Nadia Elkharadly: For the Animal Lover in You

Those of you who read my column week to week would have learned by now that I’m a music lover.  What you may not know about me is that I’m also an animal lover.  And I’m not talking about guys that get up on a stage and thrash around, get sweaty and act like animals.  I’m talking about those furry, fuzzy, paw and hoof footed creatures that coexist on this world with us.

My dear friend Mark Munroe grew up in Schomberg, Ontario, and his parents still live there.  He mentioned to me recently that his lovely mother, a retired nurse, had begun volunteering at a local animal sanctuary.  Now, Mrs. Munroe is probably one of the kindest, sweetest people in the world, and a fellow animal lover, so when I heard this news I immediately thought “this is something I need to know about”.  So, armed with my camera, and with Mark and his mother as my guides, I made a mission to the Painted Rock Animal Sanctuary.

The Painted Rock Animal Sanctuary was started in the late nineties by Barry and Laura Cameron.  Initially it was run out of their home, when they rescued a kitten and a potbellied pig.  Fifteen years later, the Camerons relocated to what is now known as the Painted Rock Farm, and their animal family has grown to the triple digits.  The couple takes in abused, abandoned and orphaned animal from all sorts of different places and from all sorts of different people.  The stories are heartbreaking, from bitter divorces that leave exes so angry that they neglect once beloved pets out of spite, to huge highway accidents involving livestock transport trucks overturned on highways, with animals being pulled from the wreckage and nursed back to health.  Laura and Barry have found a litter of kittens in their mailbox, they’ve nursed baby goats with broken legs back to health and have taken in lame horses who can no longer be ridden.  If an animal needs a home, food, and to regain its trust in mankind, the Painted Rock Animal Sanctuary is there.  For years Laura and Barry paid for the care and feeding of the animals completely out of pocket, but that was no longer sustainable considering the amount of animals they have open their home to.  And when I say opened their home, I mean literally.  While most of the animals live out on the farm, some are too injured or sick to survive without closer care and supervision.  Cats, dogs, pigs, and sheep have been guests in the Cameron’s home.  And really, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a little lamb in a diaper (which apparently have to be changed up to twelve times a day).

These are the things I learned at Painted Rock:

1)      Donkeys LOVE the camera, and pose like the world’s best supermodels

2)      Goats have the creepiest eyes.

3)      Male goats urinate on themselves and each other to attract female goats.  As a result they smell completely awful.

4)      This pig was the size of the Volkswagen (he’d survived an overturned truck accident on the highway and I think he just eats his feelings now).

5)      Little baby lambs are the sweetest animals ever.

6)      Interspecies friendships are adorable.

7)      This thing exists: (It’s actually a Jacob Sheep with fused horns)

8)      People who mistreat animals are huge jerks who deserve to be junk punched endlessly. See for yourself.

All kidding aside, I had the most wonderful time at Painted rock.  The kid in me was thrilled to be seeing, petting and playing with all of these animals, and the adult in me was both awestruck and grateful for its entire existence.  The world is a much better place because of the goodness and generosity of Laura and Barry Cameron, and of people like Mrs. Munroe who volunteer their time to help feed and take care of these poor, mistreated animals.

Some people may think that animal cruelty isn’t an issue that should be focused on, that there’s enough terrible things happening to people in the world and that’s what we should be talking about.  But, aside from children, animals, especially domesticated ones that depend on humans for their survival and existence, are the most vulnerable creatures in this world.  The way we treat those that are most helpless is extremely telling, and to be cruel to an animal, in my opinion is unspeakable.  So thank you to Laura and Barry for doing what you’re doing, and for letting me into your little world for that day.

If you get a chance, please check out their website.  I dare you not to tear up, or have your heartstrings pulled.  Share with your friends, and please help me spread the word about this wonderful place.  Thank you J

Painted Rock Animal Sanctuary


Until next time,



Nadia’s column appears every Tuesday

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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

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