Author:               Kathy Stevens

Book:                  Animal Camp: Reflections on a Decade of Love, Hope and Veganism at Catskill Animal Sanctuary

Published:          Paperback – May 1, 2013 (Second Edition)

Pages:                246 (paperback)

This book inspired me to visit Catskill Animal Sanctuary in the Hudson River Valley of New York state.

Kathy Stevens weaves story after story – all focused on love, heartbreak, optimism, and everlasting hope for a compassionate world.

The title refers to the summer Kathy realized three residents needed a bit of tender loving care. A new approach was in order – and hopefully, there would be new insights for Kathy to take back to Catskill Animal Sanctuary. The issue? Well, these three were harassed by their own barn mates.

Hope, Tucker, and Franklin (a horse, a cow and a pig) would travel offsite to another rural property to live with Kathy and her boyfriend. The great dog, Murphy, also joined “Animal Camp” for a summer adventure.

The beginning of Animal Camp proves to be interesting. And it gets better and better with each story.

Kathy sought to learn if three animals (of different species), who had been bullied by their own pasture mates, could find inner strength if given time and love.

Years of experience taught Kathy that this horse, cow, and pig could teach her a thing or two if they were given the opportunity to bond in a peaceful environment.

The summer stories are endearing. The animals find friendship with each other. Summer ends and they return to CAS, the story unfolds in unexpected ways. I won’t spoil it – you’ll want to read for yourself.

Kathy continues with more stories…

For example, a report came in that Norman, a female turkey caged during a live radio stunt on Thanksgiving Day, was in jeopardy. Kathy and her sanctuary manager drove to investigate. The radio station promoted frozen turkeys as bowling balls in the parking lot. Norman the turkey was as afraid as your companion animal would be if caged by strangers on a winter day. Through a series of interactions, Kathy secured Norman’s (now Norma Jean) release to live out a happy life at the sanctuary.

There are stories of Noah the horse who was too weak to walk off the horse trailer to his new home. He recovered, but Kathy relates their philosophy on care and recovery.

Kathy’s mantra for animal care: “If they need love, we let them guide you in how you offer it; many aren’t ready for a full-blown love fest.”

There are no cookie-cutter solutions. Each day brings ever-changing scenarios to be addressed. It’s relentless work, but the folks at Catskill Animal Sanctuary do it gracefully. It’s hard work and heavy lifting in summer thunderstorms, snow, winter blizzards and everything in between. #Respect.

Of course, there are surprises from the antics of the animals. Such as Babe the cow who found a way to escape the sanctuary. He took his cow friends with him – until the local police pulled up to Kathy’s driveway to ask if she was missing anyone.  Apparently, Babe and friends meandered down the country lane and just stood there in the road. All ended well, but my guess is the CAS fence-mending team rushed in to find Babe’s escape route.

One story that gets me every time: Lumpy the older sheep who deeply grieves over the loss of his friend, Rambo the Great Sheep. Kathy recounts what she did for the inconsolable Lumpy the night of Rambo’s passing. It’s as heartwarming a story you will ever read. I promise.

With thousands of rescued animals over the years, one thing is certain: Catskill Animal Sanctuary provides each animal everything needed to recover and thrive: safety, freedom, food, shelter, medicine, and love, love, love.

If you are an animal lover, reading this book will bring you to the next level. Most of us call ourselves “animal lovers,” yet we have so much to learn.

This book pulls back the curtain of deception so vehemently protected by big food industries, politicians, and conglomerate animal agriculture who profit on animal flesh, secretions and skins.

We MUST be brave enough to read the truths that Kathy reveals in her book.

Ignoring the brutal plight of our beautiful animal kingdom goes against our natural compassion. Our hearts know the right thing to do – if only we would listen.

As Kathy writes in her dedication at the front of her book:

“I believe that in all of us is a good and pure knowing that beneath the surface of things, beneath gender and skin color, religion and nationality, social class and sexual preference, and yes, beneath species…we are all the same. This book is dedicated with love and hope, to that good and pure knowing in you.”



Thank you, Kathy, for your dedication to creating a more compassionate world.