A Home for Life

By: Mary Rinzel with Photographer Duane Wolter Email
By: Mary Rinzel with Photographer Duane Wolter Email

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.

"Hi Sabre!"
"Did you see Cody?"
"Hi Em, how are ya?"

For more than 250 animals, these 40 acres in Polk County are home.

"Candy, hi!"
"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.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Lisa T Location: Minneapolis on Jun 30, 2008 at 11:32 AM
    As a sponsor for one of the HFL animals I can think of no better organization for my charitable contributions to go. HFL is truly a place for animals who have no voice. I'm glad that Lisa responded to indicate that no tax dollars or government grants are received for funding since this is misunderstood by some viewers. The world is in great need of more organizations like HFL.
  • by lisa Location: star prairie on Jun 30, 2008 at 08:29 AM
    HFL is funded with private dollars.we recieve no public funding or goverment grants
  • by Peggy Location: Eau Claire, WI on Jun 30, 2008 at 06:58 AM
    I would like to thank WEAU for doing this heart-warming story. I had no idea that this facility existed and will add it to my list of charities so Lisa can continue to provide for these helpless creatures.
  • by Karen Location: Minneapolis on Jun 30, 2008 at 05:41 AM
    I work for a very large corporation, and advocates that it is our corporate social responsibility to care for anything in society that benefits that society. Whether some like it or not, animals, including abandoned and tortured pets, are included in our society. Bravo to Home for Life for creating a cutting-edge sanctuary.
  • by Dan Location: Wisconsin on Jun 29, 2008 at 02:18 PM
    This is where our tax dollars are going??? There are local people have no food, shelter, or health care but Free money from government grants can feed and house animals that live better than most of the elderly in this country does. I say great save all these animals, but do it on YOUR own dime, not on mine. My suggestion if you have extra money to donate, is to donate it to food pantries, shelters, pregnancy center, or even after school kids programs.
  • by Mark Location: Minneapolis on Jun 28, 2008 at 06:01 PM
    After about 8 years of supporting some of the 'residents' of HFL, my wife and I can't imagine a better way of life for animals that had no other option. Lisa and her dedicated staff do a fabulous job of making HFL truly a warm, happy home for these very needy creatures. We urge others to contact HFL and consider making a small donation to support their efforts.
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