Jenn Garrett has a big heart for animals and an immense passion for rescuing them from neglect, abuse and disaster. She also has a scenic rural setting, just west of Hoopeston, to showcase her animal menagerie.
Paws & Claws Animal Sanctuary is a member of Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative and in fact, Jenn and her husband, LT, provided the animal petting area at the 2018 EIEC annual meeting. Both Jenn and LT are animal lovers who want to make a difference by saving the lives of stray, no longer wanted and endangered animals. They own and operate Paws & Claws, located at 8891 Route 9 in Hoopeston.
Jenn, a native of Ontario, Canada, got her start rescuing animals with a pocket monkey. It has grown from there and now she has Petunia, a potbelly pig, Vincent Van Goat, Katie and Perry Peacock, and Swiper, a fox.
She has both wild and domesticated animals and the number and variety of residents varies from day to day. Her sanctuary animals come from as far as Tupelo, Mississippi and Buffalo, New York and as nearby as someone in the next town who purchased a bunny as an Easter present and no longer wants the responsibility now that the rabbit is full grown.
It’s a family affair at Paws & Claws. Jenn’s grandson Mark, age 6, can be found riding his miniature pony, Princess, around the property. Michael, age 4, is very comfortable around all the animals and his liveliness and enthusiasm doesn’t phase the horses grazing in the pasture. Those who work at the sanctuary describe Paws & Claws as a peaceful, healing space for people as well as animals.
Jenn is excited that she recently received USDA approval for the animal sanctuary to be open to the public. That approval took many hours of preparation and planning. Paws & Claws enhanced their enclosures and added some additional safety measures to ensure that the animals as well as the public remain safe at all times.
As a result of the USDA certification, Paws & Claws will now be open for visitors to come and see the sanctuary animals and learn more about them.
The general public can stop by on weekends, and for $10 per person, have an up close and personal encounter with an alpaca while meandering through Hooterville Junction, home to wolf dogs, roosters, raccoons, donkeys and many unique and unusual inhabitants. Guided tours are available for $20 and provide more in depth information about the animals.
Jenn has a vision for the future that involves movie nights, school groups and educational activities all related to learning more about the care and feeding of animals. She hopes to expand Paws & Claws to be able to handle more animals who need to be rescued, whatever the reason – neglect, abuse or living situations that are dangerous.
Because of her years of experience in rescuing animals, she has some expert advice to share – please leave wild animals in the wild and in their natural habitat. What seems cute and cuddly now eventually grows up.
Jenn is willing to relocate animals in need to her facility. She has a friend that’s a pilot who can assist in animal transportation. Jenn feels blessed to do the work she does and believes that these animals deserve to live in a loving and safe environment where they can receive the best quality of care. Paws & Claws is just that place. She’s currently receiving offers to take in animals from other rescues due to over crowding or lack of cages. The sanctuary has room, but needs to build enclosures large enough to house them comfortably.
Operating an animal sanctuary takes time, patience, money, love and commitment. It is physically and mentally demanding. It also takes a great deal of planning, a significant amount of funding, land, sturdy and secure buildings and fencing, substantial food sourcing, unwavering devotion and steadfast perseverance.
Paws & Claws is a tax-exempt non-profit, and tax deductible donations are always accepted and appreciated.
Check out the Facebook page for Paws & Claws. It highlights Jenn’s work and features many of the animals that are cared for at the sanctuary.
Volunteers are always needed and appreciated. If you are willing to help out with animal care and feeding, grounds maintenance or even enclosure construction and have time and talent to donate, contact Jenn at 217-772-3050 or simply stop by Paws & Claws sometime.