Horses, pigs, chickens, donkeys and dogs. At first glance, EPIC Outreach on the city’s Northside might look like your typical farm. It’s anything but. At EPIC Outreach, the name of the game is kindness. Its acronym stands for Educating People, Inspiring Compassion.
That was Jessie Miller’s goal when she launched the rescue in 2015. She and her husband purchased the farm in 2019 and expanded her mission to include the sanctuary.
“I believe in my heart that everybody really does have a conscience and has a compassion within them,” Miller said. “We don’t really need to teach that, we just have to nurture it. I feel like if we can teach people to be kinder to the animals and even the plants and the trees, right, then we’re kinder to each other.”
EPIC Outreach works closely with law enforcement throughout Northeast Florida, including area sheriff’s offices and Animal Control. Right now, 61 animals call the farm home.
Each saved animal has its own story of how it got to the farm. One of the most notable stories is that of Duncan, the pig. Today, he is healthy, happy and thriving. That’s a big difference from when he arrived at the sanctuary.
“He had been left to run at large in the street, kind of like a stray dog,” Miller remembered. “He was looking for food and went into a backyard where there were some dogs.”
Duncan lost his ear in the attack but was saved by a good Samaritan.
“His ear was pretty infected, and he would have died eventually from that going on internally,” Miller said.
Duncan is one of many success stories. Over the summer, a group of 12 pigs was seized by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in an animal cruelty case. Miller said they’d been left in an abandoned pool with no food or water (see photo below). EPIC Outreach nursed them back to health, vaccinated, and cared for them. They’ve all been either adopted into new homes or taken to other sanctuaries.
Remi, an older, female pig arrived just two weeks ago. She was abandoned, emaciated, and suffering from arthritis.
“She is on the thin side. She should definitely be heavier,” Miller said. “She has a little bit of a sliding limp to her.”
Remi continues to be examined by the veterinarian during her healing journey at the sanctuary.
Despite their beginnings, these animals are so much more than their past. Each one is unique and friendly — not to mention funny — while fighting to recover. A testament to their personalities shining through, 1-year-old horse Opie is quite the jokester and outgoing, despite being surrendered by someone who could not care for him.
Even those in charge of investigating and prosecuting those responsible for causing some of the harm to these animals come back and volunteer their time. State Attorney Melissa Nelson and members of her office visited the farm in October to see how the animals were doing and offer their help. That’s what EPIC Outreach is all about.
Miller said over time, the positive change in the animals’ demeanor is clear.
“If they come to us and they’re sick, injured, or underweight, for whatever reason, they start to get healthier,” Miller explained. “When they’re healthier, they become happier. Just sort of like us, right? Like human beings.”
The animals not only need love and support, but they also need the basics like food, water and health care. The costs add up with so many animals staying at the farm. Miller said, on average, it costs at least $150,000.
For those who donate, EPIC Outreach shared some information about what your donation does:
$21 provides care for one animal for three days or one bale of hay$49 Provides one week of care for one animal or two bags of feed$105 provides two weeks of care for one animal or three horse hoof trims with the vet$210 provides an entire month of care for one animal
Miller says no amount is too great to help save these precious animals and make sure they’re loved. But again, Miller’s mission is far bigger.
“Our mission and my inner core just wants to inspire more kindness and compassion for all,” Miller said. “And that’s our mission. That’s my ‘why’ for doing this work and getting up every day and doing the work, day in and day out.”
And a community call to action, no matter how small.
“You don’t have to start a sanctuary like this to make a difference,” Miller said. “You can open the door for someone, you can smile at someone, you can help an animal in need.”
Animals once in need are now living their best lives, and sharing an EPIC lesson of kindness for all of us.
EPIC Outreach gives a safe space not only to animals seized by law enforcement but also to well-intentioned people who can no longer care for their farm animals. The nonprofit does this by working closely with other rescues in the area. The nonprofit hopes to spread its mission of compassion. People in the community are allowed to come out and experience what the farm has to offer. To learn more about visiting or how you can help EPIC Outreach accomplish its mission, visit: EPIC Outreach – Saving Lives. Creating Compassion.