My latest guest on the podcast is Tracy Vogt, founder of Charlie’s Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization caring for abused, homeless, and rescued farm animals.

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Saving Lives and Advocating for a Better World

We are focused on rescuing farm animals, and also educating the public on the issues they face. They can combat climate change, support a plant-based diet, and show kindness to animals. Click To Tweet

Among the vineyards of wine country, near the small town of Sonoma California, you can find a 32-acre non-profit that provides a safe haven for about 150 animals. Charlie’s Acres Farm Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization caring for abused, homeless and rescued farm animals, was founded by my dear friend Tracy Vogt in 2016. By educating the public on animal welfare issues she is changing the way society views farm animals, creating a community — both physically and virtually — and opening a space for people to congregate and connect around an aligned mission: kindness and compassion.

Show kindness. Feel empathy. Practice compassion.

In a system of billions of animals, Tracy is just a small piece in the picture. She advocates that farm animals are no different from pets. Partnering with organizations like Mercy for Animals and other local organizations, she spreads the word and creates a mutual support network.

Tracy grew up in a rural area in Northern California and she’s been passionate about animals for her entire life. After watching Babe, the story of an orphaned pig, she stopped eating pigs and eventually transitioned into an animal-free diet. She then met and adopted Charlie —  a little overlooked Chihuahua in a shelter — and was set on a mission-driven effort to promote compassionate living. In 2016, Tracy combined her passion for animal welfare with her non-profit management experience to create an organization focused on rescuing animals and shifting mindsets.

Tracy has dedicated the last 4 years to build 11 barns on her farm. She has taken in over 70 animals from all the recent wildfires in California, housing as many animals as possible to accommodate them during the crisis. Tracy keeps extra space because she knows that during the fall they’ll need to house-in evacuees due to the predicted wildfires. 

Every single animal has a unique story. 

Empathy and compassion for animals translate to empathy and compassion for humans. They are sentient, beautiful creatures with unique personalities and emotional intelligence. These animals have had a traumatic background, but they have all somehow come around to being wonderful, appreciative and forgiving towards humans. They inspire us to see that we can also be forgiving towards animals and to each other.

For nonprofits like Charlie’s Acres, it’s important that at the end of the day we celebrate the small victories and get to tell narratives that give us hope. Storytelling is a powerful tool,  allowing us to empathize with these animals and see that they’re no different from our pets at home.

During shelter-in-place Tracy and the team from Charlie’s Acres have gotten very creative about how to demonstrate their mission, build affinity, and delight their community. From zoom-meeting photobombing to yoga, goats are going virtual! Potbellied pigs, horses, ducks, cows, roosters, and the like are all debuting on virtual dates, birthdays, school tours, and family parties along the way. 

As of September, they are now starting to offer in-person tours again, with all the preventive and sanitary safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more and get involved at

Key Takeaways: 

03:41 – How Tracy started on her journey of compassion, actively rescuing farm animals, and educating the public.

10:36 – Why cuddling with a cow can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress and encourage relaxation.

14:12 – Figure out what your niche is and what your nonprofit is best at: How Charlie’s Acres  have weathered the storm during the shelter-in-place by offering a unique experience.

18:34 – Reach out to your network: engaging donors virtually and partnering up with corporations in the new normal. 

24:02 – Tracy’s goal of raising awareness and ultimately going out of business.

Connect with Tracy

Follow Charlie’s Animal Sanctuary on Facebook

Episode Resources

The Humane League

The Humane Society of the United States | Animal Studies Repository Research

Mercy for Animals