Sarah Ross with one of the happy rescues at Fur and Feather Animal Assistance in Pie Town.
Courtesy photo

It began as a labor of love for Brad and Laurie Beauchamp when they introduced a modest animal sanctuary in Catron County called Fur and Feather Animal Assistance. That was in 2003, but in 2022 – by all accounts – the facility seven miles south of Pie Town may be one of the largest sanctuaries in the state of New Mexico for small animals.

In addition to spaying and neutering more than 1,500 animals over the years, Fur and Feather is dedicated to rescuing lost and abandoned animals and helping out when people die or become incapable of caring for their pets.

“Our primary population is dogs and cats, but we are also home to several rescued horses, donkeys, and chickens as well,” said Sarah Ross, who now manages the 90-acre sanctuary. Ross stepped in when Laurie Beauchamp died.

“When Laurie passed in 2015, I wanted to carry on her dream and keep Fur and Feather moving forward. Laurie asked if I could keep Fur and Feather going before she passed on. While Laurie is no longer with us physically, she is still our guiding light.”

Ross moved to Fur and Feather just before the pandemic hit, and it has been her and Laurie’s husband Brad working seven days a week caring for and feeding all the animals.

“I am trying to do my best upholding those promises to keep Fur and Feather running,” Ross said. “I’ve wanted to open up the horse side of it because I’ve always worked with horses.

Laurie and Brad used to show horses and do jumping in Southern California, and I have a couple of rescues myself, personal horses.”

Unfortunately, the establishment has yet to be licensed for equines.

“We are fixing up the corrals and the straw bale barn that Brad and Laurie built together,” she said. “I want to register us as an equine rescue as well. I just recently got a couple of horses from a friend. We already have a 501c3 for animal rescue, but for equines, there are specific needs. We already have what’s needed, but I just wanted to clean it up a little bit and get our quarantine corral prepared.

“There have been a few cases out here with just wandering horses or wild horses that people need to catch and put somewhere but the closest equine rescue is the Albuquerque area,” Ross said. “And there’s a lot of burros.”

On occasion, ranchers will just find wandering horses coming onto their property.

“One year I rescued a horse, they were going to shoot him, because they thought it had killed a couple of calves,” she said. “I went out there and the horse was as sweet as can be, but I think he probably did kick and killed a calf. But he was starving, and no one knew where he came from so I went ahead and got him and found him a good home.”

Other animals include a miniature mule and “a huge 600-pound” sow that had been abandoned.

Fur and Feather currently cares for 38 dogs. “12 of those are permanent residents. Several are up for adoption” she said. “One just had a litter of puppies.”

Ten acres alone are dedicated to dogs and cats.

“Our cat population averages around a hundred, and even though most of them are up for adoption, many of the cats we take in will spend their lives living with us in Pie Town,” Ross said.

The cattery is an old school bus, and there’s an outdoor aviary for the cats.

Dogs and cats – who have proven to be peaceful – share the run of the 90-acre facility with a handful of rescued horses, donkeys, mules and chickens.

“We are also part of a network of shelters that provides a safe haven for the pets of victims of domestic violence,” she said.

While feeding and looking after the animals is a daily routine, maintaining the outbuildings is an added chore. The compound suffered damage from the weather over the last year.

“The destruction from the wind this year has been insane,” she said. “Of course, we have shelters on our kennels and have bunk houses and winter sheeted places because it gets cold. Right now, I think I have five of those pens that are needing to be totally redone because of the winds. The corrugated steel on the roofing has been peeled up and ripped and blown away.”

Despite being the largest county in New Mexico, there is no animal control, “so our work is critical.”

Funding is critical to keep things going and to take care of the many dogs and cats, and donations of food, bedding, toys, fencing, and building materials, and money is always welcome, she said.

“Nestle Purina in Flagstaff usually donates 10 to 15 pallets of dog and cat food. Then I have a few places in Albuquerque like Long Leash on Life that do a food drive around Christmas time,” Ross said. “They’re amazing people. They have a pet food store, too.”

The operation works with Catron County, collaborating on ideas for controlling the animal populations. “We have a bad problem with stray animals,” Ross said. “Rural areas of New Mexico have become a drive and dump area.”

Spaying and neutering are done at The Ark in Socorro, and they also use All Creatures Mobile Veterinary Services in Magdalena.

“We are truly non-profit, so donations and volunteers are always welcome,” she said. “There is never-ending upkeep on our 90-acre facility. Mending horse fencing, dog fencing/runs, repairing roofs, painting, replacing old fence posts, mowing the grounds, the cleaning up of manure and waste, maintenance on our much-needed vehicles, weatherization of existing pens, and of course caring for the animals.

Visitors are encouraged to come meet the dogs, cats and other animals. Fur and Feather is approximately seven miles south of Pie Town at 48 Ed Jones Road.