Barky Pines Animal Rescue and Sanctuary: A Labor of Love
Elizabeth and Steve Accomando have a passion for animals. Originally from Broward County, where they had an auto body shop, they began rescuing dogs. Elizabeth said, “My husband and I always rescued animals. When we had our auto body shop, we had ten dogs at any given time. People would bring us dogs, and strays would show up, so we were always rescuing animals.”
In addition to rescuing animals, they took care of Elizabeth’s parents. Elizabeth’s mother died unexpectedly, and her father passed away fourteen months later. “We looked at each other and said, what are we doing? We’ve been a slave to the body shop, prices were going through the roof, the taxes down in Broward, the traffic was a nightmare, so we put everything up for sale.” They intended to buy ten acres of land.
They looked in a community in the far-flung reaches of Western Palm Beach County called The Acreage, a residential area made up of homes situated on 1.25 acres of land. Elizabeth and Steve moved into their home there in May 2013.
Because of the economic downturn when they sold the body shop, they didn’t have the funds they needed to start their own rescue. When they picked up stray dogs, they would take them to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control. Elizabeth said, “What we were seeing is that every dog we couldn’t get home, that we had to take to the County, they were being put to sleep. They were killing thousands of dogs back then every year.”
“We decided to start Barky Pines out of that house, and we did. In the first year, we rescued the most pit bulls out of any rescue”. Barky Pines was in the top three in the county for pulling more dogs from the county shelter and saving them. Barky Pines is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation incorporated in 2015. “Through our efforts, it generated more interest in rescues. In 2019, the county got to “no-kill” status, which is amazing.”, Elizabeth said.
In their home in The Acreage, they had up to thirty dogs at a time. Elizabeth said, “It was crazy, just crazy. So we just started looking for land, and we found a property up the road.” That land sale didn’t work out, so they also looked for land in Indiantown and felt it was too difficult to get to Palm Beach County.
Their purchase of the Santa Rosa Groves property, west of The Acreage, didn’t come without its problems. Elizabeth said, “I had gotten a call about this property, and they said the owner would finance for four years, and I said let’s go look at it. And then when we pulled up, I said it’s a mess, but we saw the potential.” That potential was 5.75 acres of land.
The property was prone to flooding. In 2017, Barky Pines had six floods, then Hurricane Irma hit, and then another major flood occurred in 2018 with five feet of water. Each time, the animals had to be evacuated. “We had animals from Orlando to Boca.” They solved their flooding problem by becoming under the purview of the Indian Trail Improvement District, which handles drainage for the area.
Barky Pines is operated by Elizabeth, Steve, and Elizabeth’s sister, Mary. They clean all the cages and feed and care for the animals. They also have an assistant, a twenty-one-year-old young man, whose salary is funded through a grant.
Their menagerie includes three cows, two horses (one of them a miniature), sixty-six dogs, four pigs, seven cats, three ferrets, three peacocks, four turkeys, one goat, four Guinea hens, forty-five ducks, one tortoise, and sixty-five chickens. All of them are available for adoption. Elizabeth said, “Available for adoption. Family, not for food.” They also sell eggs the chickens lay.
Barky Pines is financed through donations from the community, 5K race fundraisers, grants from various nonprofits, and contest awards. They also get support from local businesses such as Costco, Moore’s Hardware Store, NAPA Auto Parts, Jabrewski’s Pizza Company, and Circle K. They won a contest through Palm Beach RV, which awarded them an RV that Elizabeth and Steve lived in while their house was being built. They get no funds from the government.
The Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League donated a bus-style RV to Barky Pines that they use as a clinic. They were awarded a grant to neuter and spay up to one hundred cats and dogs for free. A veterinarian comes twice a week to perform this service. So far, they’re doing twelve a week.
When asked about what the community should know about their struggles as a rescue and what the community can do, Elizabeth said, “First and foremost, spay and neuter. Animals are a commitment that you know. It’s for their lifetime. Please don’t get an animal with any short-term ideas; see it through to the end. Don’t give them away when they need you the most, like these old guys here, and just be aware of the struggles that rescues go through and our needs. Especially the smaller rescues that are not so well known. The bigger ones are out and about and have marketing.”
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