Finding Sanctuary

October 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Farm Sanctuary, 2008

Farm Sanctuary, 2008

Sanctuary noun 1. A place of refuge.  2. A shelter from danger or hardship.

Finding sanctuary is not something most Americans think about regularly–the lucky ones of us don’t need to at all. Some of us have found it already, and some are still searching. But for the majority of animals on this earth, farm animals, the idea of sanctuary–a place of shelter, protection, and safety, is but a distant dream.

Farm Sanctuaries are some of the most beautiful places in the world. They rescue animals who lived lives as machines in factories, and were in line to die as products being manufactured. Sanctuaries open their doors to animals who have lived through a more horrific hell than any one of us could begin to imagine, and provide them with peace and freedom from the incessant suffering and pain, both mental and physical, that had plagued their prior lives. Farm Sanctuaries are a glimmer of hope in an ice cold world.

I was given the opportunity to visit Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY this past summer for their annual Hoe Down event, and the animals I met there touched my heart in a way I never knew any creature could. It was my first time meeting a cow, and I nearly lost my breath at their patient, gentle characters. The saying “gentle giant” took on a new meaning, for never before had I experience a creature (or person) as gentle, nor as big, as those cows.

And to think, animals in factory farms don’t even have enough room to turn around.

I was so moved my experience with these incredible animals that our society treats as commodities that I wanted to share my experience. As the president of the Case Animal Rights & Ethics Society (CARES) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, I came back to school this year ready to organize a sanctuary trip for students. I found a closer Sanctuary in Ravenna, Ohio, called Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, and planned a trip there.

The trip was fantastic. We took a 15 person Case van down to Ravenna and got to spend the afternoon with a farm full of incredibly friendly, not to mention playful, eager and nuzzley farm animals. Here’s a little taste of the trip:

These gentle horses were rescued from slaughter. Horses that can no longer be slaughtered in the US are auctioned off and instead shipped to Mexico for slaughter. The whole process, from auction to transport to slaughter, is incredibly traumatic for the horses. What a sad way to treat a spent horse that not only trusts you, but often would do anything for you.

The event was a huge success, and everyone that came had a fantastic and enlightening experience. Yearly trips to the Sanctuary will definitely become a CARES tradition. To all you readers, if you have never been to a Farm Sanctuary, I cannot recommend it enough. I guarantee it will change your life, as it did mine.



  1. Jordan said,

    Grats on organizing this. Cows do rule, I hung out with some in Italy once, and they are way awesome.

  2. Theresa said,

    Thank you for giving more publicity to Farm Sanctuary! And the photos are so heart-warming, showing the real feelings, personalities…and *happiness of the animals connecting with caring humans.

    I had planned to go to the Farm Sanctuary this Oct. 08 for a workshop. I was also going to visit the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. But try as I might, I was unable to go at the last minute.

    I am very interested in forming an animal sanctuary. The workshop was for this purpose. I was also hoping to network. I know I cannot do it alone.

    My life’s journey has led me to dedicating myself to these animals. My passion. I am also very active in ending the horse slaughter for human consumption.

    The animal rights movement has made tremendous gains. But for humans in animal advocacy, and all the animals, it is not fast enough. But we will not stop. The cliche’ is true: “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” ~ MLK

  3. mmg said,

    Beautiful pictures, beautiful story!
    I went to Farm Sanctuary shortly after going vegan and it totally solidified all my reasons for going vegan in the first place. The animals were just amazing.

    Also, that little boy in that picture is so FREAKING CUTE!!!

  4. meat eater said,

    i ask you “what will you do for the rest of the cows?”. People who eat meat keep cows like this living because if people stoped eating meat there would be no sanctuaries keep the millons of cows alive that would be to costly to keep alive.

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