BOOKS: Animal Camp

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2010:

Animal Camp by Kathy Stevens
Skyhorse Publishing
(555 Eighth Ave., Suite 903, New York, NY 10018), 2010. 256
pages, hardcover. $24.95.

Every unwanted or cast off animal should be lucky enough to
end up at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in upstate New York, the
subject of Kathy Stevens’ Animal Camp. I have reviewed many books
for Animal People about rescued animals and sanctuaries, some better
presented than others. Animal Camp is a delight.


Few days at an animal shelter or sanctuary are routine and
that describes life at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Opened in
2003, the 80-acre Catskill Animal Sanctuary provides safety, food,
and comfort to about 250 animals at any given time.
People often presume that farm animals lack the personality
of companion animals. Stevens shows us differently. Described as a
sensitive swine, Franklin the pig was spared from slaughter.
Franklin enjoys the company of other pigs, plays, and has a
stubborn streak. He spends his days snoozing, enjoying fresh air,
and snacking on hickory pine nuts.
Also living at the Catskill Animal Sanctuary is a turkey
named Norman. A radio station several years ago advertised a “turkey
bowling” stunt in their parking lot. Frozen turkeys were to be used,
but someone showed up with Norman, very much alive.
Dino the horse survived a horrific fire in June 2000 after a
teenage miscreant allegedly tossed a lit match into Bergen Beach
Stables in Brooklyn. (The suspect was acquitted.) Twenty-three
horses perished, but Dino kicked down his stall in a fierce fight to
survive. According to Stevens, “Firefighters rushed in and dragged
his burning body to safety.” Dino lived at the sanctuary for six and
half years, dying in 2007. “Dino was a brave little man,” Stevens
says.
Staff and volunteers dote over the animals. None go hungry or
without proper shelter. But caring for so many animals requires
constant fundraising. The brutal upstate winter often slaps workers
around as they clean, feed and unload supplies from delivery trucks.
Subzero temperatures are common, as are blinding snowstorms that
dump snow by the feet, not inches.
Animal Camp is light breezy reading. Familiar stories are
told with refreshing and inspiring detail. Each animal shares a
unique story of abuse, escape from the broiler, or over-work at the
hands of thoughtless humans. Stevens is part of a remarkable journey
of healing, hope, and recovery that sadly too many animals never
get the chance to experience. –Debra J. White

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