A local animal sanctuary is giving older pets and overlooked animals a place to call home. They won’t be adopted, but instead, will live out the rest of their lives at Kindred Spirits in Santa Fe.
Ulla Pedersen founded Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary. She grew up surrounded by animals on a farm in Denmark and later in life, she helped others as a nurse.
“I took for granted for many years that there were no problems for the elderly animals,“ said Pedersen. “But I learned, little by little, that people were telling me that were abandoned and had problems staying in the homes and people caring for them.“
Now in retirement, she says she found a way to combine both passions. “We have about 22 very old dogs, three old horses, and we have a bunch of poultry,“ said Pedersen.
Some are blind, some are deaf and some are just older, but each one is given a final, forever home with Pedersen. “I felt this is something I could do and wanted to do with my home and my property,“ said Pedersen.
No matter what circumstances bring them to Kindred Spirits or how long they stay, each one is given the care and support they need in their final days or years. “Some are with us for maybe just three days, three weeks, three years, we never know,“ said Pedersen. “It’s up to us to find what will help them be as well as possible in whatever short time they’re with us.“
Every animal that comes in lives out their final days with peace and rest, rather than change. They even have an organized flow of their day, including the very important afternoon siestas at 1 p.m.
“Each one of our animals is really a special needs and it’s up to us to find what will help them be as well as possible in whatever short time they’re with us. Our mission is elder care and hospice,“ said Pedersen. “These old folks here will end their lives here and this is their home. They don’t go one more place, we don’t adopt out.“
She says many of the senior animals that have come in were surrendered by their families.“We hear all the time, ‘Oh, this was the horse that saw my daughter through difficult teen years,’ or, ‘This was the dog that saw me through the divorce.’ And yet, when it comes to the point of them really needing help in their old age, they are somehow, ‘Too bad, but they have to go,’“ said Pedersen.
She usually takes in senior animals from area shelters, but she hopes to inspire others to not give up on their elderly, furry family members. “We want to inspire people that have animals to care for them all the way through their lives,“ said Pedersen. “And have that experience themselves. Don’t be afraid of having tears.“
When the time comes, and they cross the rainbow bridge, each one is cremated and the ashes, along with wildflower seeds, are buried in the memorial garden, bringing new life. “I hold them and it’s all done in a loving and peaceful manner. Their bodies are cremated and the ashes come back, and we’re sitting in the memorial yard right now,“ said Pedersen. “The ashes return to the land, and we have new beings created.“
Though giving end-of-life care for animals can be sad and hard, Pedersen says it would be much harder if she did nothing at all for them. “It is sad, I miss them too, but you know, overriding that, is really the blessing of being able to help,“ said Pedersen. “It would be much harder to sit back, knowing that I didn’t help somebody. That would be much, much harder.“
As with any non-profit, Kindred Spirits relies on volunteers. After a trial period, they are asked to commit for at least a year to give stability to the animals. They are also in great need of a handyman.
Donations are always welcome, as well. They ask if you’re able to give, to do so financially, as it helps with funding the animals’ special diets and specific needs of the sanctuary. If you are able to help as a volunteer or financially, you can reach them online or call 505-471-5366.