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Our Weekend at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Monday, January 22, 2018






This weekend Chris and I stayed overnight at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York. I can easily say this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I am going to go over the entire weekend in an attempt to fully describe our encounter. This was a surprise from my husband for my 31st (yikes) birthday, and it was the best gift I could have received. I had heard of the Catskill Sanctuary and I even follow them on social media, but I had no idea that there is a homestead on the property in which you could book a stay. When Chris finally told me what we were doing this weekend, I actually cried! To get such a hands-on experience and to be able to interact and learn about these animals was a dream come true. I could not wait to go!

From our house it was about a three-hour drive, and while my husband’s driving sometimes makes me want to vomit, it was hardly unbearable. Venturing further and further into the mountains was beautifully scenic and almost relaxing to witness. The time seemed to go by quicker than expected. As we made the final turn onto the winding backroad to the entrance of the sanctuary we were greeting by a lone doe grazing in someone’s front yard right in the middle of the day. I took it as a sign of a memorable few days to come!


The sanctuary itself is owned by Kathy Stevens, the founder, who we saw on more than one occasion around the farm putting in work and getting her hands dirty. I thought it was wonderful to witness her laboring away alongside the volunteers, showing just how much she cares about this safe haven for animals. If you’d like to read a brief summary of how the sanctuary came to be, you can do so here. If you enjoy reading, Kathy actually has two books published that I very much recommend titled ‘Where the Blind Horse Sings’ and ‘Animal Camp’. Both go further into depth about the sanctuary itself and Kathy’s personal experience. Upon arrival, we were greeting by Erica who mainly runs the homestead. I cannot say enough good things about her and her hospitality. She made our stay so much more pleasant and it felt like staying at a friend’s house. She also offered tons of suggestions on local eateries that offered vegan options and even hiking trails in the surrounding area. There are three guest rooms and a suite, which is where Chris booked us. The homestead itself is a gorgeous farmhouse with all the comforts and amenities you could imagine needing. There is a large communal kitchen and dining area where they provide a fully vegan breakfast for their guests (which was superb!). The suite was stunning, and while I didn’t take one single photo of it (because I forget what I did five minutes ago), there are high resolution photos available on their website. It was a perfect size, even if you were to come with a couple of friends (there is a large cot available for such an occasion), and is probably bigger than most apartments in Boston.


Perks of actually staying at the homestead are you get a personal tour included and passes that allow you to freely walk anywhere on the compound (within reason, of course). The tour was very informative, and our guide Heather did a wonderful job in keeping things lighthearted as well as educational. The farm is home to over 300 animals and is located on 148 acres of property. The enclosures for all of the animals are specious and well-kept, and every single animal we saw looked to be in impeccable health. So many of the animals that we saw were either bonded before they arrived, or created a bond after they were rescued that was really touching to see. Watching them interact with one another and to see their distinct personalities was almost emotional to see, as millions of others do not get that chance and never will. They truly are individuals that think, feel, emote, and thrive just as any other sentient creature on this earth. Even looking into their eyes, you get struck with a certain connection that makes you realize you really aren’t so different and removed from one another. Every living being wants to continue living.



Everyone who works at the sanctuary is vegan, however they do not emphasize that you need to be vegan to stay or visit. They are extremely inclusive of people from all walks of life. While they do educate guests during the tours on exactly where the animals all came from and how they are generally treated in the meat, egg, and dairy industry, they are by no means preachy or pushy. They provide factual information on their residents that you can either absorb and think about, or ignore. That is entirely up to you. Make no mistake, this is not a petting zoo. This is a genuine sanctuary and the animals are all treated with such respect that I could not help but be overwhelmed with hope by the time I left. If you are in the area, or even if you aren’t and you are up for a road trip, I can’t endorse this place enough. If traveling to see them in person isn’t an option, you can always keep up on the progress and events of the sanctuary on their Facebook and Instagram pages.  


6 comments:

  1. Wow how beautiful. Love those photos. Goats are my fav ever.

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    1. Thank you! I really felt a connection with the horses. Their eyes are so expressive.

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  2. You are QUITE the writer Mariesa! Beautiful article put together and amazing pictures taken! Glad you had a nice stay!

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    1. Thank you so much!! It really was a wonderful experience!

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  3. Looks like it was an amazing weekend! Love all the pictures!!!

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  4. How huge is the class size and whether you will get enough consideration, flea medicine for kittens

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