Woodstock Farm Sanctuary makes animals feel truly safe

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Molly and Charlie at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary
Molly and Charlie are enjoying life at the sanctuary

HIGH FALLS – While many animal shelters and sanctuaries emphasize giving animals a home, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s mission is a little different. Founded by Jenny Brown and Doug Abel in 2004, their mission is to rescue farm animals by giving them care and sanctuary, connecting them with people to advance veganism, and advocate for animal rights in alliance with other social justice movements.

Located on over 150 acres in High Falls, where it moved from its original location in Woodstock in 2015, the sanctuary currently providing a home to 370 animals.

All the animals they protect are farm animals that are commonly exploited, abused, and killed in the agriculture industry.

Animals rarely get adopted from the sanctuary because of all the requirements needed to take care of creatures like pigs and cows. Instead, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary focuses more on giving the animals a lifelong home, and not so much facilitating them until they find a home. If any of the staff find dogs, cats, or other non-farm animals in need of rescue, they contact the Ulster County SPCA.

Among the animals most recently rescued are two adorable piglets named Harvey and Marsha, who are both two months old. “They’re the smartest animals, outside of elephants, dolphins, and primates,” Executive Director Rachel McCrystal said. “The average pig is way smarter than the average dog; definitely smarter than my dog for sure.”

They even put sunscreen on the pigs and place a tarp over their pens to prevent them from developing skin cancer. Since pigs can sleep up to 20 hours a day, the tarp and sunscreen are a necessity.

In a way, the sanctuary has also been what one may call a place of miracles. They currently have a Jersey-breed cow named Marybelle that had a blood infection seven years ago. “The doctor said she had a 10 percent chance of making it,” Shelter Director Hervé Breuil said. “Now look at where she is. Marybelle has been a symbol of resilience for me.”

Despite her exceeding the expectations of doctors, Marybelle could die any day because of sensitive bone tissue she has that could easily cause bones to crack.

The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary is open to the public every Saturday and Sunday, April through October, offering tours between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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