Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York is dedicated to taking in and caring for “broken beings.” They make sure all creatures — cows, pigs, goats, sheep, and other animals that most people consider food — receive love and care.
“Rescuing a terrified cow who has been brutalized, or horse, is no different from rescuing a terrified dog who’s been brutalized, or abandoned,” Catskill founder Kathy Stevens tells PEOPLE.
The animal sanctuary provides warm beds, shelter, and nourishment for species who have “never known a moment of joy.” Catskill also offers virtual and in-person tours to animals lovers. They also offer programs to help humans adopt a vegan diet.
In 2001, Kathy took in a blind horse named Buddy to save him from being put down.
“People either don’t have the skill or patience to help their animals once those animals lose their sight, or they believe that the animal cannot have a good quality of life,” Kathy said.
Buddy became a huge personality who loves spending time outside. One day, it became obvious to Kathy that the 20-yer-old blind horse wants to run.
“Blind horses can’t gallop. They can’t do what their hearts yearn to do because they don’t know what they’re going to run into,” Kathy shared.
So Buddy can run safely, Kathy trained him to move comfortably through space by teaching him different verbal cues. After Buddy had a better understanding of his surroundings, Kathy started taking him to a 50-acre field and steering him safely.
“He started to trot, and then he started to cantor, and then he started to gallop, and he galloped as fast as he could. And I just let him run until he wanted to stop. And he stopped, and he let out the most beautiful neigh that I’ve ever heard in my life,” Kathy recalled. “I was weeping.”
After that, Kathy has rescued seven more blind horses, three of whom have been named Buddy, and has helped all of them rediscover the things they love most in life.
Sadly, Buddy One and Buddy Two have passed. Buddy Three and Buddy Four are starting to be best friends.
“Every animal is remarkably individual. While most of us only understand this about dogs and cats, it’s the same regardless of species,” Stevens says. “Every pig, every chicken, every blind horse, every cow, no matter their age, wants their lives as we want ours, and much like our companion animals, they require extra support to grow old with joy and dignity.”