Article By Kali Nelson
“I admire everyone who does what is right for the animals, even when that comes at a heavy personal cost.”
Even as a child, Ali Valentine’s connection to animals was a big part of her life. She believed animals deserve better, and as a result, she was raised vegetarian. Later in life, she cut out eggs and dairy for health reasons and ended up feeling amazing. “That led to me researching why I felt so much better – it was then a friend suggested visiting a sanctuary, and the rest is history.”
Before that, Ali explains that all her experiences with farmed animals were within the context of places like petting zoos and agricultural fairs. “It wasn’t until I visited a sanctuary that I realized how complex each individual was. I was enamoured by the cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and birds.”
“Regular volunteering turned into volunteer employment, and after several years immersed in sanctuary, I decided to sell my house in the city and purchase a modest, eight-acre rural property.” With that purchase, Ali founded GLO Farm Sanctuary and began offering a safe and loving home to farmed animals. Located in East Garafraxa, Ontario, the sanctuary operates using ethical veganism, anti-speciesist ideology, and GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) standards.
“We are focused on becoming the premier sanctuary in Ontario. We are dedicated to making sure that we are experts (or working with experts) to ensure that the residents here have their social, physical, and emotional needs met or exceeded.” Ali says they also plan on becoming a registered charity. “Our goal is to be the ones that other sanctuaries model themselves after and seek guidance to best serve the animals.”
Ali shares that one of the most challenging parts of the job is saying no to the animals she can’t take on. “Saying no over and over knowing that every time you say no, someone loses their life.” She focuses on providing the absolute best standard of care for the animals she is able to offer sanctuary.
Another painful part of running a sanctuary is coping with the grief of losing animals while also remaining a caregiver to the ones who still need her. “I could never put into words the heaviness that comes with burying a friend and having to get back to ‘business as usual.’”
“One thing that I still find is lacking in the sanctuary movement is land management and appropriate space per animal.” Ali explains that the pressure to save as many animals as possible has sanctuaries filled to max capacity. “This comes at a high cost to the animals, and not just a monetary cost. Overcrowding impacts the land, which in turn impacts the physical health of the animals. I would have done more research on land management if I could do it over again.”
For those interested in starting their own sanctuary, Ali advises writing a mandate on day one and sticking to it. “Make sure every decision ties back to your mandate. If you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, it is so easy to get ahead of yourself and make mistakes, which hurts the animals. Work with and learn from a variety of people, including veterinarians, farmers (yes – farmers!), and business professionals. Success should be measured on how well you are able to meet and exceed the needs of your residents, and this can only be done with time and research.”
GLO’s most memorable rescue so far has been their sweet pig named Pixie. “She came to us from a horrific abuse/neglect case. For approximately six years she was morbidly obese, fat-blind, and immobile. Her life was confined in an urban apartment laying in her own urine. As such, her skin was burned and she had never had her hooves done, causing them to curl and grow back into her feet.”
With the devotion from the team at GLO, Pixie is on the mend. “Today, she is a mover and a shaker. She doesn’t let her vision impairment stop her from exploring every inch of the sanctuary, and she knows exactly where the apple trees are!”
Now having been vegan for ten years, Ali says the deep principles were rooted in her after her first visit to a farmed animal sanctuary. When asked what she’d like people who are not vegan to know, Ali shared: “The love and compassion you show to your parents, siblings, children, cats, dogs, and guinea pigs can and should be extended to all living beings. When we choose love and reject violence, only good will come.”
Since going vegan, one of the important things Ali’s learned is, “that love will always win. It may lose a few battles here and there, but it will always win the war.”
To get a special, behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of GLO and support the sanctuary’s mission, you can sign up for their Patreon.