Finding Forever Homes
By David Tirrell-Wysocki
Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
When Teresa Paradis was a young girl in Manchester, stray dogs and cats always followed her home. She’d take them to the dog pound for safekeeping and try to find homes for them.
Some habits never fade.
Dogs and cats, as well as horses, snakes, goats, geese, rabbits, chickens and other animals still find their way to Paradis. Some stay for safekeeping. For others she finds homes.
In 1997, Paradis established the Live and Let Live Farm and Sanctuary in Chichester for animals in need. Most have nowhere to go after their owners die or can no longer take care of them. Others are rescued from abusive or unhealthy conditions.
“A good day is being able to save some animals’ lives, and a better day is when we are able to find forever homes for them,” Paradis said. “A good day is successfully rescuing animals out of a bad situation, and, if they have to live their life out with us, then they do.”
Many of the dogs and cats, especially the pregnant ones, might have been put down elsewhere. At the 70-acre farm, they get another chance.
A horse named Teddy Bear is the longest resident at the farm. He’s been at Live and Let Live for nearly a decade, since his longtime owner had to move away.
A mini-horse named Wene (pronounced Wini) Mini has been there for nine years and became best friends with another mini-horse and a Canada goose with a deformed beak named Crooked Bill.
“For three years, they were inseparable,” Paradis said.
The trio was the subject of a movie about animals with unlikely relationships.
Live and Let Live averages about 80 horses, with varying numbers of dogs, cats and other animals. On a recent visit, it was hard to hear over the calling of 31 cockatiels. They arrived after their owner died.
Despite being in the news at times for taking in animals rescued by authorities from intolerable conditions, most animals on the farm had loving families.
“We are not here to take animals away from people,” Paradis said. “About 60 percent of our animals come in from people who have loved their animals and can no longer care for them.”
Starting with five rescue horses in 1997, Live and Let Live has grown into a respected nonprofit that receives rescued animals from around the country. It includes 27 horse paddocks, barns, an indoor rehabilitation center, pens, corrals and an outdoor riding ring.
Partnerships with businesses, schools, youth groups and nonviolent prisoner rehabilitation programs help provide care and find homes for the animals. They also offer humane education and horsemanship training that benefit the animals and the people involved.
Paradis is especially proud of the huge stable of helpers. In 2018, 500 volunteers, including parents with their children, logged 50,000 hours of work.
Ask Paradis why animal rescue became her life and she speaks of a woman with a carload of dirty, wet puppies who knocked on her door on a frigid winter night. The woman said she bred dogs and cats from an apartment and had to get rid of the puppies or be evicted.
“She had them in her car,” Paradis said. “Was she going to drop them on the side of the road, soaking wet, if we weren’t here that night?”
Watch for dates when “Voices in the Dark,” a documentary by filmmaker Rebecca Howland about Live and Let Live Farm, will be presented this spring at Red River Theatre in Concord. Visit Live and Let Live Farm for a tour every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. For more information about volunteering, finding a pet or donating, visit liveandletlivefarm.org.