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Port Perry sanctuary gives animals new lease on life

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Neglected animals don't always have the opportunity for a second chance at life, but a couple is hoping their Pegasus Animal Sanctuary will help with the growing need in the region. Aaron Streck has the story.

Neglected animals don’t always have the opportunity for a second chance at life. But one couple is hoping their new animal sanctuary will help with the growing need in the region.

Their love for animals has grown into a massive endeavor as Jack and Rita Hurst founded Pegasus Animal Sanctuary just south of Port Perry.

It’s been a dream for years, that officially opened mid-June with two pigs.

“Bert and Ernie were our first step almost six months ago when Durham police and Whitby Animal Control seized these animals that had been abandoned in a garage,” said Jack, Pegasus Animal Sanctuary co-Founder and owner.

It’s been a steep learning curve for the semi-retired couple but one they are tackling head-on.

“Do we sit in front of a TV? Do we go on cruises? Which we’ve done that, we’ve travelled everywhere, or do we do something that feels good? We’re learning and I think we’re going to love it,” said Rita.

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“It has been overwhelming, and overwhelming in the perspective as there’s so much to do. We count on volunteers,” Jack said.

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Wildlife experts warn public about kidnapping baby animals

Right now, the sanctuary has about 10 to 15 volunteers including Casey Cunningham. She’s volunteered at animal sanctuaries around the world, and at Pegasus, she’s helping by planting a garden.

“We decided to plant beans and lettuce because pigs are kind of picky eaters, so we just chose things that they like and I want to teach Rita and Jack how to grow,” said Cunningham.

Besides Bert and Ernie, the couple is caring for a pair of ducks. They want to take in more animals but they just don’t have the right infrastructure in place at the moment.

“We have had calls for cows — it’s mostly farm animals that need us. We can’t take them until we get our fence built,” said Rita.

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While there have been growing pains, the Hursts have been astonished by the amount of support they receive from around the region. It’s something they will continue to rely on as the sanctuary grows.

“It’s a lot of work but gratifying,” said Rita.

“Saving just one animal won’t change the world but it will surely change the world for that one animal,” said Jack.

READ MORE: Animal advocacy groups warn against the danger of leaving pets in hot vehicles