Pat Mitchell is the president of the Elizabeth H. Brown Humane Society, a small animal rescue in the tiny town of Victory run by volunteers, mostly out of their own homes.
"There are 15 rabbits, llama, seven goats, Charlie, two miniature horses, the rooster and nine chickens. And two alpacas at my house because they don't do well down here," Mitchell said.
The shelter's new location is a house and barn that was bought in 2010 at a foreclosure sale-- plenty of space for the farm animals to roam. And the number of animals only seems to grow.
"I think the thing I hear the most is it grew up, and they are disposable, they grew up," Mitchell said.
Mitchell credits work done by the Caledonia County work camp in St Johnsbury for helping to fix the place up, build fencing and even an outdoor pen for the rabbits. But even with the help, money was scarce.
"When we purchased the property it became obvious the donations had dwindled to nothing because people were having a hard time taking care of themselves," Mitchell said.
That is when Mitchell got the idea to rent out the house on the property as a way to raise money for the shelter.
"It's not the ideal vacation for everybody, but for somebody like you and me it might be!" Mitchell said.
And the idea of being able to take a week away from it all and also help the animals was just perfect for this week's renters, the Smiths from St Johnsbury.
"That is our main reason, to get away knowing we are helping the animals. That's the biggest thing for us, we are big time animal people," Mary Smith said.
The rental price is $150 a day, pets, of course, are welcome. But the shelter president is willing to listen to all offers, because the shelter spends about $300-$500 a month for feed, shavings and vet bills, and that does not include the 1,000 bales of hay needed each year.
Mitchell says she gets asked all the time why do you bother doing this? Well, two alpacas are two examples. She said by the time the alpacas arrived they were so badly malnourished; the vet told her they would not live. Mitchell vowed if they did live, she would take care of them forever. They are not up for adoption. They are used to educate visitors and volunteers about the serious commitment of owning a pet-- any pet.
"If we can only teach this generation, these kids, that animals are not disposable, maybe there won't be a need for places like this," Mitchell said.
The house is rented out for this week and a week in October. It is hoped more people will become interested in booking some time.
Mitchell says the rooster does crow and has a bit of an attitude problem, but the Smiths said they did not mind the rooster at all.
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