Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary: A Place for Compassion, Hope, and Healing
When Shartrina White lost her husband to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), she knew she had to devote herself to making the world a more compassionate place.
Having never been to Colorado before an initial job interview, she soon found herself serving as the executive director of Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary. Located in Erie, Colorado, she leads the nonprofit in its effort to rescue and rehabilitate animals who have suffered on farms while also educating humans about what they can do in their own lives to save animals and heal the planet.
Kinder Beauty had the chance to speak with White about her journey and find out what we can all do to help create a world that is full of love and free from violence.
From tragedy to healing
KINDER BEAUTY: How did you come to work with Luvin Arms?
Shartrina White: My husband died after a long battle with ALS in 2019. He lived with ALS for 20 years, every day was precious. We never knew what day would be our last day together.
We became vegan together because of a life-threatening illness I developed due to my diet of animal protein. As a marathon runner, I thought consuming animal protein was healthy and necessary, but I was so incredibly misled and wrong. After an extended stay in the hospital, not one doctor even suggested changing my diet.
I started having pain again upon resuming my “normal” diet. I knew literally in my gut; the pain was caused by "who" I was eating. The journey of learning and awareness began. I wanted to do more over the years, but Matt’s care was a full-time job, plus I worked a more-than-full-time job as the executive director of a non-profit in Florida.
As Matt lost his ability to speak, some people assumed his intellect was no longer there, refusing to look him in the eyes or only talking to me instead. I can assure you that was far from the truth. We communicated with an alphanumeric system and blinks. The comparison of how we treat individuals with whom we don’t share a common language did not elude me. Because we do not speak the same language, people assume that farmed animals don’t have intellect, emotions, friendships, connections to family, or don’t communicate. But this is simply not accurate. Humans are simply not taking the time to open their eyes and their hearts to the sentience of all beings.
After Matt died, I knew I had to devote my life to doing something to make the world a more compassionate place—a place where all beings, especially farmed animals, the most abused, have agency and voice.
I was most fortunate to find Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary.
KB: What is Luvin Arms’ mission?
SW: Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary is pioneering a new path to empathy by empowering people to make more compassionate choices for the planet, for themselves, and for all living beings.
Luvin Arms operates based on the principle of ahimsa: Nonviolence toward all living beings.
We provide world-class and lifelong social, emotional, medical, and cognitive care to abused and neglected farmed animals. Luvin Arms advocates for farmed animals by sharing the stories of our residents to inspire, educate, and empower others to embrace a more compassionate and sustainable lifestyle.
We envision a future in which all life is valued, and with the support of the community, we can inspire people across the world to expand their circles of compassion through our educational programming.
All you need is luv
KB: What might a visit to Luvin Arms involve?
SW: We give private tours and virtual tours year-round to the public, businesses, schools, and organizations. We have weekend public tours every Saturday and Sunday at 11am and 1pm from March through November.
We have many other events like Family Volunteer Day, Craft night, Movie Night, Author & Speaker Series, and Cooking Classes every month from our certified chef, Donna Marino. We also have many opportunities to volunteer and work with our residents and staff.
During our tours, visitors get the opportunity to learn about industry practices and the devastation these practices have on the environment, public health, and animal welfare. They also get to meet our residents and hear their stories, connecting with them as individuals. Of course, cuddling is an integral part of this connection process!
KB: What are some of the bad situations from which you’ve rescued farmed animals?
SW: Imagine your baby being taken at birth, and then your baby is thrown into a semi-truck with hundreds of other babies, with little to no room to breathe. Your baby and all the other babies are crying for their mothers, confused, disoriented, with no water, and no bottle during hundreds of miles of travel across the country in the sweltering heat. Upon arrival, many babies are nearly dead, and they are simply discarded and thrown into a pile of dead bodies.
This would have been the story of our beloved cow Tito—except for the actions of one compassionate truck driver. This truck driver could not bring himself to throw away these three living babies. Tito was only 10 days old when he was brought to Luvin Arms along with calves Murphy and Gideon. All three were nearly dead. Gideon died that day, Murphy lived a month, and Tito is now four and a half years old.
This is just one of the horrific situations that our residents come from. Each story is heart-wrenching, but each has a happy ending—as long as they survive the initial conditions they came from. At Luvin Arms, they are living their lives with friends surrounded by love, compassion, and recognition of who they are as individuals.
KB: When traumatized animals arrive at the sanctuary, how do you help them?
SW: Our rescued residents immediately enter quarantine where their physical and emotional health are evaluated. If they need emergency care, we immediately take them to Colorado State University, or an emergency vet clinic, depending on the species. We also evaluate them based on what they have been through.
For example, Marley was a young calf that had been taken from her mom, along with her twin brother. Marley and Maverick are two of millions that, when taken from their moms in the dairy industry, fail to survive. These two would have been thrown in the aforementioned “pile” to die.
Luckily, we were notified of their situation and were able to provide them with a forever home. Marley and Maverick spent over a month in intensive care. Unfortunately, Maverick didn’t live through the trauma of being taken from his mother. New Zealand records the number of baby cows that die simply from being taken from their mother; 7,000 die literally from heartbreak. Worldwide, one out of every two calves born dies shortly after birth.
High calf loss rates are an international welfare problem, though this is often not recognized. These loss rates have increased in recent years. It’s hard to fathom that millions of baby cows die every year because of industry practices and because the public is both complicit and unaware. This does not even account for the male baby calves that are slaughtered at 16 weeks old if they don’t die before that from the abuse and confinement on veal farms.
When Marley came to Luvin Arms, she had tears streaming down her face. We could not leave her alone, so we slept with her every night for a couple of weeks until she adjusted to her new home. After spending those nights with Marley, I am endlessly in love with her. Watching her grow up has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I can’t imagine a world without her in it. And that holds true for all 115+ of our residents.
It makes me incredibly sad to think about the billions of others suffering—that keeps me going, no matter how long or exhausting the days may be. That, and all the hugs and cuddles with our rescued animal friends.
Taking action for animals
KB: What can each of us do to help animals who suffer on farms?
SW: Act. Show love for farmed animals and all beings through your actions. Actions such as what products you purchase, and what you eat and wear daily. Dollars speak and leave a trail of either compassion or terror. We get to choose what kind of world our money supports.
You can volunteer to help others—volunteer at Luvin Arms, or you can simply spend time with rescued farmed animals. All acts of compassion help this suffering planet heal.
KB: Why are farm sanctuaries important?
SW: Have we ever wondered why there is so much human suffering on our planet? What’s the source of our suffering? Have we even taken the time to think about it?
Recently, I read some interesting statistics:
"Livestock" occupies about 45% of the earth's total land.
Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
Animal agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of all US water consumption.
The animal agriculture industry is growing enough plants to feed 10 billion people an adequate diet (by helping end animal agriculture, we could eventually end world hunger).
25 million farmed animals are killed for food and luxury every single day.
Let me share the other side of the story: the leading cause of human death today is diet-related. In the US alone, 690,882 people died of heart disease (the preponderance of evidence suggests this chronic disease is due to a diet heavy in animal products).
And here is the latest research from Dr. Michael Greger, Author of How Not To Die: after a meal of animal products, people suffer from endotoxemia—their bloodstream is awash with bacterial toxins present in the animal products. These toxins cause immediate inflammation inside our bodies, potentially leading to a variety of diseases.
If we combine these insights and put the pieces of the puzzle together, we discover something striking: a majority of modern human suffering is directly or indirectly linked to animal suffering.
When we look at Earth from outer space, it is ONE. Our planet is one big family.
Of course, all of us are on a different journey. We belong to different races, religions, nationalities, and so on. But one thing is common among us all—our dependence on the existence of the Earth. We must have peace, equality, and genuine compassion for all.
We know that animals can use their…
Eyes to see...
Ears to hear…
Noses to smell…
Mouths to eat…
Legs to walk…
Feathers to fly…
Fins to swim…
But wait...what about emotions, relationships, social life? Animals are social, they too have relationships, and they feel emotions. (We observe and talk about this all the time at Luvin Arms).
This means animals are no LESS than humans. They are not less important. They have an essential role to play in our co-existence. By killing animals, we are killing our planet...we are killing humanity!
Luvin Arms exists for one simple reason. To end all suffering in every shape, size, or form. When we end animal suffering, it will also lead to an end to human suffering. We are all animals, we are all earthlings of this planet.
Luvin Arms brings awareness to a simple fact - all species are equal. Luvin Arms reminds us all that humans do not have the right to enslave, abuse, or torture any other being. And everyone has the equal right to live freely on this planet.
At Luvin Arms, we care for our residents in the best way possible, because by doing this, we can create a bigger impact than merely talking about it. Luvin Arms is a living, breathing space for compassion.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." — Mahatma Gandhi
Compassion can heal the planet
KB: What inspires you to do your work each day?
SW: I am inspired every day by Valentine, Gracie, Tito, Marley, Samantha, Lucky, Niblet, Dali, Jared, Lenny, Gelato, Garbanzo, Felix, Gilmore, Lily, Lizzie, Benjamin, Matcha, Walter, Robyn, and the billions of others who have a name that will never be spoken.
Every day, millions of farmed animals suffer in horrific conditions. I know that most people are compassionate, and would not support the terror and suffering of farmed animals if they saw the reality that is continually forced upon these beings. Every day, humans consume suffering, and never think about it. What is this unconscious act doing to the human species?
Luvin Arms is constantly working to inspire change that supports a habitable planet for humans and non-humans. Our collective work and partnerships with compassionate businesses such as Kinder Beauty allow us to reach more people, and consequently, save countless lives.
We are all on a path of compassionate change, and by uniting together under the shared value of ahimsa, we will create a planet that nourishes and supports all life for future generations.
Maya Gottfried is the author of books for children and adults, including Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.