The farm animals lucky enough to escape New York City’s live slaughter markets will get their own hospital on Monday, part of an upstate shelter that allows them to live out their days frolicking in green fields.
Animal rights group Farm Sanctuary runs the 175-acre shelter in Watkins Glen, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes region, along with two shelters in California.
Over the past decade, the group has rescued more than 400 animals from the five boroughs, including Elliott, a pus- and lice-covered goat with pneumonia that was found wandering aimlessly through Brooklyn this January.
The group has also taken in thousands of factory-farmed livestock from elsewhere in the country. Often, they are abandoned after natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
Farm Sanctuary finds abandoned animals when they investigate near stockyards or at auctions. The group has even received calls from good samaritans and animal control officers about unwanted chickens bulldozed into dumpsters.
“They’re treated like commodities,” Susie Coston, the group’s national shelter director, said while being nibbled in the hair by a sheep.
“They all have different personalities,” she added of the roughly 500 animals at the Watkins Glen shelter. “It’s no different from the dogs and cats that we consider part of our families.”
Previously, any animal like Elliott that required emergency medical attention was rushed from Watkins Glen to Cornell University Hospital for Animals, about 45 minutes away.
Starting today, however, chickens, ducks, rabbits and other small animals will be treated on site at the hospital – the first-ever built for “victims of industrial food production.”
“They have better health care than me,” Coston said, laughing.
Though about 80 live animal slaughter markets dot New York City, a
city-wide moratorium on new markets near residential dwellings has been
in place since 2008. A bill to extend the moratorium was signed last
month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Guided tours of the Watkins Glen shelter are held from May to October.