Farmer and entrepreneur Dan McKernan is changing the face of animal rescue.
CHELSEA, MI — Dan McKernan of Chelsea’s Barn Sanctuary has dedicated his life to taking care of down-on-their-luck barnyard animals, and the home he’s built for their rest, rehab, and day-to-day life is available for us all to see thanks to the miracle of social media.
Animal rescue missions usually conjure images of sad, scrawny cats and dogs with Sarah McLachlan playing softly in the background. But the Barn Sanctuary does things a little differently. The abused and neglected animals that get new leases on life at this rescue center get the VIP treatment — and even the pigs are tucked in at night.
What makes The Barn Sanctuary really stand out from other animal rescue groups is its savvy use of social media. Before the coronavirus hit Michigan in March, McKernan regularly took fans and supporters on walking tours of the farm. The young farmer still uploads some videos to the sanctuary’s social media pages from behind the wheel of his tractor, taking viewers along for the ride from the chicken coop to the barn.
You can still visit The Barn Sanctuary during the pandemic. Check out their many social media accounts for live video tours. McKernan is even auctioning off an exclusive virtual tour online.
But if you’re gonna stick it out at home for now, you can still plan your post-pandemic visit and see all the sanctuary has to offer online.
Browse photos of the cute critters living their best lives at The Barn Sanctuary:
Move Over, Old MacDonald
McKernan is nearly as famous as his animals, with followers often inquiring about his dating life. When the Barn Sanctuary kicked off their first extended online auction Tuesday night to raise funds, the farmer and entrepreneur chose to capitalize on the interest and auctioned off a “Date with Dan.”
“It won’t be a date-date or anything romantic like that,” he said before the auction began, “but I will be traveling to you for lunch and getting a chance to talk about our mission.”
McKernan’s nonprofit animal rescue runs completely on donations and the help of a small team to care for the dozens of animals that occupy the farm, and the ongoing auction is one creative effort to make ends meet during the pandemic.
Nearly 100 items are available in the online auction, but one of the most exciting aspects of the whole shebang was the kickoff event, which featured artist and muralist Amy Burkman and actor-comedian Tig Notaro.
The initial fundraiser, which featured live speed-painting by Burkman, did experience some technical glitches early on, but Notaro’s humor helped keep the virtual party going.
The auction ends July 23. Browse items or make donations here.