Article By Taryn Szedlak
Carrie Shogan and her family went vegan instantly when she made a connection with a pig named Momma. She adopted Momma and her two daughters from a breeder. At the time, she wasn’t aware all three pigs were pregnant and the breeder was “dumping her stock”.
Before they knew it, 3 pigs became 18! Carrie considered selling the babies, but says every time she went near Momma, she could see how terrified she was about having another baby stolen from her. That’s when it clicked.
From that day on, Carrie made a promise to Momma that she would never be apart from her family. She credits Momma for her family’s transition into veganism and is thankful to her every day.
“She showed us with her beautiful, expressive eyes that she wanted the same things as us: to be safe and together with her family”, Carrie says.
Since going vegan, Carrie has learned that she is here for the animals. She lives for them and is vegan because the strong protect the weak. She wants non-vegans to know “it’s so much better here. You begin to heal in ways you didn’t even realize you were broken”.
One of the most memorable rescues for Little OinkBank Pig Sanctuary was on February 10, 2019, when her husband Ron and daughter Penny drove in a blizzard to Qualicum Beach with no snow tires to rescue two pigs, a sister and brother named Olive and Herschell.
Olive had lost a litter of piglets the previous October as they were without shelter. Carrie recalls “the neighbour was tossing them dog food when they remembered, but there was no other nutrition. They got home late that night and by the same time the next night, Olive was giving birth”. Unfortunately, only one of the five babies survived. They named him Joaquin.
She is happy to report they still have Joaquin and he is the spitting image of his mom. Herschell is also doing well and the family is still together.
Carrie did not set out to start a sanctuary. But little OinkBank Pig Sanctuary in Oliver, BC is now a safe haven for 48 pigs of both large and small breeds, four cows rescued from the dairy industry, three sheep, two goats, two ducks, two chickens, and some pups and kittens.
Luckily, Carrie had an extensive background in stable management and had old infrastructure available from her horse-riding days. She also grew up in a vet clinic and had an amazing pig vet. Carrie credits the other element of success to her three adult daughters and her mother that help Carrie and her husband Ron with the day-to-day work.
“We are so excited to have a unique opportunity here with the way the sanctuary is set up. All of our pigs are integrated, so they have a huge opportunity to roam and just be pigs”, says Carrie. But it wasn’t always like that. At their old acreage they had supplies, but the property and supplies were in a state of disrepair. After searching for 3 years they are now settled on a better property and are planning to have a much more animal-centric set up in their future.
For people looking at starting their own sanctuary, she suggests volunteering for at least one year at an established sanctuary before starting one. Also be sure to have a property, vet and farrier lined up in advance, and do not expect or be dependent on volunteers or donations. “Be completely self-sufficient, because most of the time you will need to be”.
Carrie says funding is a big hurdle. While it helps that they own their property, there are always expenses. “We need to buy a new stock trailer and our truck is very old. We need to make a huge improvement to fencing, and feeding over 70 mouths and keeping them healthy daily,” says Carrie. And amidst all of it there is the knowledge that she can’t save everyone.
One of the ways Carrie and her team power through the challenges of running a sanctuary is in building community with like-minded support. “I admire Jeanne at The Alice Sanctuary’s ability to find her spirituality and guide folks through their walls to find their centre of compassion. I admire Michelle at Home for Hooves’ ability to make massive projects happen. I admire Janice at Hearts on Noses for persevering through all these years and wearing her heart so bravely on her sleeve, and I admire Sarien with PEACE-Canada’s ability to just do it. All of it,” says Carrie.
“I have often said that I will never again know what it feels like to have an unbroken heartbeat in my chest. There is so much love surrounding us from these amazing companions, however, so we are surrounded by just incredible energy. Every day is a joy. We are grateful,” Carrie says.