She houses hundreds of animals, most sick, hurt or abandoned. The animals come from across the country and even around the world. Now, one woman is determined to help them enjoy every single day for the rest of their lives.
"Did you see Cody?"
"Hi Em, how are ya?"
For more than 250 animals, these 40 acres in Polk County are home.
"This is Tiger. He’s named for Tiger Woods."
And founder and attorney Lisa LaVerdiere knows each dog, cat, bird, bunny…
…and African tortoise by name!
"I always say if you went to public high school or even college, you knew your classmates. It's not that hard!" LaVerdiere says with a laugh.
LaVerdiere founded her sanctuary about 10 years ago. In the past decade, she's taken in hundreds of tortured, sick and unwanted animals.
"We have several paraplegic animals. Several have been shot. Some have been stomped on," she says.
Now the beat and the brittle have a home for life; and a pretty luxurious one at that.
Every building is air conditioned in the summer. They all have heated floors for the winter. And big and small, everyone has constant access to the fresh air. If someone doesn't get along well with a group, they get put up in a private townhouse. It comes complete with a sound system playing classical music. It's a million dollar a year operation.
"It's been worth it. It's always great to come and see the animals. It's a lifelong dream come true," LaVerdiere says.
It’s a dream that requires a staff of 20 and 24 hour a day care.
"You can come in here and have the worse day ever and 200 animals don’t care about that. They put you in a great mood right away,” says Animal Care Specialist Holly Thielmann. “I like that she takes in anyone and they're here for life. They have all of us."
And they all have a story.
"Chako is a husky. He's 12 years old and came to us from New Jersey,” LaVerdiere explains. She says Chako broke his back and his owner had arthritis and couldn’t take care of him anymore.
"Candy is our profane cockatoo. He has two hobbies, meeting new people and working with wood."
"Goliath is huge. He’s an African tortoise. He wanders the property and grazes like a cow."
The animals aren't up for adoption. LaVerdiere says her's will be their final home.
Her goal: “to see them happy and content and to see them safe."
And when the animals succumb to their sicknesses or just get old. They also have a place to rest.
We have "a memorial garden based on the ancient symbol of the labyrinth. It’s the symbol for a journey of life," LaVerdiere tells us.
That makes her sanctuary truly a home for life.
The Home for Life Animal Sanctuary is funded completely by grants and donations. If you'd like to help out you can call 1-800-252-5918 or check out the home for life website. Just scroll down to related links.