Heartland Farm Sanctuary was founded in 2009 by Dana Barre as Wisconsin’s first farm animal sanctuary. Always passionate about animal rescue and helping vulnerable populations, Dana noticed that there were many resources available for helping abandoned or neglected dogs and cats, but nothing for farm animals who needed help.
The sanctuary started with two rescued baby goats, Clark and Diana, and our doors officially opened in 2010. Soon after Heartland was founded, Dana was invited to Camp Paw Print, a summer camp for kids through Dane County Humane Society. Dana brought Clark and Diana with her, and she noticed how the campers lit up and responded to interacting with the goats. The idea of Heartland helping animals and people was born.
As Heartland started rescuing more farm animals in need, we started a humane education summer camp for kids. Campers learned about caring for our rescued residents and helped with animal care and barn chores. We also started two animal-assisted therapeutic programs: Animal Hearts, for kids who have experienced some type of loss or trauma, and Barn Time: a program for children living with special needs.
Years later, our humane education camps have expanded to include fall and spring camps, as well as Leadership Camp for teens who are interested in our mission of inspiring compassion for all beings. We also switched from an animal-assisted therapeutic model to experiential therapy. Animal-assisted therapy implies the “use” of animals as an intervention “tool” in therapeutic settings. Because our focus is on developing social emotional skills, empathy, and compassion for all beings, we found that an experiential therapeutic approach encompasses the entire experience of life at a farm sanctuary, including the role that we play in ensuring that animals get to live life on their own terms.
Since opening our doors, we have rescued hundreds of farm animals in need. We are currently home to nearly 100 rescued farm animals of 13 different species. We take pride in providing each of our residents with high-quality, individualized care.
We’ve come a long way since 2010, and we know there’s much more work to do. And with your help, we can absolutely accomplish it. Here’s to making a difference to more farm animals and more people, and inspiring compassion for all beings.