For a decade, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) has been home to needy farm animals at its bucolic location on Old Stage Road south of Saugerties. Seven barns and many small shelters were built, pastures were fenced, paddocks and enclosures for smaller animals were erected. New roads were woven through the 80-acre property, and a solar array now powers the entire farm operation, which has rescued well over 2,000 animals from life-or-death situations since its beginning. With the mission to care for animals in need, to educate the public on the devastating effects of agribusiness and to promote the adoption of a cruelty-free lifestyle, founder and director Kathy Stevens and crew have worked diligently, providing a safe haven for creatures that were neglected and abused, or simply forgotten in the broad sweep of our society’s economic downturn.
Now responding to the growing hardship – CAS has a waiting list of over 200 animals urgently requiring rescue – a new property has been purchased as of last November, only a short 2.5 miles from the original Sanctuary, where expansion of the operation can take place. And once again the seemingly insurmountable task of bringing an abandoned farm back to life and get it ready to house animals is underway. Rotted fencelines and sagging shelters have been taken down, and the difficult job of clearing impenetrable vines and brambles from much of the acreage has begun, many thanks to Frank Tiano of Tiano Excavation.
Additionally, an effort to raise funds for the sustainable renovation of the property has been launched, including a magnanimous offer from one donor of matching funds up to $300,000. Stevens talks about the three very beautiful, very old barns that will need assessment by architects and engineers before any work on them can be planned. Minimally, the goal is to prepare a six-to-eight-acre space for occupancy by building new shelters and installing a double fence – necessary because the property abuts Route 32. “The community has watched us, over the last eight years, turn a similar property into the haven it is today, and we did it as the funds were made available to us. It’s time to do it all again!”
In addition to direct animal aid, CAS offers workshops and school programs designed to help people experience farm animals as the unique individuals that they are, and to raise awareness of the suffering of food animals on factory farms. As a sanctuary and an educational environment, a level of “minimal acceptable conditions” for the animals is exceeded through the tireless work of volunteers and generous donors. With over $200,000 in the fund-matching coffer, earmarked strictly for the new property, CAS supporters will make the continuation of this lifesaving work possible. The donor’s offer to match up to $300,000 in vital backing extends until the end of January, and Stevens acknowledges her gratitude for those who will help to make the world a kinder, gentler place for all living beings.
Meanwhile, all those vines and brambles, densely tangled and choking the life out of the land, need to be dealt with. Work parties are being organized to whack and clear the underbrush and dead trees, some of which can be reused as fenceposts. Volunteers are encouraged to dress in brambleproof clothing and come armed with their own loppers and chainsaws (with appropriate safety equipment) to take back the forest and fields. “People need to be aware of the hazards of this kind of work. Those vines are pretty tough, and we’re concerned for people who come to volunteer and aren’t dressed properly,” says Stevens.
Whether you’ve got bushwhacking desires – great way to offload a bit of tension! – or fencebuilding skills or a few dollars that will double in size when you donate them, your contribution to the new CAS facility will be greatly appreciated. Call (845) 336-8447 and visit www.casanctuary.org for more information about how your tax-deductible donation will be put to use.