The Indraloka Animal Sanctuary looks forward to calling Dalton its one home.
While about half of Indraloka’s farm animal rescues have settled into the nonprofit’s new campus, the rest await the move from its original location in Mehoopany. Having operations split between two campuses creates “a challenge on multiple levels,” according to founder Indra Lahiri.
“We’re in two locations and we can’t afford to continue this way,” she said. “It’s not safe for the animals to have staff and emergency equipment in two locations.”
Founded in 2005, the sanctuary provides a safe haven for farm animals in need, including cows, sheep and pigs.
Indraloka broke ground on its Dalton campus in late 2018 and hoped to complete it by last spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays.
Like many local nonprofit organizations, Indraloka lost a significant amount of income because of the pandemic. The heaviest blow came when issues with the Postal Service held up distribution of mailers for the annual appeal, which brings in about one-third of Indraloka’s income, Lahiri said.
Indraloka needs to raise around $90,000 more to complete the new sanctuary and close out the transition, and Lahiri remains hopeful that people will “give as generously as they could afford to.”
Johnny Braz, creative director for Indraloka, designed the new campus with “necessity and functionality” in mind. It’s a hub where the pastures meet in the middle, which helps centralize and streamline caregiving and visitation without intruding on the animals if they don’t feel like interacting with guests, he said.
When the pandemic began, Indraloka canceled its public tours and events, pivoting to online programming under the COVID-19 restrictions. Currently, it’s open for small, private tours, as well as appointments between therapists and their clients.
The pandemic isn’t over, and Braz said Indraloka’s team needs to work twice as hard through 2021.
“You have to see opportunity in adversity and that’s what we’ve done to survive so far,” Braz said. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a good challenge.”
Indraloka has grown since its founding and currently houses more than 200 animals.
While providing rescue animals a place to live out their days in harmony, it also focuses on outreach and education, especially for children.
Lahiri quickly noticed the positive effects of letting kids bond with the sanctuary’s animals.
“Magic was occurring for both the animals and the children when they were spending time together,” she said.
Through initiatives like Hopeful Heroes, Indraloka offers opportunities in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education and more, particularly for at-risk youth.
Lahiri said being in Mehoopany created a roadblock for some kids in terms of transportation, while the new campus allows Indraloka to expand its youth outreach in a more accessible location.
Larger and improved facilities also benefit current and future rescue animals. In recent years, Lahiri said Indraloka has mainly taken on emergency cases while finding placement for others in different sanctuaries.
When the transition to Dalton is complete, she looks forward to increasing the rescue numbers once it’s financially feasible.
Lahiri eventually wants to offer programming to the elderly, too.
“We want to find as many ways to connect those feeling disenfranchised in our community with the love animals provide and the healing nature provides,” she said.
To donate or learn more about Indraloka, visit indraloka.org.