Families looking for a close encounter with animals may want to check out the “Barnyard Bash” at the Home Sweet Home Animal Rescue in Wesley Chapel.
Children and adults, alike, can meet Arnold the Pig, Ollie the Goose, Effie the Goat and other animals at the event on Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the rescue, 4129 Fox Ridge Blvd., in Wesley Chapel.
Besides getting a chance to meet the animals, there will be an education tent, food, a bounce house, games and other activities.
Those wanting to visit the barnyard will be required to wear sneakers or other close-toed shoes.
“We did this last year, and we had a ball,” said Valerie Burke, the founder of Home Sweet Home Animal Rescue.
About 100 people turned out and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, said Burke, who said her love for animals began when she was “knee-high to a grasshopper” and has stayed with her for life.
Last year, she said, “we had kids face-painting kids,” she said, which was fun for the kids and fun for adults to watch.
Burke began the barnyard rescue operation because she saw a need for it.
It began with one injured animal.
“One thing led to another,” Burke said. “People would bring me injured animals and sick animals, from as far away as the Panhandle. I’ve had several come from Gainesville.
“We do a lot of special needs animals here,” she said. Without the rescue operation, many of the animals would be euthanized, Burke said.
“One of our ducks is missing half her bill. I have a parrot missing his leg. Some are missing toes,” she said. “We try to make it comfortable for them.”
Currently, she has 40 ducks, three geese, seven goats, a pig, 20 or so chickens and some parrots.
They come to her in different ways.
Oliver, also known as Ollie, is her Chinese goose. He was dropped off at a lawyer’s office, off Westshore Boulevard in Tampa.
Ollie’s girlfriend, Greta, an African goose, was dumped with her mate in Safety Harbor. Her mate was killed by a predator.
“So, she came here; her and Ollie are best friends,” Walker said.
Harley, one of the ducks, is named for the Harley-Davidson dealership in Brandon that found her.
Burke said she has been the recipient of animals that were starved nearly to death, or were abandoned at apartment complexes.
“We take in the ones that are the forgotten ones,” she said.
The barnyard bash is a way for people to have fun, but also develop a greater understanding of animals, Burke said.
And, while visitors to the Barnyard Bash are invited to get closer to the animals, they are not permitted to chase them, Burke said.
“This isn’t a petting zoo. It’s all about respect. This is their home, so you have to respect them in their home. If they come up to you, great. If they don’t, well, they don’t,” Burke said.
She is looking forward to the event.
She’s confident that the adults and children will have a good time.
Plus, she added, “I’m going to have a great time.”
Barnyard Bash Family Event
Where: Home Sweet Home Animal Rescue, 4129 Fox Ridge Blvd., in Wesley Chapel
When: Nov. 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Cost: Free event, but donations are accepted.
Details: Kids and adults can meet barnyard animals, learn about caring for animals, enjoy games and refreshments. There will be take-aways, a bounce house, an education tent, an opportunity to take pictures, ask and answer questions, and win prizes. Sneakers or close-toed shoes are required in the barnyard.
Learn ways you can help by visiting HSHARTampa.org.
Published November 8, 2017