Kathy Stevens—founder and director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, which sprawls over 148 acres in New York’s Hudson Valley, providing refuge to about 300 farmed animals rescued from cruelty, neglect, and abandonment—recalls a childhood growing up on a horse farm in Virginia, forging an intense connection with animals early on. The passion for animals, she explains, has been a vital through line of her life, and along the way, she also developed a powerful interest in education—going to grad school, teaching high school English, and so on. Stevens recounts being at a career cross roads, realizing the professional opportunity offered wouldn’t be a good fit for her, and deciding instead to combine her two chief interests (animals, education), and head down the path of creating Catskill Animal Sanctuary, which she did in 2001 at a small property in Kerhonkson, NY. In the ensuing years, Catskill has expanded to its present size and grown into what Stevens calls “the pre-eminent educational animal sanctuary.” The focus, she notes, is to encourage sanctuary visitors to directly participate in what she describes as a major social movement for humans to change behavior toward other species, adding that there are 300 critters on hand to help underscore that effort—observing that when visitors are “licked by a cow or when a turkey falls asleep in their lap,” the message tends to resonate in a more powerful way. Stevens describes the tours they offer, ranging from those for adults to those tailored for school kids. She makes it clear Catskill receives requests daily to take more animals, and addresses the criteria for saying Yes or No to such requests, by way of mentioning why they declined the previous day to accept three pigs needing a home, partly because that might compromise the life of the 22 pigs currently living there. While on this topic, she outlines the colorful story and unusual daily routine of one of those 22–a potbellied pig named Sister Mary Frances. (https://casanctuary.org)
ALSO: I spoke briefly with Jennifer Lockwood, a St. Petersburg-based pilot (she previously lived in St. Croix), who has coordinated–and in many cases, executed—the rescue of hundreds of cats and dogs that were abandoned in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, in the wake of the hurricanes. Many of these animals have been adopted stateside, including in and around the Tampa Bay area. (http://usvirelief.org, https://www.facebook.com/compassionkindfoundation/)
COMEDY CORNER: Nate Bargetze’s “How To Get Bitten By A Snake” (http://www.natebargatze.com)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play Name That Animal Tune today.
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