As a couple we have always been involved in rescuing injured birds and abused animals. When we lived in Auckland, we often worked with bird rescue groups to help transport natives and gave a loving home to a wide variety of animals.
In 2002 we decided to take our passion a step further, and found the perfect site in the hills of Matakana. Our 32 acre property has grazing land to permanently home abused animals, and is bordered by 400 acres of protected bush where we can safely release rehabilitated native birds.
We have our two donkeys, Solomon and Bartholomew, on our header because they were our first rescues. Even before we had opened The Sanctuary we heard from a local donkey rescue group that a home was needed. They moved in the same day that we did, and have been with us ever since. When we were just getting started, we didn’t plan on working with battery hens, but when we heard that they needed somewhere safe where they could rehabilitate and start over, we took them too. We now have about 100 animals in The Sanctuary: two-legged and four-legged, native and exotic, warm and cold-blooded – all getting the care that they deserve.
We work long hours, and we fund the ongoing costs of food and veterinary care ourselves. On arrival our animals require intensive care and lots of TLC, but one of the most rewarding returns for all our hard work is watching a native bird soar away back to its natural life in the wild. Even our permanent residents are continually amazing us. Once they’ve overcome their fear – perceiving us at first as being just more humans to mistreat them – they become gentle, trusting and caring. Animals can teach us a lot about forgiveness and being able to love and trust again.
The Sanctuary is an animal refuge run by Shawn Bishop and Michael Dixon in Matakana, New Zealand. We provide a safe haven for abused and neglected animals, and care for injured or orphaned native birds. A charitable trust has been established for this purpose.