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Dancing with Pigs to Save a Sanctuary


Kate Waghorn and Coces Verkehrsschild at the Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary are donning their finest op-shop ball gowns and hoofing it up with Gherkin the pig to raise funds for the Ōtaki-based haven for rescued animals.

With over 250 hungry mouths to feed, the registered charity consumes small mountains of haybales, pellets, straw and complementary feed every week. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the sanctuary's Opportunity for Animals fundraising charity stores closed their doors for over two months, and the customers are only starting to return now. Funds are tight and it’s getting urgent. Unless the sanctuary can raise a desperately needed $10,000 to tide their cherished rescued animals over until spring, the Black Sheep is in dire straits.

This is no ordinary fundraiser, however. ‘We realise times are tough for all our communities,’ Verkehrsschild explains. ‘So we wanted to give back to our supporters. When we reach a milestone on the way to our ultimate goal, we will entertain you with some creative animal care and delight, and hopefully put a smile on your face!’

There’s something to delight everyone, with livestreamed pony walks, cockatoo games, goat feeding, an animal look-alike competition, and a promise to paddle in the pig wallow. ‘It’ll have to be a fine day for that one,’ Coces comments. On reaching $10,000 the caretakers will dress in formal ballgowns and waltz through the goat paddocks. The big question is - will any ballgown be left intact?

The cute and poignant animal moments will be shared online. Anything is considered, providing it’s animal friendly, and the Black Sheep welcomes creative suggestions. Verkehrsschild encourages supporters to ‘tell us what you want to see and we might just make it happen!’ Donations in kind are also sought – from building nails, to plywood and gumboots. ‘We’d also just be really grateful if people share the fundraiser link with their friends and networks.’

Everyone is warmly invited to follow progress with the fundraiser, as the sanctuary caretakers kick up their heels and dance with the pigs:

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