I had the unique pleasure of chatting with Ziggy's mama yesterday for almost 4 hours on the phone. (We are women, women like to talk. lol) But while talking to her, I learned about some of the GREAT things that are being planned for Ziggy's Refuge. They are currently raising money for the downpayment for this "once in a lifetime property" opportunity in NC where they plan to have a vegan bed and breakfast, Ziggyfest (yearly), MANY other things and most of all, they hope to be able to assist sooooo many animals on the east coast that needs homes every day with their sanctuary.
From my understanding, there has been some outside chatter about them, their plans, their goal and some people have been extremely hateful about their desire to start a rescue. That makes me sad. They have done so much to help others and based on those experiences from traveling with Ziggy, they knew animal rescue is what they wanted to do. So here are some important things that I believe will help clarify some of the lingering questions people may have. I have met Ziggy, Kristin and Jay, I have seen their passion, I have heard them speak about the desire to change peoples and animals lives. I have nothing but nice things to say about them and honestly can't imagine anyone saying anything ugly or hateful to or about them. If you have a dream, it is up to YOU to go after it. I was not asked to write anything on their behalf, I wanted to in order to clarify some questions that people may have. Here are some things I want to clear up about their situation.
1. They will have a mortgage, the money they're trying to raise is for a downpayment so the mortgage payment will be within reason plus a little more to make some much needed improvements in order for them to be have the ability to start rescuing animals on that property immediately.
2. The plans go way beyond what is in the fundraising campaign. I don't know if I am letting the cat out of the bag by telling everyone about some of the other things they plan to do, but I will share some of what I learned when talking to Kristin. They have several structures on the property, so they want those families, who want to adopt a pig, to come stay in one of the cottages for a few days WITH the pig they want to adopt so they're comfortable with the care of a pig before taking that pig home. (Meeting other criteria will also play a crucial part in the adoption process, of course) but, how awesome is that? I wish I had someone next door that could've showed me how to do things and what the different behaviors and sounds meant. Volunteers will also have the ability to stay right on the property eliminating the need to find a hotel or find somewhere to stay.
3. They are not trying to take funding away from anyone else or other rescues who are in need of money for various things. Ziggy's parents have been working towards this goal ever since they reached the US from their home in the Virgin Islands and they saw the need for additional rescues during their travels. This particular plan has been in the works for about a year. They have been looking at properties all over the US for quite some time in an attempt to find one located in an area that was accessible to the public rather easily. Their ultimate goal is to be able to help some of the larger, well-established rescues when they're ready to retire. As it stands, ALL the rescues are full. There is nowhere for pigs to go if a rescue closes. So I thought it was important to mention that.
4. They have a "live" question/answer event, once a week, I believe. They do it live so people can ask questions in real time and get answers on the spot. If you have questions about them, their plans, their fundraiser or anything else, go to Ziggy the traveling pig page and see when their next live session will be and comment with your questions. They also have a generous attorney who is helping them on this venture who has also applied for their 501c3. (Which is still pending as of today-these things take time to get into place, but typically they are retroactive to the date you filed) I personally appreciate the transparency and willingness on their part to answer the tough questions people ask.
5. They have obviously dedicated their lives to helping animals and have spent the last several years living in an RV and traveling the US stopping off to help several rescues for long periods of time. So they have some experience in what rescuing animals entails. They have learned valuable life lessons, good ways to do things and they have also learned about the bad part of rescue. Things to avoid, what NOT to do when you have animals to care for. They have had the opportunity to meet with people from all over the country and they've been given guidance from some of the wonderful places that rescue pigs, in addition to other animals, that will guide them towards success. They are not claiming to know everything there is about animal rescue, they will have a lot more to learn, but I respect anyone who is dedicated as much as they are to making this happen.
6. They plan to have seminars and events routinely at Ziggy's Refuge. Educational seminars, How-to clinics, community events...everything that encompasses animal rescue. They also eventually want to have employees and veterinarians that stay on the property. None of this will happen overnight, but again, the goal is for Ziggy's Refuge to continue forever, long after Jay and Kristin have passed on. (That is a little morbid, I know, but they want their dream to be carried on by others once they are no longer able to physically do it themselves. Like 50-60 years from now)
Ultimately, they want to have a rescue that people WANT to go to. A place that people plan their vacation around so they can visit the animals, possibly volunteer and I think that is GREAT. There are so many rescues that are overwhelmed. They are full, they have no more room and as these animals get older, their needs increase often needing more costly care leaving even less resources available to help other animals in desperate need of help. Most rescues start off by accident. I do not know of anyone that has a rescue and it was their childhood dream to do so. Most start because there is nowhere else for these animals to go and their heart won't let them walk away from an animal in need.
Ziggy and his parents are making a conscious decision to help animals and they're doing so by creating their own community that will be self sustained, much like a business. They will welcome people to visit, have cottages that people can rent. Host weddings and events for others. That is also why this particular property is so important to them. It isn't hundreds of miles away from everything and everybody. It is on the east coast and positioned in the mid-atlantic area, easily accessible to many animals who may need a safe place to go. They're not asking for everyone to donate hundreds of dollars, they're asking for everyone to donate 5.00 to help them get to their goal. If you want to help, awesome. Donate. If you do not, that's ok too, thanks for taking the time to read what I have had to say. Please consider sharing their fundraiser so they can reach more people.
I wish Ziggy all the best luck to reach his goal and will help out in any way that I can. I wish nothing but success for EVERYONE who is working on the front lines to help animals, but I also know there is room for one more! Help them reach their goal by donating or sharing, write about a memorable experience you may have had with Ziggy, write about your dream experience with them. If meeting them is on your bucket list, that dream may be more attainable than you think. Ask them how you can help them, share their story and fundraiser, be supportive, be kind. That is how the pig community works, we always help each other.
We urge everyone to do some research on anyone or any organization they're donating to, thats just the smart thing to do!
Use the link below to read more about their plans....I know I am super excited to watch this happen!
This was my first time meeting Ziggy and his family. I loved them. His mama was super passionate about appropriately caring for him as well as other animals and it is a great honor to call them friends.
Our names are Brittany Sawyer and Nicole Cox and we are pig parents, pig advocates and also the authors of the "Dear Pig Whisperer" blog. Follow our blog that will feature topics to help you become the best pig parent you can be...along with some other fun things. We will also feature guest bloggers from time to time who want to share their life experience or knowledge with anyone who is interested in learning.