, kind recipes, hot new cruelty-free product reviews, compassionate lifestyle tips, farmed animal care and facts, and so much more!