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North Bay Animal Sanctuary Facing Loss Of Funding, Closure

SEBASTOPOL (CBS SF) -- An animal sanctuary in Santa Rosa that cares for older, sick or special needs animals is in need of its own rescue.

BrightHaven Animal Sanctuary takes in animals that would otherwise be abandoned. "Older animals," said its president and founder, Richard Pope. "Animals that were ready to be euthanized, or ready to die."

Pope and his wife Gail run the center out of their home in Sebastopol, and in 2013 were recipients of a Jefferson Award for their longtime efforts. Over the years they have converted every room in the house to accommodate the animals and make them more comfortable.

"We're very lucky to be here, and the animals absolutely love it," said Pope.

It's the animals who are lucky to be at BrightHaven - a sanctuary for creatures large and small who had really run out of chances.

The facility relies on a donor to pay the mortgage on their sprawling property. But the center says the donor is no longer able to pay.

The loss of the chief benefactor means the sanctuary is struggling to make ends meet and without help, this refuge and countless animals will be lost.

"The horses, they end up on slaughter trucks," said Vicki Sims. "The cats and dogs, the shelters just can't keep up."

"We serve in a unique need that isn't being served by anybody else," said Pope.

For the past 25 years, BrightHaven has given some 10,000 aging and disabled animals one more shot. "We found that shot wasn't a small shot, said Pope. "It gave them, in a lot of cases, many years of happy, joyous life."

Like most of the animals here, a rough life has given way to a distinct gentleness and what really feels like a deep appreciation for their second chance, the same kind of second chance now needed at this sanctuary.

"So, BrightHaven, as the parent, the caregiver of those animals, it needs another chance as well," said Pope.

The center has started an online fundraiser to help it cover the costs of the mortgage on the property.

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