The Good Shepherd Animal Sanctuary aims for big expansion

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Christine “Elle” Cox, the executive director and founder of the nonprofit, said the organization’s purpose is to improve the lives of all animals.

NEAPOLIS, Ohio — There are exactly 78 animals at The Good Shepherd Animal Sanctuary in Neapolis, Ohio.

Christine “Elle” Cox, the executive director and founder of the nonprofit, said the organization’s purpose is to improve the lives of all animals.

Cox said the sanctuary has a goal to expand the six-acre farm into 20 acres or more because she wants space for all animals in need.

“We believe that when it really counts, even though there are some small differences, that (all animals) are all the same,” Cox said. “We have horses, we have cows, we have rabbits, we have cats, we have dogs, we have chickens, we have turkeys and pigs.”

The sanctuary was founded in 2018 with the sole purpose of saving all animals in distress.

Now, the issue they are currently facing is a lack of space.

“For years since we have started, we’re turning down about 80 to 150 animals, depending on the year,” Cox said.

While she wants to take in every single animal, she turns them away to avoid overcrowding. But, Cox said she typically finds them other safe spaces to live. These animals aren’t likely to be adopted, meaning no new space will become available until after an animal has passed.

But Cox and a group of volunteers look forward to caring for them regardless.

“Being with the animals and seeing the impact that we make, it really gives you that sense of fulfillment and you get to see right in front of you that you are changing lives, and hear it too,” Volunteer Team Leader Kaitlin Wertzbaugher said.

Cox hopes the nonprofit’s Betting on a Brighter Future Campaign will bring it a step or two closer to successful expansion. Her timeline said they should have enough funds within the next five years for it.

“The goal is to expand from our current six acres in Neapolis, Ohio, to 20-plus acres, so that we no longer have to continue to turn down animals in dire need of help,” Cox said.

Wertzbaugher said community support is key, no matter the amount.

“Take the money from one Starbucks latte or get involved in any small way. No amount is too small,” Wertzbaugher said. “So many more lives that we could save and amazing animals that we could have room for here and in our hearts.”

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