Saugerties Sanctuary provides home for rescued animals and education for visitors – Daily Freeman

SAUGERTIES, NY – For over 20 years, Kathy Stevens and her team at Catskill Animal Sanctuary have let love and compassion guide their work to save farm animals in need.

Stevens, the founder and executive director, said the sanctuary started on property borrowed from Kerhonkson and focused on a handful of farm animal species. Over the past two decades, however, the sanctuary has grown to 150 acres in Saugerties, on Old Stage Road, where it focuses on 11 different species of farm animals including horses, cows, pigs. , sheep and turkeys.

“After a decade as a high school English teacher, I decided to combine my love for teaching and learning with my love for animals,” Stevens said of the early days of the sanctuary. “And after a long period of research, I realized that there was a real need for sanctuaries for farm animals, a safe space for farm animals; but also to help people make the link between their food and animal suffering.

Stevens said most people identify as animal lovers and think animals shouldn’t be in pain. Yet, through their daily choices, people inflict suffering on billions of animals, she said, adding that there is an impact on the environment as well.

“So Catskill Animal Sanctuary was born out of a desire to bring these things together,” Stevens said. “A place where people could come and fall in love and have chickens sitting on their knees, and turkeys run up to them when we call their names, and pigs crumble to rub their bellies, and cows lick their faces.” again and again. “

Catskill Animal Sanctuary founder Kathy Stevens talks about the history of the blind horses at Saugerties, NY Sanctuary including Appaloosa, 31, shown here Wednesday, December 8, 2021 (Tania Barricklo / Daily Freeman)

Stevens said most people don’t live in a world where it’s easy to interact with farm animals. When they get the chance, however, epiphanies do occur, she said.

That is why education is one of the main components of the work of the sanctuary, along with the direct rescue of farm animals.

“We are a teaching sanctuary,” Stevens said. “And I believe you teach respecting the intelligence and autonomy of the individual and arming him with the truth, but in a loving and supportive manner.”

Stevens also said she and her staff were honest about their own experiences transitioning to a plant-based diet. She said it can take years for someone to become fully vegan and the shrine is there to help and support them on this journey. Stevens said she herself spent more years as a meat eater than she had experienced as a vegan.

The educational programs of the sanctuary come in various forms. From April to November there are public tours where people can see and interact with the animals that inhabit the sanctuary. This includes the “Underfoot Family,” a crew of animals allowed to roam free throughout the day, including among visitors.

Stevens said visitors might have a sheep or goat approaching them or a turkey trying to get in their car or steal a treat. Sometimes they just pass by, and that’s okay too, she said.

The sanctuary also has an area where its less outgoing animals reside, Stevens said.

In addition to public tours, the shrine offers a free “Virtual Shrine” tour at 1 p.m. every Thursday on its social media pages, as well as paid virtual tours for groups.

Along with the tours, the Sanctuary offers ‘Compassionate Cuisine’ vegan cooking classes and operates The Homestead, a bed and breakfast where visitors can have an immersive experience.

Stevens, the author of two books on her sanctuary work, also has a weekly podcast, called “Herd Around the Barn,” in which she talks to a variety of people about animal rescue topics. Among his guests were a climatologist, an expert in animal hoarding and the founder of Tofurkey.

In its more than two decades of existence, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary has directly saved over 5,000 animals, but it has also helped countless other animals whose lives have been spared because the sanctuary has helped people to become vegans, Stevens said. Every time someone adopts a plant-based diet, she said, they are saving 75 to 100 animals a year, and those people then impact others around them.

“The sanctuary experience forces people to realize some deep truths,” Stevens said. “Number one, we all want our lives. Second, animals, regardless of their species, have all the emotions we feel. Third, we all want to live happily and avoid suffering. And, number four, I don’t care if you are a person or a pig, the pain and suffering and fear are the same regardless of the species.

Stevens said many animals in the Catskill Animal Sanctuary have been saved from hoarding and starvation. She said a hoarder was based in the New Paltz area and would move whenever she encountered problems and picked up animals along the way, including ducks, chickens, horses and cows.

This was the first hoarding case the shrine dealt with in the year it opened, Stevens said. She said the case involved the rescue of 17 animals, together with the Ulster County SPCA, that had been locked in a 12-by-12-foot stall with the remains of a rotting cow.

Many years later, the sanctuary took its last animal from the same accumulator, Stevens said: a horse that was chained to a tree in the woods by its leg and at one point endured a tropical storm.

“Someone had come by and spray painted a target on his rump,” Stevens said. “She didn’t have access to water. And we had to work with the SPCA and many people concerned to finally, after a year of efforts, keep this poor animal away from this woman.

The sanctuary has also, over the years, developed expertise in caring for animals with special needs and geriatric animals, Stevens said. She said he hosted four blind horses, for example, four of them named Buddy.

Buddy Three and Buddy Four currently live at the sanctuary and are dating to a pasture, Stevens said. She said they also have adjacent booths with a large window cut out so they can hang their heads in each other’s spaces and be together.

Stevens said the Catskill Animal Sanctuary collects the animals it can or networks with others to save them. She said the sanctuary, which depends on donations and grants to do its job, has little space to house the animals.

“And then our job, our privilege, is to do everything in our power to tell those broken animals that have not known safety, security, consistent food, consistent shelter, and they have no certainly not known love, “You’re fine. You’re safe. And your lives matter,” Stevens said.

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