Disneyworld may claim that it’s the happiest place on earth, but I beg to differ. Last weekend fellow members of my MeetUp group Montclair Vegans and I hopped in our cars and drove to up Saugerties, New York for a visit to Catskill Animal Sanctuary. If it’s not the happiest place on earth, it’s at least the happiest places on the East Coast.
Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS) was founded in 2001 by Kathy Stevens and is a 110-acre haven for horses and farm animals rescued from cruelty and neglect. Since it first opened, CAS has rescued over 2,000 animals and has worked with law enforcement to bring the animals’ abusers to justice. In addition to rescuing animals, Kathy and CAS offer educational programs to raise awareness to the plight of animals raised for food. CAS has a new Compassionate Cuisine culinary program designed at teaching people how to cook delicious, plant-based food, and they just opened The Homestead Guest House – a beautiful B&B located on the sanctuary’s grounds.
Our tour of CAS was led by the amazing Kathy Stevens. Kathy used to be a high school English teacher, but after being offered the job of school principal, she decided she needed a change and opened CAS instead. Kathy is truly one of the most compassionate and inspirational people I’ve ever met. She believes in a joyful approach to activism and works tirelessly for the sake of the animals. Kathy spent about two and a half hours taking us around the CAS grounds and introducing us to the animals. She knew every single animal’s name, along with the stories of their abuse, how they ended up at the sanctuary and how well they recovered. Since I was first introduced to the animals of CAS through Kathy’s wonderful books Where the Blind Horse Sings and Animal Camp, it was really incredible to have her as our tour guide.
Her talk was disrupted by some of the members of the Underfoot Family. The Underfoots are animals that wander the CAS grounds freely. Arthur just wanted to say hi to all of us and find out what we were doing.
Buddy the blind horse is shown on the cover of Where the Blind Horse Sings, but he’s not the horse that’s referred to in the tittle. There have been three horses named Buddy who have lived at CAS, and all three have been blind. Kathy warned us never to name a horse Buddy.
My time visiting CAS was short, but the animals’ stories will stay with me for quite some time, and I’m already looking forward to visiting them again!