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Local animal sanctuary works to provide a better life for animals in need

AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - Chanoah and David refused to ever turn away any animal in need. They took in three bottle fed cows and multiple dogs before realizing, “we might as well become a nonprofit charity.” 

AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - Chanoah and David refused to ever turn away any animal in need. They took in three bottle fed cows and multiple dogs before realizing, “we might as well become a nonprofit charity.” 

CEOs and directors Chanoah Orr and her husband David Orr own Orr Farm Rescue and Sanctuary in Waverly, Alabama. Their farm is at the heart of everything they do. The sanctuary doubles as an adoption facility and home for animals who have nowhere else to go. 

700 acres of fields and woodlands have become the home to dogs, cows, goats, horses and countless. Their wooden home, a 280-year-old sharecroppers cabin, sits right on the property overlooking their land and sanctuary animals right outside. Most of their animals are offered for adoption excluding animals with special cases.

Some of their dogs are included in these special cases. “We've totally fell in love with them or they make really good farm dogs,” said Chanoah. 

One of the first dogs she saved was a black lab who she found on the side of the road. She created a lasso out of materials from her car, placed a bowl of food down before him, and waited until he began to eat. He immediately rolled over on the pavement and played dead for Chanoah. At that moment, she decided to name him Possum. Now, Possum’s sleek black coat and excited demeanor proves that his life turned for the better. 

Chanoah and David met years before the idea for the farm arose. David was looking for a dog walker to walk his chocolate lab Gator, and he hired Chanoah. She would come over multiple times a day to walk Gator, making it already clear to David that she had a unique passion for animals.

“One evening I got home early enough in the evening to go with them on the evening walk, and I was just instantly smitten with her,” David said. “I had never met a woman that enjoyed the outdoors as much as I do.”

Chanoah and David have grown together as a couple through their hard work and dedication to the farm. 

“Working with Chanoah is awesome,” said David. “She always has a great attitude, and she is almost magical with the animals. She is difficult to keep up with though. She has one of the strongest work ethics I have ever seen.”

Chanoah and David almost solely run the farm themselves alongside a few volunteers. Katie Greene, a recent graduate from Louisiana State University, spends most of her free time helping out with the farm. She has grown close to Chanoah and David both professionally and personally.

“I think just knowing that having it in the back of my head that at the end of the day, it is a rescue; it is a sanctuary for some of these animals who do have pasts,” said Green. “I think just knowing that I'm able to contribute to providing them a life that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten if they weren't here.” 

Though the community surrounding Orr Farm loves what they do, Chanoah still has to be careful about who to trust. Chanoah said a couple came to the property offering to build a turkey coop for a couple of turkeys she planned to save. After Chanoah gave a down payment and offered supplies to the couple, she never heard from them again. 

“They took my supplies and my money, so I had nothing to build anything with,” said Chanoah. “Now I'm a little bit nervous about trusting people.”

Still, this situation did not get the best of them. Chanoah and David hold events for the community to get involved and get to know the animals. Orr Farm plans to hold their annual Blossom Trot event on April 12 and 13. Through the event they partner with local businesses to hold a silent auction as well as trail rides and a campout. 

“It’s my belief that the rescue provides a tremendous resource to the community,” said David. “People call us all the time to help out with animals that have been discarded and dropped off by their property.”

Orr also partners with the community by donating or selling their fresh chicken and duck eggs to local restaurants and bakeries.

“They love duck eggs, especially because they make real moist cakes,” said Chanoah.

The fresh eggs collect around the farm, and the extra eggs double as toys to keep the dogs preoccupied. 

“Chanoah and I take zero salary or administration fees out of donations,” said David. “100% of all donations go directly to the care of these animals.”


Out of love for their animals, Chanoah and David make sure to put any potential adopters through a thorough process to make sure that they go to a good home.

“They do and meet and greet [with the animal] here, and usually we have them bring their other animals and actually spend time with the animal in the yard,” said Chanoah. “We want to make sure they go to either a home that's equivalent to ours, or a better home.”

Having to say goodbye to animals that he grew to love is the toughest part of working the farm for David.

“Some of them we have had since they were just weeks old," said David. "It’s always hard to say goodbye, but we throughly vet anyone seeking to adopt, so I have comfort in knowing they are going to good homes.”

Rocco, a German Shepherd Chanoah and David rescued, was skin and bones when they first found him. He had tether marks around his neck, and it took over seven months for Rocco to become comfortable enough to let Chanoah and David touch him. Now, Rocco has joined the herd as another lively, friendly dog. Since nursing him back to health, Chanoah made the discovery that Rocco is a wolf hybrid. “He's got the little cute wolf curved ears, the big chest with a longer sweeping tail, and big ole’ wolf feet.” 

“Both of them just as good as gold,” said Greene. “She does everything she can for the animals in the property, and Mr. David does too with whatever limitations he has. They just care so much, and she is so smart. She knows everything about everything around here. I've definitely learned a lot from her since since I've been here.”

David was involved in a chemical explosion in his 20’s where he was the only survivor. Though lucky to make it out alive, the explosion burned 70% of David’s body. He needed almost his whole spine and neck reconstructed and lost all of his teeth. Though David recovered well, at almost 65-years-old, his injuries have began to resurface making it difficult for him to spend his time on the farm as he used to. 

“I do as much as I can to help Chanoah with the care of the animals, but since my injuries, I can’t do as much as I would like or as much as I once did,” said David. “Since I’m home all the time I do spend a lot of time with the animals, and I show them as much love as I possibly can. Some of these guys have never known much human kindness.”

Chanoah and David currently have five beagle mixes that they keep inside their home for David to watch over. Chanoah found the beagle mixes abandoned on a dirt road and brought them back to the sanctuary for rehabilitation and adoption.

When not taking care of the animals, David spends his time contacting local and state representatives to enact new spay neuter laws, along with a more aggressive no tether and animal cruelty laws. 

Their continued passion and dedication will not end until all animals are in loving homes. They plan to continue renovating and expanding their land to make room for more animals. Most of their 700 acres is filled with trees and overgrowth, but the couple wants to turn it into usable land.

Chanoah also says she would like to see more involvement from Auburn University students on the farm. She believes the farm would be beneficial for vet, wildlife and criminal justice students to gain firsthand knowledge from being around the sanctuary. 

“We hope Auburn keeps growing and growing, and we’ll be a place that when Auburn is nothing but grown up, we'll have a place here where it'll still be natural, and people will still come and enjoy the animals,” said Chanoah.


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