Julia Pickett celebrated the grand opening of what she calls a "little slice of heaven" Saturday in Lexington. 

Pickett, a vet tech, opened JP Farms, a ten-acre animal sanctuary located at 168 Beck Taylor Place in Lexington, after making the decision to leave her job a few months ago. 

"I wanted to make a safe environment that everyone can enjoy and something that is cost efficient," Pickett said. "This is an animal sanctuary, so all the animals are saved from slaughters. We just saved two more this week." 

Animals currently living at JP Farms have all been saved from being taken to animal slaughterhouses. "One of my thoroughbreds won $160,000 in a race," Pickett said. "And next thing you know she was on a slaughter truck to Mexico."

According to Pickett, one major reason behind horses being sent to slaughters is because the owners are not satisfied with the way the horses perform in races, leading them to send their animals off to be killed. "They see them as an asset and nothing else," she said.

Opening JP Farms has come as a win-win for Pickett and the animals. She has been able to home horses, calves, goats, chickens and pigs, many of them saved from slaughters, offering them the chance to live a happy life.

Pickett has also created a space for the community to gather safely. "We opened up the farm and it was a huge success, because there’s nothing like this around," she said. "I wanted the community to get back out there, but also be able to socially distance."

She offers horseback riding lessons for children ages three all the way up to adults, birthday parties, a petting zoo, and is working on having special education groups come out to JP Farms for sensory learning activities.

Pickett said she relies heavily on food, monetary donations and volunteer help and encourages the community to spend time on the farm with the animals.

Those interested in visiting JP Farms, learning more information or donating can contact Julia Pickett through the farm Facebook page or by phone at (803) 497-5677.

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