Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beautiful People

"A CHANCE FOR BLISS" welcomes old, sick and disabled animals that would face certain euthanasia at most shelters.

It can be close to impossible to find homes for animals who are older, disabled or sick, so David "Woody" Bartley and his wife, Deanna, founded A Chance For Bliss Animal Sanctuary and Wellness Institute in Penryn, Calif., specifically to provide a home for these "unadoptable" animals.

They unknowingly began their quest in 2000, when they took in a couple of elderly Boston Terriers named Chance and Bliss that had been surrendered to a shelter. "We were amazed at how grateful these two beings were," Woody says. "It was like they said thank you to us every day in a variety of ways."

After that, the Bartleys were hooked on helping the most vulnerable animals, and decided to start a sanctuary specifically to provide a home for old, sick and disabled creatures. The primary difference between A Chance For Bliss and other shelters is that every animal that comes to their sanctuary gets to stay forever.

Over the last decade, Woody and Deanna have welcomed more than 170 animals to the sanctuary; some have lived as briefly as six days while one dog has lasted more than ten years. While many pet lovers would balk at caring for an animal that is not long for this world, the Bartleys don't care. Besides, they see the difference that a permanent home makes in the sometimes all-too-brief lives of the animals. "Tenure is not important to us, just that each resident experiences dignity and love for every day they are with us," Woody explains.

Currently 90 animals call A Chance For Bliss home, including 24 horses, 22 dogs, eight pot-belly pigs, seven goats, seven ducks, five geese, five chicken, four rabbits, three cats, three sheep, two steers and one cockatiel.

The star of the show is Homer Le Porc, the official "spokes-pig" at the sanctuary. Before coming to the shelter, Homer lived in a small box and was left behind when his previous guardians — a term Woody uses rather loosely — moved away. Since he came to the sanctuary, Homer has blossomed.

Last year, like many people, the Bartleys fell behind on their mortgage payments and were in danger of losing their home and the sanctuary. Woody kicked the fundraising efforts into high gear by launching a sponsor program where animal lovers can pledge $10 a month to help offset some of the $4,000 the sanctuary spends just on food each month. The bank also granted the Bartleys a loan modification, which has eased the financial burden.

"With all the animals we've had, it continues to amaze me how every new resident sparks an even higher level of wonder in us," Woody says. "I stand in awe of an animal's ability to forgive and forget, and we are the daily recipients of gratitude by this amazing flock."

"If others could simply welcome one old or sick animal into their home and allow them to live out their lives in dignity and peace, it would make an extraordinary difference."