Davis has been traveling in the past six months, hitching a trailer to a Lexus SUV and retrieving lost souls, sometimes with her father, Eddie Davis, at the wheel. She's been to Western and Southern Maryland, to auction lots in New Holland, Pa., to Dover, Del., and even back to her home turf of Chester County to retrieve a black Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Arnie.

She's been working at this while shifting out of her life in the corporate world. Davis, who holds a doctorate from Hopkins in neuroscience and nutrition, still puts in one day a week at Medifast, the weight-loss products company based in Owings Mills, where she has worked as vice president of scientific and clinical affairs.

Two years or so ago, she started thinking about pursuing a course that was very different, but hardly out of character. When she mentioned her notion for an animal sanctuary to some of her old friends, she said, "they were all, like, 'we thought you would have been a vet or a farmer.'"

She incorporated the sanctuary in June, and in August it became a nonprofit. A website went up in the summer, showing ways to "adopt" an animal through donation and offering tours. She's planning an "animal cam" so folks can visit online.

Centuries ago, the farm was part of the enormous estate of the Hammond family, who built the brick manor house in the early 1800s. Five Hammond family members are buried under trees and simple headstones out back.

Davis lives here with her husband, Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin, and their 11-year-old daughter, Libby, and Davis' father. It's a big center-hall mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with a gate house, smoke house, pool house and finished barn, but room for animals is quickly filling up.

Plenty of room remains left for smaller beasts such as sheep, goats and chickens, but Davis says the grounds are nearing capacity for the larger ones, who need a half to a full acre each.

"Although I am saving space for a cow," she said. "I love cows."


  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts
  • nclude slug="bal-news-alerts-instoryinclude"/>