Unique Colo. shelter survives crisis
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER, Colorado ” The emus, turkeys, pigs, horses, peacocks and other animals that live at the Creative Acres sanctuary will get to stay home for the holidays ” and longer.
Maxine Mager, who runs the 44-acre free-roam shelter about 40 miles northeast of Denver, got a loan to keep her 300 or so charges from being uprooted. They had faced moving because the property was in foreclosure.
Mager, who founded the shelter about 20 years ago, learned earlier this year that she had to raise more than $350,000.
Mager said donations she received from across the country when her plight was publicized will help her cover the down payment, and the loan is set to close Jan. 9.
“They’re going to be able to stay there,” said John Carver, a Denver attorney representing Mager. He said the lender isn’t requiring any personal guarantors on the loan.
Mager’s one-woman operation has faced uncertainty before. Five years ago, she had to scramble to find a place for her menagerie after losing a court fight over the lease on her original sanctuary site near Brighton. A $480,000 judgment against her from the dispute over the land prevented her from refinancing her property.
A blizzard and heavy snows that walloped eastern Colorado last December and January kept Mager from doing her normal fundraising and outreach. She worked days and nights shoveling out the animals, getting food to them and repairing storm-battered fences, doors and equipment.
Mager is digging out again after last week’s snows. “One thing I worry about is making it through the winter,” she said.
Volunteers help her cope. A woman who has a big truck hauls feed and hay for her. Mager’s pickup was repossessed.
Many of Mager’s animals were abandoned or left behind when people died. Some were abused or dumped when they became troublesome, including a sheep considered too aggressive. Mager figured out the sheep ran into people because it was blind.
Sheriff’s deputies brought her an emu found wandering around Barr Lake State Park. The bird, named Barr, managed to get around despite missing part of one foot, but it suffered leg problems during last year’s blizzards.
Mager is working with Centennial veterinarian Jerry LaBonde to fit Barr with a prosthetic. LaBonde did similar work in the past when ostrich and emu ranching was popular. He has also tended to a chicken with a heart problem and took care of ducks at Creative Acres.
“Her sanctuary definitely provides an alternative that’s not going to be there through the normal county shelters and those kinds of things, especially when it’s not a dog or cat,” LaBonde said.
Mager, who once worked in advertising and promotions, gets calls from people about creatures they can’t handle or keep. Sometimes the people keep the animals after coaching from Mager; sometimes Mager winds up with the animals.
She insists that animals other shelters might give up on can live good lives with a little patience and understanding. She consulted an out-of-state veterinarian and successfully treated a pig with an infection and swelling of the brain.
Mager said she has had only five animals euthanized over 20 years. Her reason for all the work is simple, she said: She has made a commitment to each animal.
“If you had five kids and one got sick, would you not care for the one who got sick?” Mager asked.
She said she believes resources exist to take care of the animals that work for people and provide them companionship.
“It’s your priorities, what’s important (to you),” Mager added.
On the Net:
Creative Acres, http://www.creativeacres.org/