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Free To Be Me Sanctuary gives vulnerable animals a loving home

Even though Louanne Shropshire and her team cannot save every animal in need, her hope is to inspire others to do the same by following her example.
One of the sanctuary's elderly donkeys is given a reassuring hug by Casper (right), who works hard to keep the sanctuary in good order.

MOOSE JAW — In a world where abandoned, sick, and elderly animals often face uncertain futures, one local woman continues to do everything she can to offer more than 50 four-legged friends a compassionate sanctuary and a second lease on life.

The Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary is located just west of town and offers these animals a space to heal. The sanctuary’s owner, Louanne Shropshire, has dedicated her life to providing a sense of normalcy for her ever-expanding family.

“Our goal is just to make sure that we can take care of the animals that come to us,” Shropshire explained. “We actually give them a fear-free life and we just want them to be healthy and happy.”

The sanctuary hosts tours on a near-daily basis – weather permitting – from around 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Following this, the animals are given some quiet time as volunteers begin their daily chore regimen for the farm’s chickens, goats, pigs, llamas, ostriches – and many other animals of seemingly every description.

Many of these animals arrived when their previous owners made a call asking if Shropshire would be able to accommodate them in her flock. If she’s able to accommodate the animal financially, has the space, and if she’s able to manage the animal’s condition, she said she’ll gladly say yes.

She also pointed out that there’s the odd time when this just isn’t feasible.

“We’ve had a few cases where… (for instance) somebody brought us a cow with no legs,” she said. “Goodness. You can’t actually take care of an animal like that in Saskatchewan, especially come wintertime.”

The sanctuary itself may only have limited veterinarian capacities, but Shropshire works in close partnership with the Moose Jaw Animal Clinic to provide ongoing care for her animals.

“They’re really good and Dr. Ram Changar is amazing,” she said. “He’ll come out and help us. If he doesn’t know what to do, he’ll figure it out. We really rely on him.”

Although the sanctuary is currently doing alright, Shropshire said she’s severely limited in her outreach by two factors: the number of available volunteers and funding.

Anyone can volunteer at the sanctuary, and duties range from cleaning pens to cuddling with adorable kittens, chicks, and other baby animals – although Shropshire did note that this latter duty comes after the less glorious tasks are completed.

She’s also open to any local organizations who can help set up fundraising campaigns and pointed to Moose Jaw’s Peavey Mart who helped with the effort last year and the Moose Jaw Co-op who provides ongoing feed for the animals.

“If there was somebody who knows how to do some fundraising, that would help a lot because that fundraising requires a lot of time,” she said.

Even though Shropshire and her team cannot save every animal in need, her hope is to inspire others to do the same by following her example.

“My son said to me, ‘Mom, what are you doing? You cannot save the world,’” she recalled. “And I said, ‘No, but we can save the animals in our little part of the world. So that’s what we do.’

“Be kind to animals,” Shropshire concluded. “They have feelings and emotions, and they look up to us to set the standards.”

To volunteer your time, book a tour, or to learn more about the sanctuary, visit ‘Free to be Me’ on Facebook or call 306-684-2231.

The sanctuary is located approximately 6.8 kilometres west of Moose Jaw along Caribou Street West and is just past 32nd Avenue Southwest.


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