Surrendering an Animal

Star Gazing Farm provides permanent sanctuary to the animals who come here.  We are limited in how many animals we can take in by shelter space, pasture, quarantine paddocks, staff/volunteer time, and of course funding.

We give priority to animals who have picked up as strays, been referred by local shelters and to animals with special needs.  In rare cases we may take in an owner surrender.  We encourage owners who are considering rehoming their animal(s) to first think about the following:

  • How long has the animal been with you and what will a change of circumstance mean to them?
  • Does the animal have friends he/she is bonded with that may be separated (we discourage this – animals can form very tight and life-long bonds).
  • If there are issues such as overmating of birds, have you tried hen-aprons or separating the birds in two separate areas or pens?
  • Have you had the animal examined by a veterinarian (in the case of unwanted behavior)?
  • What options have you explored in trying to find a new home for your animal?  We should not be your first line of defense.

Sanctuary vs Animal Shelter

We are a sanctuary with limited space and so cannot be a substitute for the animal shelter.  By its nature, the animal shelter takes in unwanted animals and tries its best to find appropriate homes for the animals.  If you have exhausted all other avenues, you should contact your local shelter; this is what they do.

Our philosophy

We believe that bringing an animal into your life should be a lifetime commitment.  They form attachments to you and to the other animals in your care, and uprooting them can be very stressful on everyone concerned.  We understand that circumstances change for people, such as illness, a forced job move, loss of work, and so on.  But we don’t condone the giving up of animals simply because they are no longer interesting/convenient.  We would much rather help you re-discover the joy of the animal in your care and find resources to help you keep this animal in your life.  If giving up the animal is the only option, we may be able to point you to resources for finding a new home for your animal if it is necessary, but we cannot act as intermediary; you will need to do the footwork.

Animals commonly given up

Roosters

We receive requests almost daily to take in roosters, either because the owners didn’t realize the chicks might grow up to be roosters (“they were all supposed be hens”) and are not allowed roosters in their jurisdiction, or because the roosters have become hard on the hens, or because the roosters have become aggressive.  We have more roosters than hens, and bringing more roosters here would be unfair to the hens; it also requires additional housing which we do not have.  In general, we will not accept any “oopsie roosters” or birds that you simply don’t want anymore.  Please read our essay on “The Problem with Roosters” to understand this very sad and serious problem.  You can try one of your local Facebook farm groups  (an active group is “Maryland Farmers Exchange”) or surrender your rooster to the animal shelter.

Cats

We currently have four cats who consider this farm their retirement.  As much as we love cats, we have our limits:

  • We cannot consider taking in your cat because he is marking in your house (he will mark in our house and barn, too) – check with your vet because he may have a urinary problem.
  • We cannot take in a declawed or indoors-only cat.  All of our cats are farm cats.
  • We can consider taking in a cat if s/he is a proven mouser, but integrating a new cat with our current tribe is a big project and will take some time for us to evaluate.

Pigs

The situation with Potbellied pigs is tragic.  After roosters, the most common animals we are asked to take in are pigs.  We cannot take in any more pigs at this time.  Pigs are labor intensive to care for, need special housing, must eat separately, and integrating them with each other is quite difficult.  Please note the following facts before you even begin to think about getting a pig:

  • All pigs (including farm hogs who grow up to be 1000 pounds) are tiny when born.  They are very cute.  They get very large very fast – don’t get a pig if you are not prepared for this.
  • While we have seen pigs who live in houses and are housetrained, every owner will tell you that it is not easy.  Pigs are farm animals.  If you don’t have a farm, please don’t get a pig.
  • Mini pigs do not exist.  Someone may sell you a “Juliana” or “mini” pig who weighs 20 pounds; within a year this pig will weigh 200 pounds unless you starve it or unless it is is very inbred (to create dwarfism) – which is what many breeders do to keep them small.
  • Zoning is a problem.  Where do you live?  Does your zoning allow you to keep pigs?  They are considered livestock, and most neighborhoods do not allow livestock.  Eventually someone will call animal control and then you have heartbreak on your hands.
  • Pigs live a long time. They can live up to 15-20 years. Can you make a commitment that long?
  • Please don’t buy a pig from a breeder.  There are so many pigs needing homes who are at the animal shelters.  A purchased piglet is very expensive, and chances are the breeder will not take the animal back if you decide you can’t handle it.

 

Animal Admissions

We require the following when considering taking in a new animal at our farm:

  • Species, breed, age, neutered/spayed status.
  • Any health issues to consider.
  • Photographs.
  • Reason animal needs a new home.
  • Contact information for your veterinarian.
  • We greatly appreciate a donation to help in the initial vetting and care of the animal.

If our board of directors determines that we will be able to take in the animal, you will be required to sign a release form and provide any original ownership documents to us.