After four decades of taking in injured and abandoned animals, the Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary is preparing to close its doors.
The decision is being made after the death this month of the sanctuary's founder and director, Sandy Carr, who was 74.
The sanctuary on 10.5 acres off Beards Point Road has been home over the years to turkeys and pigs, raccoons and squirrels, peacocks and geese, burros and groundhogs — all brought to Carr, or simply left on her doorstep.
"She never turned an animal away," said David Carr, Sandy's son.
The sanctuary is finding homes for its remaining animals, which include elderly horses, a llama, a sheep, a goat, and a fox that is deaf and blind, according to Gregory Trigg, who has helped manage the sanctuary for the past four years.
Sandy Carr had a lifelong love affair with animals, said David Carr, of Arnold. As a child, she would find injured animals and bring them home to care for them.
When David was young, she bought a chimpanzee at the pet store, raising it along with David and his two sisters until it got too big and had to be donated to the Baltimore zoo, he said.
The family also had horses, a donkey and other farm animals.
The Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary got its start shortly after Sandy began volunteering at the Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary in Bowie.
At the time, the Bowie sanctuary was becoming overwhelmed by the number of animals people were bringing in, David said.
So Sandy decided she would start a sanctuary of her own.
She opened the Davidsonville Wildlife Sanctuary on the family's property in the mid-1970s, according to Capital archives.
It became a full-time operation when she retired from her job as a draftsman for Anne Arundel County's planning and zoning department in 1996 after 36 years.
"She put the animals before everything else, including herself," David said. "She did not want to leave. She wanted to be there, wanted to take care of the animals. They were her biggest priority. Basically, they were her life."
Carr ran the nonprofit with help from a network of volunteers. Trigg said there are 22 volunteers who come in throughout the week to help.
The sanctuary's funding came from donations. But when the economy struggled in recent years, the donations slowed.
Sandy was more or less keeping the sanctuary open with her own money, her son said.
When she died, her family had to make a decision about what was best for the animals, Carr said. They recognized they couldn't depend on donations to keep the sanctuary open and operating to Sandy's standards.
"We just realized we can't hold this up on our own," he said.
Other sanctuaries and rescue organizations have stepped up to take in several of the animals.
Carr said any animal that has not found a home by Dec. 31, when the sanctuary will officially close its doors, will stay and continue to be cared for there.
"There's no putting animals to sleep or anything like that," he said. "Whoever remains will remain there for the rest of their natural life."