Farm critters don't have to worry about their future at the Animal Acres shelter

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It's a typical day at the animal shelter Bagel is getting a good belly rub. Roscoe and Kirby are receiving pats and scratches on their heads. And Sophia and Precious Moment are being softly stroked as they nestle closer to humans.

Dogs? Cats? Bunnies? No, they're farm animals, namely pigs, cows and turkeys and they're having a great time. These and other critters roam, snort, cluck and bleat freely at a new 25-acre rescue shelter devoted to caring for farm animals.

Animal Acres opened its doors last fall and has since welcomed 150 creatures to its bucolic pastures in Acton, 45 minutes north of Los Angeles. Here, animals that were once destined for slaughterhouses, factory farms or lives of indentured servitude are treated with a fond familiarity that's usually reserved for conventional pets.
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In addition to Saturday's festivities, the sanctuary holds a Farm Chore Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday (participants must be 16 years and older), as well as offering guided tours to the public at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sundays.

"So many kids never have the opportunity to interact with these animals," says Lorri Bauston, director of the shelter. "We want kids to understand, love and desire to protect these creatures as they would any other living thing."

Bauston certainly knows her way around the farm scene: She started the rescue movement in 1986 by opening up the first-ever sanctuary in upstate New York for abused and abandoned farm animals.

Now about 26 sanctuaries, by Bauston's estimate, dot the country, not only rescuing farm creatures but also advocating for better care and humane treatment of animals that are raised primarily for human consumption.

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