Fur and wool will replace chocolate and flowers for 15 people this Valentine’s Day as they get a unique visit from some furry friends.
For the third year in a row, Tiny Hooves Rescue and Petting Zoo hosted its annual animal-gram fundraiser, which benefits the non-profit program. The fundraiser brings a trailer filled with various animals to a person’s location and gives them 15 minutes of their own private petting zoo.
The animals in the trailer will include Colt the llama, a mini horse, a potbelly pig, baby goats and bunnies — most of them being rescues.
Shelby Michalewicz, who runs the non-profit, said the hardest part about the fundraiser is usually limiting the visits because people like spending time with the animals.
“It’s a way to not only give back to our community and our animal rescue, but also gives your loved one an experience of a lifetime,” Michalewicz said. “Because flowers will die but experiences will last forever.”
While this Valentine’s Day is expected to be colder than previous years, Michalewicz said she intended to move forward with it since the enclosed trailer would help.
Michalewicz said the idea to start the animal-gram started when a man had called up the organization looking to have his girlfriend visited by a llama for Valentine’s Day. She said the visit by the llama, the mother of Colt from this year, went very well and inspired her to expand the idea.
The event has since expanded, with the animal-gram giving out candy, photo opportunities and a embroidered llama keychain.
Michalewicz said the money earned from the fundraiser always goes back into helping the non-profit rescue and care for more animals.
Tiny Hooves Rescue and Petting Zoo is a 501c3 non-profit farm and exotic animal rescue, with Michalewicz traveling around the state to pick up abandoned animals.
“A lot of times in the community if (people) find something they will take it to the animal shelter, but usually animal shelters aren’t equipped to take on exotic or livestock animals,” Michalewicz said “We wanted to be a source for the community for all the above that are not a cat or a dog.”
The organization offers mobile petting zoos, educational programs, animal therapy sessions, nursing home visits and animal care classes in addition to its rescue efforts.
This year the profit from the fundraiser will be going toward the construction of a new enclosure for the rescued animals.
Michalewicz said this project, which would include a metal building and a concrete foundation, had its donations funding its construction interrupted earlier this year due to the coronavirus.
“About 90 percent of the animals on our farm are rescued. They all have their own stories that they have accumulated through either abuse situations or surrenders or found as strays,” Michalewicz said.
Michalewicz said that while many of the animals that come in do need rehabilitation, the organization does look to get them adopted.
For information about Tiny Hooves, visit www.facebook.com/tinyhoovespettingzoo/.