Big Oaks Rescue Farm: Keeping a Dream Alive

Lifelong animal lover and animal advocate Joe Mann founded the Big Oaks Rescue Farm in Greenwood, SC in 2007. Since that time, horses, sheep, goats, donkeys, and a host of other farm animals in need have been fortunate enough to find their way to the sanctuary created by Mann, to be rehabilitated, given sanctuary, and adopted by loving families. In addition to saving animals that have been abused and neglected, the nonprofit organization is also focused on raising awareness of animal abuse and helping the public learn more about animal welfare. Mann, who passed away after a long battle with cancer in October of 2016, believed that, through education, future cases of animal abuse and neglect could be prevented. 

The Big Oaks Rescue Farm is funded entirely through donations, and those who donate money, hay, or others goods and services are considered partners in the fight to save Upstate animals. Following Mann’s death, as lead volunteer Mary Moss took over the responsibility of running the sanctuary, the farm was facing several major challenges. Moss had been volunteering with the group since 2013, and it was very important to her to see the farm successfully through these challenges. It was a difficult time for many reasons in addition to the loss of the group’s beloved founder; a recent drought and a drop in donations had also put the farm in peril. As she took the reins of the organization, Moss was focused on fulfilling Mann’s dying wish—to keep the farm going. Fortunately, as word of the needs of the sanctuary spread throughout the Upstate in the wake of Mann’s death, donations began to come in large numbers. Through the hard work of Moss, her fellow volunteers, and many Upstate supporters, Joe Mann’s animal sanctuary survived and continues to do the work that he started ten years ago. As of 2017, the group has rescued and rehabilitated over 500 horses and other farm animals and has found permanent homes for over 200 of those animals. In the photo to the left, “Betty White,” a horse who was a long-time, well-liked resident of the sanctuary, poses with her new owner. 

One of the key components of the educational programs that Big Oaks Farms provides is focused on children. According to Mann, “Something magical happens when a child meets an animal.” Children who visit the sanctuary learn about the responsibility of caring for animals as well as the importance of being kind to animals. The farm hosts many local groups of children from Upstate schools and other children’s groups. 

There are many ways that animal lovers can support the Big Oaks Rescue Farm. Schools, churches, businesses, and individuals can sponsor a horse by providing money for its monthly needs. Sponsors get updates about the animal that they support. Seeing the progress that the horse makes each month can be truly remarkable, and sponsoring a horse until it is placed in a permanent, loving home can be a wonderful experience. Any horse that is ready for adoption can be sponsored, and horses currently available for sponsorship can be found on this page. In addition to sponsors, monetary donations and/or donations of goods and services are a great way to support Big Oaks Rescue Farm. A list of needed items can be found here.

If you are interested in volunteering at Big Oaks Rescue Farm or in simply following some of the stories of the exciting things that are happening there, please visit the Big Oaks Rescue Farm Web site and Facebook page

All photos courtesy of Big Oaks Rescue Farm.

Angela Rogers is a teacher, bibliophile, and freelance writer who is a lifelong resident of the Upstate.