A “Heaven on Earth” for Rescued Farm Animals
Nearly 300 animals are living out their lives in peace at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Dalton. Cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, horses— each one has their own rescue story and is finally receiving the love and care they deserve.
For fifteen years, Indraloka has been an advocate for abused and neglected farm animals. Thousands of creatures have passed through their barns and pastures over the years, and with exciting plans like a new location, local and global collaborations and creative responses to the coronavirus pandemic, the sanctuary is looking forward to an even brighter future.
Every Life Is Sacred
Indra Lahiri created the sanctuary in 2005, but the story starts long before that.
“I’ve been rescuing animals all of my life. As early as I could walk, I was finding little hurt animals and picking them up and bringing them home,” recalled Indra Lahiri, founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary.
She started focusing on saving farm animals in the late ‘90s, when she joined a group for a horse rescue. As they retrieved the horses, they happened to find a pig in the barn too. No one knew what to do. Lahiri was shocked when some members of the group joked that they were going to eat it.
“I didn’t see what the difference was. Why would we rescue a horse and kill a pig?” she said.
Lahiri realized that farm animals desperately needed a voice. Many organizations were saving dogs and cats, but abused and neglected farm animals seemed to have nowhere to turn.
She ended up taking the pig home with her that day. From there, she continued rescuing and caring for at-risk farm animals at her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. However, she needed more space if she was going to keep saving lives.
She purchased a 30-acre property in Mehoopany, which served as the original location for Indraloka Animal Sanctuary. The name means “heaven of the gods” in Sanskrit, and sanctuary is certainly a paradise for the animals, not to mention a calming, peaceful place for all of the humans who volunteer and visit.
Animals on the Move
The sanctuary is gradually relocating to their new facility in Dalton.
The Mehoopany property served as an excellent starting point, but the sanctuary knew they needed a more spacious, accessible location. In 2017, they found the perfect opportunity at a 100-acre farm in Dalton. Located just 15 minutes from Scranton, it’s easy to reach, but still provides a quiet, countryside setting for the animals.
Indraloka is currently in the process of moving the animals to their new home. The move is almost complete—the sanctuary needs about $200,000 to bring over the rest of the animals. It’s been tough since they had to cancel their spring and summer fundraiser events, but they’re hoping to raise enough donations to finish by the end of the summer.
Meet the Animals
Every animal has a name and a story.
The sanctuary is full of incredible survivor stories. Stop by the pig’s wallow, and you’ll find loving souls like Chandra, who was found injured along the Morgan Highway, and Eddie Traffic, who leapt from a truck on Interstate 80. Head out to the pastures, and you’ll meet cows like Mookie and Ogie, who were saved when they were just calves. Chickens rescued from factory farms peck about peacefully in the grass.
Just this spring, an alpaca named Sandy won people’s hearts. A humane police officer found her lying in the mud, unable to stand. The team at Indraloka rushed her to the animal hospital, and even after she was discharged, she required 24-hour care for weeks.
“She has this personality that just shines through, and she wanted to live so desperately. Despite all that she’d been through, she trusted us, and she allowed us to help her,” said Lahiri.
Sandy’s still on the mend, but she’s now walking, grazing and meeting plenty of friends. You can follow her recovery on social media and find other incredible stories through the sanctuary’s blog, podcast and videos.
Creative Approaches to COVID-19
Indraloka brings the animals to the people virtually.
Normally, the sanctuary hosts tours, events and children’s programs, but the coronavirus pandemic has inspired them to come up with new ways to connect with the community. Their online children’s programs have been especially popular, such as the Animal Pen Pal Program where kids can write letters to the animals (and receive a special response in return). The program gained attention worldwide with features in The Washington Post and The Hindu, India’s largest English-speaking newspaper.
Indraloka has also created Hopeful Heroes Online, a series of video lessons for kids, and Liberation Meditation, a series of video meditations to help people stay calm and grounded in the midst of the pandemic. Throughout the closure, they offered virtual tours through Goat-2-Meeting.
The sanctuary is starting to reopen on a small scale. They recently restarted their emotional support programs, where therapists bring children to the sanctuary to spend time with the animals. They’re hoping to start small-group tours again soon.
Forming Local and Global Partnerships
Indraloka stands with other rescue groups across NEPA and around the world.
Indraloka realizes that they can only save so many animals. That’s why they help and support other sanctuaries and rescue groups too. The sanctuary is part of the NEPA Animal Welfare Collective, a group of animal shelters and rescue groups that have come together under the Scranton Area Community Foundation.
The collective realized that they all struggled with a shortage of veterinarians in the area. They sometimes had to drive hours to find an available vet, so Indraloka stepped up to offer a solution. The sanctuary recently decided that they will hire a veterinarian to not only help the animals at Indraloka, but also provide discounted services to the other nonprofits in the collective.
The sanctuary also has a global reach with regular speaking sessions at the International Animal Rights Conference. Lahiri also founded the Global Coalition of Farm Sanctuaries, which connects groups across the world to help and support one another. They are currently working on creating an app to streamline the placement of rescued farm animals.
Fostering a Community of Compassion
Find out how you can help Indraloka Animal Sanctuary.
Indraloka has brought so many animals and people together, inspiring kindness and respect for all living things. They’re grateful that the NEPA community has been there every step of the way.
“I love the small-town atmosphere. I love that if we don’t all know each other, we all know somebody who does. Whenever you need a hand, there’s somebody there reaching out, and that really is a beautiful thing that’s unique to this area,” said Lahiri.
The sanctuary’s most urgent need is to raise funds to move the rest of the animals to the new facility. The goal is within reach, and donations can help them make sure all the animals are settled by the end of the summer.
Photos provided by Johnny Braz, Creative Director of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary.
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