Sometimes, things are just meant to be, even if it wasn’t at all what you expected. That’s how one Jefferson County man is looking at his new life - taking in abused and mistreated animals.

“There was this immediate sense of relief that this puppy is not going to be far away from his dad,” Jeff Garnsey told Spectrum News 1 in 2017.

It was one of those stories you just never forget.

It was 2017, when a man was out walking with his dog in the Town of Clayton, when he suffered a medical issue. He was lost and unable to move, and time was running out as a major snow storm was headed that way. Police and other rescue crews were doing all they could to located him, but it was Garnsey, the property owner, who took it upon himself to search, too.

He hopped on his tractor and headed out to a tree stand he often used, to get a better view.

He saw something in the distance, and when he got there, he was greeted by an excited puppy. He got them both to safety just in time.

“As soon as I turned him over to the EMS folks, the puppy pops his head out of my jacket and starts kissing my face. That’s when the significance just hit me like a hammer,” Garnsey said in 2017.

The experience inspired him and changed his life forever.

“We were going to build a big beautiful house out behind the barn. This was so far away from the plan, that it surprised me," Garnsey said of his life in 2021.

Now, five years later, the plan for a dream house on the expansive property suddenly became home to something that meant so much more. Off a recommendation, an animal rescue reached out to Garnsey to see if he could take in an abused pig. He said yes.

Now his land is known as Garnsey’s Feral Acres. It’s his own animal rescue with nearly 60 animals now, and it runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s now Garnsey’s life, a life he now knows he was meant to live.

“When that first animal arrived, it completed what the farm was supposed to be. This had been a dormant dairy farm for almost 50 years. Nothing had lived on it. Now, everything that comes to it will live its entire life on it,” Garnsey said.

Earlier this summer, Garnsey took us on the same ride on his farm they took when they met after the initial story aired in 2017. It was a chance to reflect on the moment that changed the course of Garnsey’s history.

“What could have happened to that gentleman? Odds are he would have passed away on the farm. It would have been a sad story that the farm carried with it. The print would have stayed on it. You would have felt it every time you came on the property. But, that’s not what happened,” he said.

As Garnsey’s farm continues to grow, so unfortunately do the costs. He’s currently building an addition that can house animals inside during the winter. It’s a roughly $150,000 price tag.

The local community has pitched in to the point it is almost paid off, but he is accepting donations on his website for that and to keep the animals fed.