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27 Sept 2022

Animal-mad vegan couple who met working at a farmyard sanctuary celebrate tying the knot in photoshoot alongside their favourite sheep

Animal-mad vegan couple who met working at a farmyard sanctuary celebrate tying the knot in photoshoot alongside their favourite sheep

A vegan couple who fell in love caring for rescued sheep and pigs at an animal sanctuary celebrated tying-the-knot this year in a photoshoot with some of their favourite farmyard friends after an intimate mountain ceremony.

Starting work at her local farmyard sanctuary in Victoria, Australia, in 2017, content creator Kelly Dinham, 35, found herself falling in love with not just the animals but her now-husband – 36-year-old operations manager Kyle Behrend.

After a sunrise proposal against a mountain backdrop in March 2021, the couple said their vows in an intimate outdoor ceremony in February this year, before a photoshoot with their favourite rescue sheep – whose names fondly include Mr Invisible and The Doctor.

The animal-loving couple now live in a four-bed home just a five minute drive from the sanctuary in Lancefield in Victoria, Australia, with Kelly’s 13-year-old daughter Isabelle and their nine rescue cats and four rescue dogs.

“Animals mean the world to us,” Kelly said.

“Every day I am excited to get up and work and see the animals and their incredible personalities.”

She said: “We are helping create a kinder world for these forgotten animals and it means even more to do that with the person I love.”

While Kelly has always loved animals, her perspective toward them was completely altered when her daughter was born in 2009.

Isabelle was born to Kelly and her late husband, who passed away in 2019 but hadn’t had contact with the family since she was a toddler.

Kelly said: “I grew up surrounded by cats and dogs, so I have always loved animals, but after I gave birth to my daughter in 2009, I really made the connection with how we treat animals raised for food.

“I knew I wanted my daughter to love animals and I just started thinking that I couldn’t do that if I was still eating them and using products that tested on them.”

Becoming vegan that year and cutting all animal products from her family’s life, Kelly decided to start volunteering with various animal rescue groups.

Supported by her family, who also became vegan, Kelly decided to start her own online vegan grocery store with her mum in 2011.

“There weren’t many vegan options in Adelaide at the time and it grew into a real grocery store and started a sanctuary for farm animals where my mum still works,” she said.

But wanting to move away in 2017 to the village of Lancefield, Kelly found work at Edgar’s Mission, a non-profit sanctuary for rescued farmed animals, where her husband-to-be was already working.

“I first met Kyle ten years ago when I went to Edgar’s Mission for a tour and we kept bumping into each other at sanctuaries and vegan festivals over the years,” she said.

“Then when I started working at Edgar’s Mission with him in 2017, we just fell in love with each other and our similar values and interests.”

While Kyle works as an operations manager for the sanctuary, Kelly is a content creator, documenting the lives of the sanctuary’s 430 rescued animals across its 153 acres on social media – where she boasts over 32,000 followers on her personal Instagram and TikTok pages.

“No two days are ever the same at the sanctuary,” she said.

“It’s such an incredible place to be, surrounded by like-minded people, working to make the world a kinder place for animals.”

And while Kelly loves all the animals, she is particularly fond of the sheep.

“The sheep all have different personalities, likes and dislikes,” she said.

“I know you shouldn’t have favourites but there are some that I have formed closer friendships with, including The Doctor, who is this very fluffy, woolly sheep with the cutest little face and wrinkled nose.

“He was found and rescued in the Australian bush, where he had escaped a farm and had 21 kilos of extra wool covered in barbed wire and sticks.

“At first, he was terrified of people but slowly over the last three years with us, he has come to love us, and will come over to you and nuzzle his head into your neck and cuddle you.”

Another of Kelly’s favourite sheep is Mr Invisible, who joined the sanctuary last year.

“He was rescued as a lamb, where he had been unable to stand because he was so weak and had his eyes pecked by birds,” she said.

“The vet sewed his eyelids together to give them a chance to heal and after a few months, the stitches came off and he regained vision in one eye.

“Now has one of the sweetest, funniest personalities and is always bouncing around the paddock.”

While some couples would avoid working together, Kelly said it has strengthened their relationship.

“People always ask us if we get sick of working together and seeing each other every day but I think we’re lucky because we love working together and working towards the same vision of trying to make the world a better place,” said Kelly.

“We are both driven by that passion.”

Kyle surprised Kelly by proposing to her in March last year, hiking across Grampians National Park.

“We were away for the weekend hiking and we were waiting to take pictures of sunrise but just as the sun was coming up, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him,” she said.

“It was so beautiful.”

For the big day on February 21 this year, Kelly and Kyle planned an intimate ceremony in Macedon Regional Park, with Isabelle, their dogs and a few close friends and family.

“It was so special,” she said.

“After we had the ceremony, we went to Edgar’s Mission sanctuary and had photos with the sheep and vegan pizza.

“We wanted to share the things most important to us on the day and of course, part of that was visiting Mr Invisible and The Doctor and some of the other sheep.”

She said: “Thankfully they behaved themselves, and came up for a cuddle and photos, before doing their own thing.”

The couple’s love of animals doesn’t stop at the sanctuary either as their home is also densely populated with pets.

“I rescued my first cat in 2005 when I was 19 and it’s just gone on from there,” Kelly said.

She added: “It sounds like a crazy number but we have nine cats now, which means there’s always a cat around looking for cuddles.

“We already had two older rescue dogs, Border Collie, Violet, Chihuahua cross-terrier Maggie, and we have just adopted two puppies, called Honey and Bear.

“My daughter loves animals too – she is definitely a little crazy, cat lady.”

With no plans to stop caring for the animals and promoting the sanctuary’s work, Kelly said she hopes they can help change others’ views.

“I love sharing the different animal’s stories and see their personalities grow through rehabilitation, therapy and kindness,” she said.

“If we can encourage people to rethink their views towards animals and create a kinder world for them, then that would mean everything.”

You can follow Kelly’s TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@kellydinham

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