If you’ve ever been driving down the street in Seguin and passed a box full of puppies, or seen donkeys or goats wandering down a country road, you already know about the animal abandonment issues the area faces. As the isolation of COVID was coming to an end, Bryan Tewksbury noticed a growing dilemma and decided to do something about it.
With the support of his wife Elise, he began the journey of opening Liefie’s Animal Rescue.
“My wife is from South Africa and I’ve always called her liefie, which in Afrikaans means little love,” he said. “And also, she’s an avid gardener so I always called her liefie as a double entendre. And so when it came to the name, we just named it Liefie’s (little love) Rescue.”
The Tewksburys felt it was their responsibility to help defend and care for these animals, and try to make a real difference in their community.
“We have a strong faith that it’s our job to care for animals,” Bryan said. “Human beings are unique in that we’re the only creature on this planet that has the capability to take care of every other animal on this planet. Whatever your beliefs are, everybody can agree that animals that are taken in by humans or created by humans need to be taken care of by humans.”
Many of the animals that people often buy as pets become domesticated and are then unable to survive on their own in the wild.
“You can’t go to a pond in the park and drop ducks off and expect them to survive,” he said. “They’ll die in the winter.”
Liefie’s started out as a discussion. The more they researched and started helping, the more they realized how much Seguin and the surrounding area really needed this service.
“Basically, we felt led, that this is something we should do,” he said. “We started talking about it. We took in a couple of rescues in the beginning while we were just investigating just to see what it was like to go rescue an animal.”
The couple’s journey had them learning how to get the animals healthy, vaccinate them and feed them proper diets. Eventually, other people began to take notice, sought out the Tewksburys for help, and began helping themselves.
“So, we started off light, taking in a few animals, rehabilitating, finding homes for them,” Bryan said. “And that’s when we realized, you know, doors started opening for us. People started banding together, and churches started volunteering their time, sending kids over. Local churches, you know, the community was on board.”
The amount of animals Liefie’s houses has increased significantly, including an abundance of livestock such as pigs, chickens, ducks and one rather entertaining turkey named Jeanette.
There are several dogs in various stages of training as well. A great pyrenees named Ian is clearly in charge of the whole operation.
The organization started having rummage sales and events to help raise money. While there are many people who want to help but don’t have the financial means, Liefie’s can always use their help in various other ways like delivering and picking up animals or supplies, Bryan said.
“If you’ve got some free time on a Saturday or a Wednesday, you could just help us take out trash or clean out a pen … even if it’s just one pen,” he said. “If you’ve only got 30 minutes, well I’ve got something for you to do.”
The couple formed the nonprofit in 2022 and Liefie’s Rescue was officially born.
Anna Fisher, a board member who has been involved with other nonprofits in various capacities over the years, was instrumental in helping with the process.
“She brings financial wisdom and years of experience to the table,” Bryan and Elise agreed.
Elise has known Fisher for more than 20 years, which adds a level of trust that definitely factored into their decision to ask her to join them.
Bryan and Elise are focusing heavily on the administrative side of the rescue to ensure that everything is set up for success and runs smoothly in the future.
As the Tewksburys continue seeking support funding their endeavor, they also want to have an open and engaged presence in the community and give back as much as they can.
Liefie’s hopes to step in when a person can no longer care for an animal and the shelters are all overflowing, and fill in that gap to keep animals from being abandoned. They plan to continue educating people on what goes into animal ownership, to help keep the problem from worsening.
Liefie’s currently operates from the couple’s 16-acre homestead, but Bryan has big plans for the nonprofit’s future. The animals are set up in pens near the house toward the middle of the property. There is a 6-acre fenced area behind the house that the couple is working toward setting up to accommodate a more free-range system. The first step is to build a 10-foot wildlife fence within the existing fence line, which is no small feat, Bryan said. The trained dogs will have free reign of the back enclosure to help protect the other animals from airborne predators.
A large pond adjacent to a smaller pond, both of which are dry at the moment, will serve as a necessary ecosystem for aquatic animals like ducks. Bryan has spoken to several zoos about possibly setting up an aviary to house birds.
While there’s no set plan for what types of animals they’ll rescue, Bryan said he’s not counting anything out.
“We’re letting the community pretty much lead us to where the need is, but we want to be able to build to the point where we don’t say no to any animal,” he said. “Because that’s our goal is to not say no, whether we need to re-home right from collection, or if we have to find another rescue that is specifically designed to contain the animal.”
The couple’s ambitions don’t stop there as they plan to set up an intake area near the front gate, and a large barn near the house for supplies. Down the road, Bryan wants to host birthday parties and events for fundraising, and eventually have a storefront in town to offer services.
The people and animals at Liefie’s strive to give every visitor a sense of family, community and compassion.
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