We were thrilled when Tracy Vogt of Charlie's Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary invited us up to Sonoma County to visit her rescued farm animals! Tracy founded Charlie's Acres in 2016 with the goal to rescue farm animals who were abused or destined for slaughterhouses. The mission of the sanctuary is to educate people on the humane treatment of animals and plant based food options through spending time with animals. We got to spend some time feeding the animals and ask Tracy a few questions. If you love photos of adorable pigs, today's your lucky day!
Tell us about how and why you started Charlies Acres.
I started Charlie's Acres in the summer of 2016 with the desire to reach people in the Bay Area and Wine Country with farm animal welfare issues. Because as an animal lover, I realized that farm animals are a huge underserved community of animals. We have countless organizations dedicated to helping our companion animals and wildlife, but as a society, tend to forget about farm animals. According to the USDA statistics, more than 4.6 billion farm animals were killed in 2016 for food. That's a hard number to even fathom and a huge group of animals we as a society completely ignore welfare-wise. I started Charlie's Acres to not only be able to rescue a very small handful of animals, but also to bring awareness to this issue.
Why and when did you move to a vegan lifestyle?
I've always been very concerned about animal welfare and started off by cutting out pig products after watching the 1995 movie "Babe" about the talking pig! I knew something was off, but continued the journey to vegetarianism, cutting out meats throughout the years until in 2016 when I became fully vegetarian. I actually became fully vegan only in January 2017! It is one of those things that once you become vegan, you wish you had started earlier, but I'm just happy I'm there now.
What’s the biggest challenge with being vegan?
The biggest challenge is the lack of really good cheese!! Actually it's not that bad....the biggest challenge for me has actually been finding good products whether that is food, shoes, home products etc. that are not made with animal products.
We saw that you recently flew to Austin to bring back animals that were saved from the hurricane and floods in Houston. Can you tell us about that experience?
I flew down to Austin, Texas with two other animal rescue groups to take 69 total dogs and cats up to the Bay Area from an emergency shelter. The dogs and cats were previously already in shelters in Texas when the hurricane hit and flooded their shelters. Austin Pets Alive
set up emergency shelters and did a great job in housing the animals, but were completely overwhelmed with the shear number. We flew down with a Bay Area coalition of rescues with donations to take some of the animals back home and try to get them adopted from here. This allowed for more space for ongoing rescues in Texas and the opportunity for families to find their beloved pets they may have lost in the hurricane. It was a very humbling, emotional experience, and a very stinky flight back!
Tell us about the animals currently at your sanctuary and their background stories.
We currently have five pigs, five chickens, and two ducks at our sanctuary. Our pigs all have very unique stories from coming from a laboratory testing facility, to being rescued in a wildfire, to being heavily overweight and unable to really walk and function as a normal pig. Our chickens came from an egg laying facility where they would be considered "spent", meaning they are too old to produce as many eggs as the industry would like, and are normally killed at the young age of 3.5. Chickens still can live much longer, upwards of 10 years if properly cared for! Our ducks were abandoned in a pond, likely as unwanted pets. A domesticated duck can't live in the wild much better than a domesticated dog could!
What’s in your Delgado tote?
I use my Filbert "Delgado" tote as an all purpose bag I can take to the sanctuary, as well as on trips, or out on the town on the weekends! At any given time, it's normally holding my laptop and cell phone, wallet, a change of clothes for when I get too hot and muddy on the farm, and a water bottle to keep me hydrated out in the sun!
Thanks for having us out to the farm, Tracy!