So many animals out there need a loving home, and one couple decided to help out as many as they could. What started with a dog and pig at first, turned into an entire animal sanctuary, where they welcome animals of all kinds with open arms.

Here is their incredible story.

“We started in downtown Cleveland, Ohio on a 0.1-acre lot, and there was really no intention behind having a mini farm,” Carly said. “We started with a pig and a dog, and I just wanted way too many animals that I can fit in this small area.”

She said that with her husband’s organizational skills, he made it work for them with the animals she wanted. After renovating the space and making it animal-friendly, she said their pig Poppy really seemed to enjoy it. They also have a pitbull they absolutely adore named Luna. Carly says people love visiting their quaint farm and watching the animals roam free.

“Then we got chickens, and then we got too many chickens,” Carly jokingly said.

They don’t have quite as many chickens anymore, they have plans to adopt more as their homestead grows. Poppy and the chickens spend a lot of time together, and sometimes the chickens even sit on the pig’s back. Carly wanted to have a pig because of their sweet, intelligent nature, and she enjoys showing this side of Poppy to others.

Carly says of Poppy, “If you’re not your authentic self, and you’re stressed and in a bad mood, she senses it, and she knows how to let you know that that’s not right or she needs you to be in a better headspace before interacting with her.”

“She’s definitely got an attitude, she’s a little defiant, and that’s something I love about pigs is how intelligent they are.”

Important things to know about pigs if you want to adopt one

Carly says many people think pigs stay really small and you can fit them in your purse. However, according to The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, even mini pigs can weigh up to 150 pounds when fully grown! Any pig that weighs under 350 pounds is classified as a mini pig. So, when people adopt mini pigs, they often have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.

Standard farm pigs can weigh over 700 pounds and measure up to 6ft in length. As you can imagine, pigs need lots of room outdoors to explore and play. Many people adopt them thinking they will be similar to a dog, but they have different needs. Pigs don’t adapt well to indoor living since they enjoy rooting through things with their snout and manipulating objects.

Without access to the outdoors or stimulating toys and games, the pig will become bored and start messing up the house. They may tear through cupboards and furniture or knock over breakable items.

Even outdoors, pigs need special accommodations to ensure their health and safety. Since they sunburn easily and have sensitive skin, pigs require shelter from cold and hot temperatures. Pigs don’t sweat and are prone to parasites and insect bites. To protect their skin and help them stay cool, they need a shallow mud pit to roll around in.

Because of the extensive care these animals need, it leads to many abandoned or mistreated pigs that need rehoming. Carly also says they require a lot of work and attention. Any animal you adopt will need adequate love, care, and socialization, so it’s important to do your research beforehand.

What made Carly want to adopt so many animals

Carly has been an animal lover all her life. Growing up, she would even find insects around her neighborhood and give them makeshift homes. She also adopted stray dogs as she got older, and the calling to help animals never went away. It only got stronger.

Carly wanted to help as many animals as possible, and eventually turned her attention to pigs. When she got Poppy, a Julianna pig, in 2013, she dedicated much of her time to caring for her. When family and friends found out about the pig, Carly got inspired to share more about her on social media.

She developed a deep interest in learning about how animals communicate, so she eventually sought out animal behaviorists. Carly just wanted to soak up all the information she could about pigs, and she became an outspoken animal advocate. When she met her husband Andrew in 2016, he didn’t feel completely on board with rescuing tons of animals. However, after they adopted their pitbull Luna from a local shelter, he immediately fell in love.

After that, he too wanted to learn all he could about animals. Together, they took in many different types of animals in Ohio City. They’re currently working with a team to find the ideal property and connections in order to continue building their homestead.

Carly says that one of the best things about adopting animals is watching them grow and thrive. If they can’t adopt them, they also enjoy looking for a forever home for animals. When an animal is given a second chance after being neglected or seen as too aggressive, it reminds Carly why she advocates for animals.

“A lot of these farm animals are misunderstood; they’re so intelligent, and we just love them. We have so much fun with it, “Carly says.

Final thoughts: This couple made it their mission to start their animal sanctuary

While not everyone can buy land and open a sanctuary for animals, Carly and Andrew saw it as a calling. They want to save as many animals as they can, and have gotten off to a great start. They take in abused, neglected, or personally surrendered animals and provide long-term pet care and shelter.

If you’d like to read more about their mission or donate to help their animal sanctuary, please feel free to do so.