Founded in 2003, Villa Chardonnay is the largest equine and animal sanctuary in Southern California. Our ranch is a forever home for many of the cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, and other animals. Across the country, Villa Chardonnay is known as “their last hope.” Since we were founded, VC has rescued more than 1,000 animals from across the country. VC currently cares for over 270 animals on a daily basis. Our current furry family includes horses, cats, dogs, donkeys, goats, 1 lamb, 2 ducks, 1 turtles and 2 turkeys! As is almost always the case, these animals come to VC emaciated, arthritic, blind, lame, with tumors, cancer, neurological issues, Cushing’s disease or other illnesses. The staff is passionate about saving these abandoned, neglected and abused souls, and providing care as well as preventative programs to improve their quality of life for the rest of their time.
It requires significant financial resources to care for so many animals. The staff and volunteers at VC have learned to do more with less in order to keep the pastures open for so many years. Our team is amazingly dedicated to their jobs and their purpose. For them, this is truly a labor of love and they have sacrificed so that these animals don’t have to.
Being a sanctuary has significantly more challenges than a shelter or adoption agency. The largest one is raising funds from the public. VC does not have the same visibility in the public’s eye that shelters, rescues, and adoption agencies are accustomed to because we are not a department in a municipality or a member of a national association with continual media coverage. In reality, almost everyone knows what an animal shelter is or animal rescue is but if you ask the public what an animal sanctuary is they will either describe a shelter or they will respond that they don’t know exactly. Even with our best attempts at fund-raising and public awareness, this lack of knowledge makes it very difficult to raise funds because most people assume we are funded by local government or a large organization like so many shelters are. As mentioned before, the majority of the people who work at the facility are volunteers who love animals. They are not marketing specialist, outreach gurus or fund-raising superstars. They are people with a passion to ensure that our family of animals receives the care and dignity they deserve. We serve the injured, lame and senior community of animals. We are considered an assisted living and nursing home for animals. There aren’t always dramatic success stories here at our sanctuary. Like in a nursing home for people you will ambulate them and try to keep them active to carry on a higher quality of life. For example, a retired NFL player may not be able to play at the level that he played while in his prime but we aren’t going to euthanize him because he isn’t as successful. It is the same here, not too exciting but it is the love we have to volunteer and give them the love and skilled care to keep them going as long as they have a quality of life. Animals and people both have heart and soul but different bodies. We have to care for them all and treat them with love and respect.