Recently, founding member and guitarist for American death metallers BROKEN HOPE, Jeremy Wagner, announced he donated his entire rural Illinois farm–the buildings and land–to an animal rescue and rehabilitation organization, as reported by examiner.com. The noted fiction horror writer and metal musician stated on his Facebook fan page:
“Today I made the biggest donation of my life. I signed off and gave away my entire farm to the animal rescue/rehab group I’ve been working with since I purchased the property last summer. I’m too busy to manage and enjoy the place, but it does my heart & soul good knowing I have now given a refuge and paradise for many animals who will be given help and love and new homes for many years to come. My generosity and goodwill for the benefit of animals will never stop. Giving my farm away for free was a super-huge sacrifice, but it was an awesome one, and it won’t be the last time I do it. In this life, money doesn’t mean shit if you don’t do good with it. So I do as much good as I can before I leave this rock. Cheers!”
Wagner’s generosity was celebrated by fellow Metal maniac and animal advocate Donald Tardy (drummer with Obituary), via Obituary’s Facebook page:
“Our good friend Mr. Jeremy Wagner of Broken Hope did something yesterday that deserves recognition and praise. He donated his entire farm and land to an animal rescue group… As animal lovers ourselves we found this to be one of the kindest and coolest things someone in the Metal music world has ever done for a great cause. Jeremy is one of just a few people that helps us out by donating to the Metal Meowlisha and our efforts. For that, I say thank You Mr. Wagner for being an amazing person and such a good friend. You rule Brother!”
Examiner was lucky enough to catch up with Jeremy Wagner for a brief Q and A, while he was on tour in Europe with Broken Hope, to ask him more about this amazingly generous donation. Here is what he had to say about his farm gift to the well-deserving Illinois animal rescue.
When did you first become involved with animal welfare, beyond pet ownership?
I first got involved a few years ago when my family made a huge donation to save a local “no kill” shelter, and we succeeded in keeping that in business! Then more large donations were made to a pit bull rescue organization and a feral cat organization in Florida. My family and I have been contributing to animal welfare for some time to select organizations. I want to save the entire world…I really wish I could!
What was the catalyst that made you decide to donate the property? Was there a specific event, happening, or conversation that made you decide to make the donation?
I first bought the farm property last summer (2014) and paid for the whole place in full out of my pocket. I didn’t even tell my family until I was done, and they thought I was nuts! Anyway, I bought it to live there, rehab the entire thing, and then begin animal rescue on a large scale…to save any creature from a mouse to a horse and give them rehab and new homes, or keep them on the farm to live out their lives happily and with love. I had the entire property and buildings restored and modernized with new everything! It’s awesome what’s happened there. Also, part of my farm was meant as recreation for my passions for ATV/dirt biking on the acreage and a small target/shooting on range on the back 40.
That said, a culmination of things happened that made it not so easy to deal with–like my touring and personal life, problems with construction deadlines, anonymous complaints to the county that my farm was violating agricultural things, etc. The friend and animal crusader who I had managing the property was also trying to deal with my load of issues, and it got harder and harder.
The catalyst for me to donate the property came when my farmhouse burnt down and killed a few dogs and cats inside. It was a huge blow to me as I loved those animals so much, and I’d just put a mountain of money and blood into renovating the entire home from top-to-bottom. The fire took the wind out of me and it added to a great deal of stress I was dealt with just trying to supervise the property from afar. You see, I write music and tour the world a lot with my band, Broken Hope, I’m also a published novelist and I need to write novels full-time… And then there’s family time, which is always paramount. My personal life and artistic passions take up too much time to do much of anything else, and I realized this the deeper I got into my farm passion. So, this is when I decided to give my farm away to good people who can manage everything there, live there, and really care for the place and all animals within. Moreover, donating the farm did my heart and soul a great deal of good, as did the stipulation of my gift: the farm’s mission is to always aid animals in need and offer their sanctuary and this mission is to never be violated.
What is the name of the lucky organization receiving your generous farm donation, and how did you first come to work with this particular group?
Recycled Pits is one part of the farm that helps rescue dogs all over the country. That, and another undisclosed-yet-related organization is the beneficiary of my gift.
I first connected with this group when I had 2 cats who needed a new home 7 years ago. I was really fortunate that they helped me place my cats, which I loved and broke my heart to part with. And they not only found my cats a loving home, but they also send me pictures of them to this day! So, I didn’t forget that, and I guess you can say that I’m good to those who have been sincerely good and helped me in my time of need.
What future plans does the organization have for utilizing the property—what kind of animals, how many, petting farm, adoptions, organic farming other than animal rescue, etc.?
The future plans will continue with the mission to aid all creatures great and small. In my time with the farm since last summer, we’ve been able to save some 40 + dogs, dozens of cats, rats, raccoons, and a rooster. I had new stalls, new electric, water, and heat installed in the barn, so now it looks like horses, cows, and other livestock destined for death will be saved and plug in there as well. Like I said, all creatures–a mole to an elephant–are welcome there, as long as the “Animal Farm” can do their work professionally and within the law.
Will you be involved with their efforts in the future, lend a hand at your old farm?
Yes. The organization won’t let me go. Ha ha ha! That’s okay, I love the luxury of now visiting the farm to see the full-time animal residents there, to breathe country air, and doing it all as a guest. I’ll always support them, too. As long I have the means, others in need will have my help in any capacity I can offer. This applies to 4 and 2-legged friends.
How can others piggyback on your support of this an other worthy animal rescues? How can we help them get the farm up and running as a functional rehab/rescue/sanctuary?
The farm is on its legs with the farmhouse rebuilding and with more animals trickling in. I ask readers to check out Recycled Pits in Illinois if you want to help, here: https://facebook.com/Recycled.Pits
Donations for Recycled.Pits can be made for one of their current medical cases at: http://www.youcaring.com/pet-expenses/outstanding-boarding-bill/53962
If you love cats and want to donate to my favorite cat rescue organization, then check out, Metal Meowlisha:
Donations for Metal Meowlisha can be made to their PayPal account at the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org or to VCA Carrollwood Cats in Tampa, FL.
Thanks to all for reading and for your animal love!
And thanks to the amazingly big-hearted Jeremy Wagner for donating land and a home to countless animals now and in the years to come! While the genres of Hard Rock and Metal musicians still seem to carry the stigma of dark-hearted heathens to outsiders, it is acts like Wagner’s that bring a light of humanity and compassion to the much-misunderstood community. There are just as many soft hearted animal advocates within the metal world as there are in the rest of the world, perhaps even more. One simply needs to see beyond the black t-shirts and aggressive sonic front to realize rockers are caring, thoughtful people too—people who deeply about our planet and its inhabitants. Jeremy Wagner is a prime example not only of a rocker who gives, but a human who cares far beyond himself.