Lucie Cerny, RASTA founder, with one of her beloved pigs. (Photo submitted)

Lucie Cerny, RASTA founder, with one of her beloved pigs. (Photo submitted)

Health of Chemainus sanctuary founder forces transfer of animals, some assets to Duncan facility

Animals will eventually be moved from RASTA to A Home For Hooves

Chemainus’ Rescue And Sanctuary for Threatened Animals will be transferring animals and some assets to A Home For Hooves Farm Sanctuary in Duncan due to the ill health of RASTA’s founder.

Lucie Cerny made the announcement on RASTA’s Facebook page.

“I’m deeply saddened to share that I have some serious personal health issues which are prohibiting me from continuing in the capacity I have for so long,” she wrote. “Everyone who knows me personally knows that I have always put the animals and their needs ahead of my own and often at the detriment to my own health and well-being which unfortunately has now materialized into a serious health condition that I can no longer continue to ignore.”

A Home for Hooves – under the direction of CEO, founder and president Michelle Singleton – is raising funds to secure a new larger property and to develop it into a world class facility for animal rescue, advocacy and educational programs.

“I am beyond excited for them and thrilled to see Michelle and her dedicated team taking on this monumental venture,” noted Andrew Hill, director of operations for RASTA sanctuary. “I believe that there is nobody more qualified or committed than them to take this on and they have always operated with the utmost integrity and with the highest standards of animal care. I know I will continue to support them in any way I can, certainly as a volunteer with the organization and I know they will need all the help they can get to raise the funds and develop this new sanctuary immediately, which will open with both the 70 residents from A Home for Hooves as well as the 100 residents that will move there from RASTA.”

Moving all the animals from the Chemainus Road location to A Home For Hooves Farm Sanctuary is bittersweet for Cerny.

“By combining assets and resources such as lumber, infrastructure, animal supplies, volunteers, etc. of both sanctuaries ensures the sustainability and secures the future of the RASTA animals, those of A Home for Hooves, as well as many more future rescues to come, and not to mention that they will all have approximately 20 times more space and environmental enrichment to enjoy their lives than they currently have now,” explained Cerny. “For the animals, this is a massive win.

“In addition to this enormous benefit to the animals, having a substantially larger property will also enable A Home for Hooves to embark on a variety of sustainable programs and explore various business opportunities to help fund their sanctuary, and thereby further solidifying a secure future, financial and otherwise.”

A new barn has been springing up on the RASTA site through the financial efforts and labour contributions led by actress and animal advocate Pamela Anderson. The money from the barn’s sale will stay with the animals to help secure their future and assist A Home for Hooves with operational costs, Cerny indicated.

Related story: Anderson promotes animal compassion campaign on behalf of RASTA Sanctuary

The animals will remain in Chemainus until the move, Hill added, and “we will continue to be fully responsible for their care. We have taken every step possible for their security and care after they move, including an extensive contract detailing individual care requirements, family groups, medical needs, end of life plans, and all future considerations which has been agreed to by both sanctuaries and guaranteed personally by Singleton.”

The future of RASTA is uncertain at this time. Cerny needs time to try to regain her health and hopes when she’s well enough to continue in some capacity with education, advocacy and new initiatives. She will be leaving Chemainus once the property is sold and there will likely be a period of inactivity while she recovers, but the intention is RASTA will continue to stand up for and protect animals.

Hill pointed out after the sale of the Chemainus property where RASTA is currently located, a significant amount of the money from the proceeds of the sanctuary improvements and structures – including the barn, shelters and fencing – will go to A Home for Hooves to secure operational and emergency funds that will support the animals for years to come, along with the physical assets such as a tractor, feed, tools and more. The property itself is not owned by the sanctuary.

From the remaining funds, RASTA will cover transportation costs to ensure a smooth transition for the animals, help with preparation of the new property and with the integration of the residents to their new home.

Cerny’s RASTA organization has been in operation for more than 20 years and started in Alberta before moving to Chemainus in 2015.

Cerny has devoted herself to the animals and their care seven days a week and 18 hours or more a day from the beginning.

“I love the animals more than anything in the world which is why I’ve devoted my entire life to helping them,” she pointed out.

Related story: Animals find a forever home and a new lease on life at RASTA Sanctuary in Chemainus

Cerny is grateful for the resolution of the stressful situation with her friend Singleton, who shares that common passion.

“I’d like to assure everyone that this has in no way been an easy decision for me to make as I’ve been struggling with it for some time now and quite literally feel like it’s tearing me in half,” Cerny elaborated. “The animals are my life, my entire life and this decision is the single most difficult one I’ve ever had to make in my entire lifetime on this Earth.

“The most important individuals in this situation are the animals and the consideration for their future and well-being. That being said, having their lives improve greatly by moving them to a significantly larger home with actual pastures to graze, acres upon acres to roam and potentially even natural ponds and lakes to swim in has given me the peace and hope in my aching heart that I so desperately need right now.”



Caretaker Sierra Mirau tends to some of the animals at the RASTA Sanctuary in Chemainus. (FIle photo by Don Bodger)

Caretaker Sierra Mirau tends to some of the animals at the RASTA Sanctuary in Chemainus. (FIle photo by Don Bodger)