Animals mysteriously keep disappearing or being killed at a Welsh sanctuary

Sally Brown, a 54-year-old former nurse who now runs her own animal sanctuary, has been left bewildered by a series of bizarre and frightening incidents involving her animals.

Eight of the animals under her care have either disappeared or been killed, raising concerns about who might be targeting her rescue efforts.

Set in the shadow of the massive Dinorwig slate quarry near Llanberis, Sally's sanctuary was set up as an alternative to farming - she couldn't bear the thought of sending livestock away to be slaughtered. At last count, she was caring for around 60 rescued animals, including sheep, goats, horses, cats, and dogs.

Two pigs even occasionally enjoy the luxury of snuggling next to the farmhouse fire in winter or taking over the dog beds. But with fears of another attack, Sally now finds herself patrolling her 35-acre smallholding each evening, bringing her livestock closer to the house for safety. She suspects her mystery trespasser struck again just last week, after discovering a partially dismantled livestock fence.

She said she also found evidence of a sheep being dragged from a field, "but when I did a head count, I had a full quota, so I can only assume the sheep managed to get away," reports North Wales Live. If this was the case, it was the sanctuary's second close call: just before Christmas a ram vanished from its well-kept pen only to return two weeks later. "I don't know how that happened," said Sally. "Flash was a rescued orphan who would have screamed his head off if taken."

Other animals haven't been so lucky, and Sally fears things are getting worse. Locks and fences have been messed with, and incidents are happening more often. The first to go missing, in late 2019, was a ram named Basher. At the time Sally thought it was a one-off and nothing else happened for two years.

In October, 2022, Adele the ewe was killed by a dog, which Sally thought must have been lifted over a fence. Next to disappear, in January, 2023, was Noreen, a sheep who loved her food. In April, 2023, Blackie went missing. Like other rescued rams, he'd been neutered to stop the cash-strapped sanctuary being overrun with more hungry mouths.

Elle the ewe disappeared in August, 2023. Then, in November, Sally lost one of her most loved animals, a "beautiful" seven-year-old Welsh Mountain goat named Joey who simply vanished one day. "As a kid, he'd been left behind when his herd was chased by a dog," said Sally. "I bottle-fed and hand-reared him, and he was so gentle." 

After Flash, Christine vanished on New Year's Day, 2024. In late February, Junior was mauled to death in her enclosure. "I think whoever was responsible was trying to take her," said Sally. "They probably put a dog into the field to round her up. After that incident, a friend told me I had to do something about it to report it to the police, which I did. I'm quite a private person and I don't want to make a fuss. But I love my animals, so I had to put them first, I had to try and stop it. Perhaps someone will know what's going on, perhaps the person responsible will lie low if they know the police are involved."

Sally doesn't advertise her sanctuary for fear of being swamped by rescues. But word has got out. Some animals are brought to the farmgate and Sally finds it hard to say no. Many are under-nourished, a few have been physically abused, some are just unwanted. Most have problems that need overcoming. "If I can help, I will," she said.

Sometimes, Sally finds her own rescues. "Recently I became aware of a cat that had been straying in Llanberis for some time, so I took it home," she said. But looking after all the animals costs "several thousands of pounds each year" for food and vet visits. Sally also needs to keep the fences strong so the animals stay safe. She hopes to make them even better: "I'd like to double-fence the fields," she explained. "The animals are used to bucket feeding and will come running to fences, even to strangers." She believes her pets would protect themselves because they're not wild: "Yet, being pets, and being spoiled, they have a sense of entitlement and would fight like anything if someone tried to take them."

Sally has a number of jobs, including looking after people at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor and helping out at a mountain hut in Ogwen Valley. She sells firewood from her land and makes her own skin cream, called Blue Peris Farm Cream. She started making the cream because her hands were very sore: "After years of nursing and cleaning my hands, my hands were dry, chapped and my knuckles were bleeding," she said. "I searched everywhere for something that might help.

When nothing worked, I developed my own skin creams." Her creams are made with beeswax and flowers. You can buy them at the Bulkeley Hotel in Beaumaris on Anglesey. Sometimes people give money to help the sanctuary, but mostly Sally pays for it herself. "Last year a lady made a gift that kept me going for a whole month," Sally shared. "I'm really grateful for anything, even a bag of carrots is a big help. Despite what's happened, I've just got to keep going. After each incident, I pick myself up again and carry on. I have no alternative: if I didn't, all these wonderful animals wouldn't have a home."