Hip hip hooray for 21 years strong

Founder Pam Ahern with Ruby and Trottie (supplied).

Whether you’ve already celebrated this milestone or are still longing to plan the day, a 21st birthday is one to celebrate.

It might be a relaxing day of acknowledging the years gone by or a day of festivities, surrounded by family and friends.

For Lancefield animal sanctuary Edgar’s Mission, it’s a day to celebrate 21 years of animal rescue and advocacy.

Set on 153 peaceable acres 60 kilometres north of Melbourne, the sanctuary currently provides care to more than 400 residents and has rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed more than 5000 animals.

The sanctuary officially brought in its 21 year minestrone on May 10, but the journey started more than two decades before with a girl, a pig and a dream.

In 2003, Edgar Alan Pig trotted into the life of founder Pam Ahern.

It was a quirky idea for a photo shoot to raise awareness about the plight of these much-maligned animals, and took her in a direction that she never imagined.

“It was from watching people’s interactions with Edgar that got me thinking the best ambassadors, the very best ambassadors for changing the way people think about these animals, were the animals themselves,” Ms Ahern said.

Today the sanctuary has more than 20 staff, but relies on the assistance of more than 80 volunteers donating their time to help keep the animals happy and healthy.

The sanctuary also relies on donors to provide emergency rescue, veterinary care and permanent loving homes for animals in need. Without this help, the life-saving work of Edgar’s Mission would not be possible.

Twenty-one years on, the sanctuary has become known for taking on the sometimes deemed ‘impossible’ cases of neglected animals with extremely dire health conditions.

Ms Ahern points to the recent rescue of a dorper ram lamb.

“He was critically emaciated, unable to stand or even lift his head, and had a worm burden that rivaled anything we had ever seen.

“But aided by a blood transfusion, an army of kindness, and round the clock care from our team, his fighting spirit has seen him take his first steps. It’s in these moments you witness the magic of kindness.

“This year alone, we have rescued [more than] 100 animals, rehomed more than 50 and fielded almost 200 calls from the community for assistance.”

Through education, outreach, advocacy, community engagement and tours, Edgar’s Mission encourages people to expand their circle of compassion to include all animals.

The hallmark of the advocacy Edgar’s Mission said it has, is never telling people what to do or not do, but rather encouraging them to think, all the while believing in the goodness of the human heart.

“It is through our daily choices,” Ms Ahern said. “What we choose to buy or not buy, to eat and not eat, that can really make a world of difference for animals, people and the planet.”

Edgar’s Mission will launch a new school holiday program for kids aged 6-12 years old in July this year.

For those looking to spend more time at the sanctuary, they can enjoy the ultimate retreat with a stay at one of the Edgar’s Mission tiny houses, overlooking the rolling hills and rescued animals of the sanctuary.