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Hooved Animal Humane Society invites visitors

The upcoming “Critter Encounter and Watermelon Smash!” open house on Sunday aims to both raise awareness of the variety of animals in need of fostering or adoption and draw visitors to the farm.
The upcoming “Critter Encounter and Watermelon Smash!” open house on Sunday aims to both raise awareness of the variety of animals in need of fostering or adoption and draw visitors to the farm.

You’re invited to visit the Hooved Animal Humane Society farm in Woodstock. Just bring a watermelon for smashing.

It might seem like an odd request.

“The pigs just love it,” said Tracy McGonigle, executive director of the nonprofit animal rescue organization.

While most likely associate the organization with horses, the Hooved Animal Humane Society actually rescues all sorts of animals, including pigs, goats, sheep, mules and hinnies. They’ve also taken in alpaca and a llama before, too.

The upcoming “Critter Encounter and Watermelon Smash!” open house Sunday aims to both raise awareness of the variety of animals in need of fostering or adoption and draw visitors to the farm, McGonigle said.

Like the name entails, visitors are invited to smash their watermelons in the pig pens. The event also includes a “Critter Encounter,” in which visitors can buy feed cups for the goats and sheep, as well as farm tours. The farm’s Track Store will be open. The open house will be from
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the farm, located at 10804 McConnell Road in Woodstock. For information, visit www.hahs.org.

“It’s a good way for people to come in and familiarize themselves with animals they really don’t interact with very much,” McGonigle said.

Along with 46 equines, including horses and some mules and hinnies, the organization has four goats, five sheep and about 20 pigs, both pot-bellied and farm pigs.

Animals mainly are taken in as part of criminal investigations into abuse or neglect. Animals are not taken in from owners who’ve simply grown tired of the animals, McGonigle said, but situations involving serious hardships are considered if the organization has the space or budget to accommodate the animal.

“The goal for everybody here is to find them a home,” McGonigle said. “Because our animals come from such bad backgrounds, we like to adopt them to people who’ve had experience with that species. They have to have some experience working with them or volunteering with them.”

That’s why visits to the farm are encouraged, so people can learn about the animals and how to properly take care of them, she said. Open houses typically are hosted the third Sundays of every month at the farm.

The Hooved Animal Humane Society relies on volunteers. Although about 100 volunteers are registered, about 20 or so come regularly to help at the farm, McGonigle said.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” she said.

At the very least, a visit to the farm can be a fun family outing, especially when watermelon smashing is involved, she said.

“The people just love it,” she said.

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