Open Arms and Pastures: Rescue Farms in the Bay Area


Lightning, a goat resident, perks up against a fence at Alma Bonita Animal Rescue in Morgan Hill, Calif. on Dec. 4. Lighting, along with other goats, was rescued when they were found living in a dog kennel without any outdoor space and a severe lice infestation putting their lives at risk. (Morgan Ellis / Xpress Magazine)


The value of having a safe space to turn to when faced with trauma is universally appreciated. This is not unique to humans; animals can also reap the emotional and physical benefits of a new home in the face of harmful living conditions.



In the Bay Area, there are rescue farms overflowing with compassion that give animals a new home when they are otherwise likely to lack quality of life, or even die prematurely.


“If an animal comes from a situation where they’ve been abused or neglected, it’s just like a human. They don’t trust anybody at first,” said Sheila Murphy, founder of Alma Bonita Animal Rescue.


Farms such as Alma Bonita in Morgan Hill and Sweet Farm in Half Moon Bay welcome animals from a variety of situations, including animals who were surrendered pets or 4-H projects. A 4-H animal project is when a family loans an animal from places such as slaughter or dairy farms for the participating child to raise. Raising livestock promotes personal growth in the caretaker and teaches them responsibility, according to Penn State’s Department of Animal Science.


Because the animals are loans from bigger companies’ farms, when the child concludes their project, they can return them or pay for what the company is losing in revenue by not having that animal back.


Many families grow attached to the animal that they raise, explains Erik Matousek, a caretaker at Sweet Farm. They bring them to rescues once their project is done so that they know the animal will live out the rest of their life in peace.


The relationships that grow between the animals and their caretakers are symbiotic. Just as much as the people working on the farms are able to provide sustenance and love to their animals, the process of rehabilitating and forming connections with them is similarly beneficial to the human.


“We have a heart relationship. I can walk up to almost any animal here and just feel what they’re feeling, and it’s taught me to slow down,” Murphy said.