You Gave Dominic Back His Joy | Indraloka Animal Sanctuary

You gave Dominic Back His Joy

Dominic lost his dad in 2019 to a drug overdose.  The years leading up to his death were hard on the entire family and concerned for her own mental health and safety, his mom, Heather, took her son out of a hard situation.  They were both out of the state when Dominic’s dad passed away–something she struggled with after.  If she’d been there, could she have done more?  Even now, years later, Dominic still looks for ways to connect with his father, remembering his birthday and the things he loved.  Looking for him as if he might still come back–in a soft summer breeze or the discarded feather of a bird.

Dominic and his family are not alone in facing overwhelming grief and pain. 

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of depression increased by 25%.  That’s 25% more than the already high rates of mental health disorders.  Did you know that 80% of people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder won’t get the care they need?  And that 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14?  We are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis—and it’s affecting our children in ways hard to imagine.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

  • 1 in 6 young people ages 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for children aged 10-14.

Are you as frightened about our kids’ mental health challenges as I am?  Are you willing to help?

When you spend time with a rescued farm animal, something changes inside of you.  Light can shine in dark places.  Your heart can open to receive the unconditional love of a being who, like so many, has suffered unspeakable trauma.  In 2023, more than 4,000 children have experienced this heart-opening light and healing love.  The future is brighter because of them, and they are stronger because of you.

And yet, there are many thousands more.  Thousands like Dominic.  He had a hard few years and his mom thought that Indraloka’s summer camps could help him. 

When you give $25, $50, or even $100, we can say yes to moms like Dominic’s. 

After you hear the rest of his story, you will no doubt agree that giving him a scholarship was the right thing to do.

Losing a parent isn’t easy at any age.  Within the same year, Dominic lost his beloved dog, Snickers. He’d taken a fall.  Heather had no car, no access to veterinary care and no way to help Snickers.  He died lying in her arms.  Heather describes herself as not one to get attached to animals, yet even she admitted this was a hard loss.  Much more so for Dominic.  While they waited for friends to help transport Snickers to a veterinarian after he’d gone, Dominic continued to sit with his body, not ready to let him go.

“Dominic has always loved animals,” Heather said.  “He just wants to bring them all home.  When I saw that he might have the chance to spend more time with them at Indraloka, I had to find a way for him to go.”  Suffering two losses in such a short time—Dominic had more sadness than joy in his life.

It was your support last year that made scholarships available. 

Will you help again to support programs like summer camp? Your gift of $30 helps cover the cost of a single day of camp for one child. 

Without you, kids like Dominic would not share in the powerful, unconditional love of rescued animals.

On his first day of camp, Heather was worried that Dominic wouldn’t make friends.  “He’s quiet and easily taken advantage of because he always sees the best in others.”  But Heather needn’t have worried.  As soon as Dominic met the animals, he had friends for life. 

His favorite, of course, was beloved big pig, Dominic.  The first thing Dominic noticed about this big pig was his size.  At nearly 1,000 pounds, the size of him is startling.  But what many notice next about him are his striking eyes.  They are kind, gentle, and beautiful. 

When Dominic the boy reached out a hand to Dominic the pig, looking into each others’ eyes, a connection was made. 

Any fear the boy had vanished, and the two explored each other curiously.  The boy felt the wiry hair on the pig’s back.  The pig sniffed the new scent of this human he’d never seen before.  Soon, the laughter and grunts were contagious as other pigs and children joined in the fun. 

Dominic absorbed every story shared about the animals and their journeys.  He had a hard time understanding that people could hurt animals.  Hearing about their pain and subsequent resilience gave him strength, and made him love them even more.

At the end of each day, Dominic would talk for hours about his new friends and how much fun he had.  It was unusual behavior for him.  He didn’t usually like being away from home and he’d never expressed excitement like this before.  “Every day, he just couldn’t wait to go back.  I knew we’d found something special.  Whatever Indraloka did for my kid–he just has so much joy.”

You brought joy back to Dominic.  Your support of Indraloka’s education programs and the rescue of animals in need is helping thousands more kids like Dominic each year to find a place where they can let go of the stress and worries of life and just be a kid. 

But ours is a hurting world. 

Children across the country are suffering an unprecedented mental health crisis.  In 2021:

  • 42% of kids reported feelings of depression
  • 22% contemplated suicide
  • 10% actually made an attempt

I hope you are as shocked by these numbers as I am.  And I hope you’ll join us in doing all we can to change the trajectory of the climbing rates of self-harm, violence, depression and anxiety.

If Dominic would not have found friendship among the animals, who knows what future might await him.  Children who have lost a parent/caregiver to overdose are at increased risk for:

  • Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Social withdrawal
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced self-esteem
  • Suicide attempts and suicide
  • Conduct disorder[1]

Many children who visit Indraloka already display these symptoms. 

But what happens when they bond with the animals has the power to reverse or at least redirect some of these symptoms. 

Spending time with rescued animals:

  • Increases resilience
  • Decreases depression and anxiety
  • Increases self confidence
  • Lowers the prevalence of PTSD symptoms, including conduct disorders and suicidal tendencies
  • Promotes joy and laughter

Thank you for supporting our rescue fund, education programs, and for caring about kids like Dominic. 

A smiling kid walking next to a rescue pig

His smile says it all.  It’s a smile that you should take pride in–you helped bring it back to him.  When you give today, you’re sharing that smile with another child—without it, they might become another statistic.  Don’t let it happen.  Please give today.

With gratitude,

Indra Lahiri
Founder

PS.  I know you care—both for the children who visit and the animals whose lives are saved because of your support.  This work is not possible without your help.  Your gift will be put to work immediately, caring for the many lives you’ve saved with your generosity.


[1] ireta.org

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