'Rude awakening:' Alberta farm animal sanctuary robbed

One of Alberta’s only farm animal rescue agencies is feeling a financial hit after $2,100 was stolen from their property, just a few days before a major fundraiser and it all started with two hungry, runaway hogs.

'It's been just a huge blow to us and a rude awakening'

Melissa Foley was rounding up some runaway hogs when the truck, along with thousands of dollars in fundraising money, was stolen last weekend. (FARRM/Facebook)

One of Alberta's farm animal rescue agencies is feeling a financial hit after $2,100 was stolen from their property, just a few days before a major fundraiser.

It all started with two hungry, runaway hogs.

The organization's founder, Melissa Foley, had her keys in the ignition and was ready for a drive into town last weekend when she noticed two pigs had escaped from their pen and were roaming about the yard.

So she hopped out of the driver's seat and ran over to wrangle the pesky porkers back into the barn on her acreage just outside of Wetaskiwin.

That's when a thief stole her truck, and rammed it through the locked gate of the animal sanctuary.

The cash, and a number of silent auction items intended for Friday's fundraiser are gone, along with one of Foley's most cherished personal mementos. A necklace containing her brother's ashes.

"It's been just a huge blow to us and a rude awakening," Foley said.

"We've all been left feeling really shocked. We have spent years trying to make this farm sanctuary a safe place for our animals and the people that come out here to visit them, and just in a matter of minutes we've had all of that hard work kind of violated."

The truck is insured, but Foley is unsure if she will be reimbursed for the cash or any of the other valuables inside the truck, and without transportation she says the organization has "come to a standstill."

Melissa Foley founded farm more than five years ago. Since then, the Edmonton-area rescue has saved hundreds of animals from across the prairies. (Supplied )

And beyond the financial losses, Foley says her sense of safety on her own property can't be replaced.

"This really hit us hard," Foley said.

"It just seems, no matter how hard we try to keep these animals safe there's always people out there that might jeopardize that and that's something we've been struggling with ever since. "

Farm Animal Rescue & Rehoming Movement, or FARRM for short, acts as a sanctuary for surrendered and abused farm animals, like horses, chickens and pot-bellied pigs. Since they were founded five years ago FARRM have rescued more than 350 animals from the Edmonton area and across the prairies.

The volunteer-driven organization relies on public donations, and Foley says the second annual Laughs for Lives Fundraiser, which is expected to garner $15,000 in donations, will allow them to "keep the lights on through winter."

The event which features music, comedy and a buffet at the Boyle Street Community League, will go ahead as planned.

"Were just playing catch up right now," said Foley.

"A lot of the paperwork and insurance documents and liquor licensing documents were in the truck when it got stolen so that's been a huge setback for us.

"We've basically had to go back and start all over now."

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon


Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca