A local safe-haven for animals located just outside of Cochrane is in need of public support.

Free Spirit Sanctuary (FSS) provides lifelong refuge for domestic and wild horses, donkeys, mules as well as other farm animals that have been rescued from abuse, neglect and slaughter.

Sandie Hucal is the Founder and Director of FSS and she says that the organization largely depends on public donations to stay afloat, and this year has been a struggle.

"Obviously it's been a really tough year for everybody and Alberta in particular," says Hucal. "That's definitely been reflected in our ability to fundraise, and on top of that we had a whole string of veterinary emergencies which really put us back."

Those veterinary emergencies stretched the sanctuary's resources to the limit and cost them close to $20,000 at a time when they were preparing to stock up on their winter hay supply.

With donations down, and winter approaching the FSS team realized they needed to get innovative to come up with alternate means to raise funds.

Hucal says that the nonprofit organization decided to launch a virtual art auction to raise funds for the sanctuary.

"We thought this would be a fun way to engage our supporters- offering some unique holiday gift options," says Hucal. "While raising the funds needed to continue providing sanctuary for these deserving animals."

'Art for Animals' will feature photos, paintings and other creative works by both professional and hobby artists, including some local Cochrane artists.

"We're probably going to have close to 90 pieces by the time everything's all entered in," says Hucal. "Locally, we have got Kateryn Sutton, Sue Penry and Rose Pawlak are all local artists right from Cochrane who have donated."

Hucal says with a diverse selection of artwork up for bid, there will be something for everyone.

The online auction is currently underway and will run until November 8th, allowing plenty of time for shipping prior to the Holiday season.

The auction can be previewed here.

Hucal says that the sanctuary will gratefully accept donations of artwork focused on animals and nature until November 4 at noon.

If you would like to make a donation to Free Spirit Sanctuary you can do so here.