By Daniel Bird
An animal-loving mum has taken her love of furry and feathered friends to the next level – sharing her home with 110 creatures and her bed with a PIG.
Vegan single mum Laura Whelan, 36, opened Whitegate Animal Sanctuary on the Wirral, Merseyside, in August last year and has since taken in more than 100 animals including her beloved real life Babe, Buddy who was rescued from a meat farm at just five days old.
The pig who now weighs the same as a dog, now lives inside her three-bedroom home with two sons Jake, 11, and Matthew, 6, and much-loved chicken Beauty, who she even allows to nap down her t-shirt.
In total, Laura plays mother to 110 animals – including 10 dogs, five cats, 70 chickens, one cockerel, six pigs, six sheep, two goats, four turkeys, eight rabbits, two guinea pigs, three ducks and two hamsters.
The full-time dog sitter has gained thousands of social media followers for her adorable images of her animal-mad life.
Laura said: “I decided to start the sanctuary in August 2018 to rescue animals that were neglected from the animal agricultural industry.
“I’ve got just over 110 animals now.
“Buddy’s previous rescuers, who rescued him from a meat farm actually let him live in their home, so I thought it was only fair that continued when he moved in with me just nine weeks ago.
“If I’m just sat around or eating, Buddy will jump up and try and steal my food – he’s like a real dog, that’s why we call him ‘a pig-dog’.
“If he’s being cuddled up in bed ready to go to sleep, he’ll roll over, he loves it if you rub his tummy as well as tickling his ears to get him off to sleep – then he falls fast asleep.
“I’m now trying to wean him to the outdoors and to be a proper pig, because at the moment he thinks he’s actually a dog.”
Laura said Buddy has struck up an unlikely friendship her friends with four-month-old bulldog Albert, and the pair play ‘like toddlers’.
And it’s not just Buddy who has been treated to the warmth and cosiness of the family home, as Laura rescued a chicken named Beauty, earlier this month – warming the adorable feathered animal with her body by letting it sleep down her top.
Despite having a pig in the house not being to everyone’s taste, Laura said he’s just so loving, he’s fully house trained and goes outside to go to the toilet. Although he will be moving outside with the other pigs when he’s old enough.
She said: “Together, Albert and Buddy are like puppies. Albert can’t wait to get out the car and see Buddy so he can be with his best friend.
“They can play rough with one another, so I occasionally have to step in and play referee.
“My sons adore Buddy, they can’t believe that we actually have a piglet in the house.
“The kids are used to having all kinds of animals in the house now so they weren’t at fazed by it when he moved in.
While caring for so many animals can be tiring, Laura insisted seeing them in the morning is the best feeling.
She said: “I have a very close bond with my animals, some of my pigs and the sheep are really nervous when new people come to visit them.
“Every morning they’re waiting for me to bring them their breakfasts, when I let the chickens out into the paddock, it’s the best feeling – they’re just so happy.
“All of my chickens were saved from slaughter houses, where they had lived in cages and had never even seen the sky.
“Animals are precious and should be looked after, it gives me such a thrill to be able to do what I love and to finally be able to do it.”
You can donate to the Sanctuary here: https://www.facebook.com/Whitegate-Animal-Sanctuary-Wirral-277808529680888/