Hidden Acres Animal Sanctuary (HAAS) in Canton spreads hope, healing and love to rescue farm animals and human hearts. If you missed the first part of my interview with Sarah Carney of HAAS last month, you can read it at aroundacworthmagazine.com. Learn more at hiddenacresanimalsanctuary.org.
Tell us about farm animals as therapy animals.
We work with each and every animal on the farm, providing them with exceptional care and love. We then help pay this forward by working with our rescues to provide animal therapy to those who need it most.
We work with Cherokee County’s special-needs residents and seniors. The transformations we have witnessed have been life-changing. We work with a 14-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy. When she first came to the farm, her parents couldn’t believe how her muscles relaxed in the presence of the animals. Lying a bunny across her heart brought such calm. She feeds the animals with her feet, and it is an incredibly therapeutic experience for her.
Our Youth Empowerment program started by bringing families who had lost a child to suicide to the farm. The Core Community Empowerment School has realized how empowering animals are and brings 15 to 20 self-harming and troubled youth here to do a weekly service project and have animal immersion time. We take goats on leashes to senior centers.
The farm has a designated animal rehabilitation and care team. This group of volunteers is assigned four animals apiece that they connect with every week and take into the community to do good. Ask any of the volunteers, and they will tell you that their lives have also been completely transformed working with these animals.
Is there a story that you like to tell?
This farm was built to provide sanctuary to farm animals. I have always felt that animals are strong, powerful healers. The therapy program actually started during COVID. My grandmother was my favorite person in the world. COVID was a terrible thing for the elderly in our community. Senior facilities were completely locked down, and families could not visit. The elderly lost so much interaction with the outside world and loved ones.
When these lockdowns started happening, I took one of my goats and trained him to walk on a leash. I sent him with a volunteer who works at one of the local memory-care centers, and the goat spent a large part of the day interacting with the patients. The feedback about the transformation among the memory-care patients during the goat’s visits was incredible. The therapy program grew from there.
Can people visit the farm?
We do not have a paid staff, and we are all volunteers here. There is no public access to HAAS. We do, however, have events. We have goat yoga and farm tours, as well as a private-event space. You can sign up for these events on our website. All proceeds go straight toward caring for the animals. We also have apartments on the farm, The Goat Inn and The Horse Inn, which have been voted Atlanta’s Top Airbnb Experience.
These animals are at Cobb County Animal Services, waiting for homes.
This dog’s name is Blanche. She is a medium-size gray dog who came to the shelter as a stray. She is a very calm dog who seems to just want to relax. She is very easygoing and would be a good companion. This is the most docile bully-breed I have ever met, and she really could use some affection.
This cat’s name is Rocket. He is a 5-year-old stray. He loves to be held and is a very sweet cat. He has very long legs and seems to like people a lot. I know that he would really like a home.