Animals find a forever home and a new lease on life at RASTA Sanctuary in Chemainus

Animals find a forever home and a new lease on life at RASTA Sanctuary in Chemainus

Third annual fundraiser Saturday aims to raise $5,000

Lucie Cerny’s worries never stop.

Caring for and treating abused and abandoned animals, and hearing about others but not necessarily being able to do anything about it keeps her on an emotional roller coaster.

Her Rescue And Sanctuary for Threatened Animals on Chemainus Road is at capacity. She’d love to take in more animals in the same situation as those currently on her four-acre property previously faced, but you can only do so much.

The stories are endless of what Cerny has experienced and the heartbreak created from eventually losing an animal saved from a horrible existence, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We get contacted almost every single day, people asking us to take various animals,” Cerny said.

People appreciate what she does at the site, with the aid of volunteers, but the expenses of running such a facility are high for feed, medicine, vet care and more.

That’s one of the reasons the Dixie For RASTA fundraiser has become such an important event.

The third annual fundraiser takes place Saturday, Nov. 4 in the Chemainus United Church Hall at 9814 Willow St. The event features The Free Radical Dixies music, a silent auction, a vegan bake sale and specialty vegan meats and cheeses from the Very Good Butchers in Victoria.

Admission is by donation. The goal is to raise a modest $5,000.

“Every year, we’re trying to add on to it and make it a little bigger,” said Cerny.

Lana Halme, who’s a member of the Dixie band, started the fundraiser that brought in $1,000 the first year. The total more than doubled last year and it’s hoped to keep the momentum going for the sake of so many animals finding a forever home at RASTA.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the event runs from 7-9 p.m.

“We have over 100 silent auction items,” noted Cerny.

RASTA is a registered charity and donations are always very much appreciated.

“Feed and veterinary bills, I would say would be the highest expenses,” Cerny pointed out.

“Most recently, in the last week or so, we’ve been fortunate to find an awesome vet who is compassionate for all animals.”

The vet makes the trek all the way from Black Creek, basically a two-hour trip each way, and “he’s had to come out four times in the last week or so,” Cerny indicated.

Since arriving in these parts from Alberta a little more than two years ago, Cerny’s will has been tested. Within a very short time, she lost 13 pot belly pigs under mysterious circumstances.

“We now know they were poisoned,” Cerny confirmed. “We don’t know if it was on purpose or accidental.”

Since testing was inconclusive of the source, she can no longer accept drop-offs of donated food which was a huge means of support for the animals.

“To donate food, they need to basically make an appointment,” Cerny pointed out.

It’s not the way she’d like to handle the situation, but she was left with no choice.

Dealing with sick animals is a way of life at the sanctuary, but it doesn’t make it any easier for Cerny to accept when one of them dies. It was a particularly trying time recently for two of her pot belly pigs.

“We’ve never done more than one euthanasia in a day,” noted Cerny. “Two of those guys were put down. They’ve been with us 10 years each.”

Fortunately, there was also some good news, as miniature horse Toby made a great comeback after his prospects previously appeared rather dim.

“The little guy is back to eating and drinking normally again and feeling much better,” wrote Cerny on her Facebook page. “Thank you again to all of our wonderful supporters for your kind and encouraging comments and to those who donated towards his medical expenses. We couldn’t have done this without you.”

At the same time, Cerny recently found out about the ultimate in animal cruelty when a pig named Gracie was literally hog tied and thrown into the back of a pick-up truck.

“I can’t even begin to describe how completely and utterly disgusted I am with the types of individuals that would treat another sentient creature in such a heinous way,” Cerny wrote about the incident. “Rather than wasting my breath on people who clearly lack the slightest bit of compassion and most basic human decency, I’d rather focus my energy on the amazing Michelle at A Home for Hooves Farm Sanctuary and her big heart for taking in yet another thrown away pet that no one else cared about.”

The owners had apparently planned on shooting her if they couldn’t find someone to take Gracie away. Cerny didn’t have room at the RASTA sanctuary, but was glad the non-profit A Home for Hooves Farm Sanctuary in Duncan could provide a home.

“Thankfully Gracie has found a sponsor to help with her monthly feed costs, but unfortunately she isn’t spayed as the vast majority of pet pigs aren’t,” noted Cerny. “This is a rather costly and extremely important surgery to ensure the safe and successful integration of Gracie with the rest of the piggy herd. Female pigs go into heat once a month and get very aggressive with other pigs when left intact. When running a farm sanctuary it’s extremely important that all the pigs are spayed and neutered. The estimated cost of having a pig of Gracie’s size spayed is around $500.”

Cerny now has a literal barnyard of nearly 70 animals that includes turkeys, ducks, geese, donkeys, sheep and goats besides pot belly pigs, a steer, miniature horse and swine pigs.

Pirate, a pig with a prosthetic leg, is a clear case of Cerny going the extra mile to provide a better quality of life. Pirate’s already had three prosthetic legs and will soon require a fourth due to growth.

One of Cerny’s hopes is to build a barn next year, an admittedly huge project, but one that will go a long way toward making the surroundings that much more comfortable for the animals.