'It's unimaginable.' Farm sanctuary in danger of losing home, needs $500,000
For 20 years Animal Nation's Farm Sanctuary has been a refuge for hundreds of abused, neglected and surrendered farm animals, but now there's the very real possibility that could end.
The nonprofit animal welfare organization has been able to operate on private property just over the border in South Salem, New York, but the owners now need to sell. Over the past four months, Animal Nation managed to raise more than half the money needed to buy the land, but they're still $500,000 short with a deadline of March 10 to get the rest.
"The good news is we had a donor step up, saw that we needed $500,000 still and is willing to match a $250,000 gift, which has made this much more doable," said Animal Nation President Patrick Moore. "It's extremely stressful to think what the alternative is, and honestly, we can't even go there in our heads."
The sanctuary currently has one llama, two alpaca, two emus, two horses, two sheep, three guineafowl, four turkeys, seven peafowl, eight pigs, 12 goats, 50 chickens, about 75 pigeons and 80-90 ducks.
"You look around, and we're just like, 'What are we going to do with all these animals?' Every other facility is so overfull and packed and uprooting animals who've called this home for 17, 18 years—it's unimaginable," Moore told News 12.
Some of the animals may live their entire lives there, usually those who need constant care due to medical issues or age. Other animals are adopted out or brought to sanctuaries in upstate New York or Vermont to free up space.
"Just so we can keep the doors open and be available to help the next," Moore said.
And there is always a "next." When News 12 arrived Thursday morning, Animal Nation had already taken three distress calls. Moore estimated there are 8,000 each year.
"Every one has a different back story," Moore said. "We have is a goat that escaped a slaughter truck in Staten Island. She was running around as a stray for almost two months. We brought her to the sanctuary, and it turned out she was pregnant. Within days she gave birth to her little baby, and both live here together now."
Several animals have ties to Connecticut, including two recent cases out of Fairfield County. Last year police removed 65 goats from a property in Redding. Five now live at the sanctuary, along with ducks and turkeys from a recent hoarding case out of Fairfield. A pot-bellied pig who led Stamford police on a 45-minute chase also calls this place home.
Moore said the rescue scenarios are endless and the need is growing, so the loss of the sanctuary would be devastating to the region. This is the only animal sanctuary near New York City. He estimated half the animals there are from New York and half from Connecticut.
"We can't keep up with the calls to begin with, and if we weren't able to accept any more calls, it would be a sad day," Moore told News 12.
Donations pay for food, bedding, and medical care while 127 active volunteers help keep the farm sanctuary running. Moore himself started as one of them back in 2004 at the age of 14.
"The organization is there to help animals, but it's become bigger than that. We're helping each other. We have so many different volunteers from so many different backgrounds," Moore explained. "You have a 16-year-old working with a 63-year-old, and it's a beautiful thing to see--people really come together for one common purpose, and as much as we're sitting here and taking care of the animals and healing them, they're helping to heal us too."
Moore told News 12 he's remaining optimistic Animal Nation will "get to the finish line" and be able to stay put. If you're interested in helping the nonprofit purchase the property, you can donate here.