Down to Earth

A Safe Haven: Saving Animals During Coronavirus Crisis

A cow, a chicken, a rural sanctuary, and a local non-profit have come together for an amazing animal rescue story that shows how one person can make a difference

NBC Universal, Inc.

Near the end of a long dirt road in Boulevard, there’s another dirt road that leads to Libby Lou’s Safe Haven. This small cow sanctuary has a new addition, a 10-week old bull cow named Auggie Norman.

“He arrived at midnight at my house with his BFF Loretta Lynn, the chicken,” said Lori Biewen, the founder of the Libby Lou's.

Auggie Norman and Loretta Lynne do everything together. A cow and a chicken might seem like a strange pairing, but Biewen said that’s not the case.

"Animals are not like people they don’t judge. They don’t see differences they just see kindness and friendship,” Biewen said.

It’s a beautiful friendship with a terrible back story. Biewen said Auggie Norman, "was facing not a good end, let’s just put it that way.”

Auggie Norman was born on a northern California dairy farm, where according to Biewen it's not a good situation for a young male cow.

"Female calves are kept alive, male calves have no use so they are discarded,” she said.

Fortunately, animal activists rescued Auggie from the dairy farm and took him to a foster home, where he bonded with Loretta Lynn. A few weeks later, the cow and the chicken were transported to their forever home at Libby Lou’s and added to the sanctuary’s animal population, which is now at 29 animals, including cats and dogs.

Biewen takes care of all these cows pretty much by herself. It costs about $40,000 a year to run Libby Lou’s and it’s fully funded by donations.

“Every penny that comes into Libby Lou's goes to the animals," she said.

Unfortunately, during the pandemic, all that money dried up. No sanctuary tours, no visitors, no fundraising.  

“Covid turned our world upside down, fundraising is hard in a good year but in a Covid year where people have lost jobs and are struggling, they don’t have extra money that they might want to normally donate, they can’t, they have to save it for bills and groceries," Biewen said.

To help make it through this tough time, Lori found a life-line in Dr. Annie Petersen.

“Lori is the perfect example of the human-animal bond and why we do what we do,” Petersen tells NBC 7.

Petersen created Animal Bond Academy, a digital outreach effort to raise awareness and funds for San Diego’s small sanctuaries during the pandemic.

"These animals have saved so many people's lives and this is just a great way to then turn around and help them have the happiest lives they could possibly have,” Petersen said.

Both Petersen and Biewen say small sanctuaries are all about the concept that one person can make a difference.

"It makes you think I’m going to get off my butt and get out there and make a difference. I am not going to change the world, but I am changing the life of one or two animals, you'd better believe it," Biewen said.

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