“I want to save animals,” said 7-year-old Anastasia Paredes.
The second-grader came to the Hamilton Mall on Monday to see some of the animals of Funny Farm Rescue, the Mays Landing farm with more than 600 animals ranging from dogs and goats to chickens and bulls.
But for Laurie Zaleski it’s not just about saving the animals she loves. Her diverse animal kingdom shows that those who seem very different can get along.
“They all came in the same car?” those who Zaleski travels to visit ask of dogs, a chicken and a goat.
Her reply: “They all live in the same house.”
Zaleski read two books to those gathered Monday, the first in a 10-book series highlighting Funny Farm residents.
The first is “Chucky the Miracle Dog,” telling the story of a dog that was given just six months to live, but survived more than five years, inspiring many along the way. He passed away a year ago.
“Farely the Funny Farm Dog” tells of the many residents at Funny Farm.
As Zaleski read from the book written by Matt Reeves, she talked to the children about the animals and pointed out how well they interact.
Many have been abused, but with the right treatment, have thrived at the farm.
“We love the Funny Farm,” said 10-year-old Graysen Jaeger, who has been volunteering with her mom for about four years.
Her favorites include Yogi the bull.
Her little sister, 6-year-old Lilah, loves Farley and Brooklyn, who laid comfortably nearby in a pink tutu as children gave her loving scratches and rubs.
She, Zaleski explained, is why she has no matching shoes or socks.
The Jaeger girls’ mom defended her.
“She’s awesome,” Marina Jaeger said of the dog who had three homes before the Funny Farm.
Another dog, Tucker, has megaesophagus, which requires him to eat sitting up in a high chair so that his food will go down, Zaleski explained to the kids. And then there’s Buddy, “the party dog,” she said.
And, of course, Adele, the chicken, who Zaleski said thinks she’s a dog.
But not matter what, they all get along “mom” Zaleski said.
The same should be for kids, “no matter what they look like, no matter what they say, be respectful of them,” she told those gathered, “just like the animals at Funny Farm.”
More about Funny Farm Rescue
Funny Farm Rescue uses 100 percent of all donations for the animals.
To learn more or help, go their website at Funny Farm Rescue
The rescue is open every Sunday and Tuesday, no matter the weather. “Even when it snows, the animals have to eat,” founder and owner Laurie Zaleski said.
Admission is free.