See the Magic That Happens When a Disabled Woman Helps Disabled Animals
Sep 3, 2015
As a 10-year-old girl, Jenny Brown was diagnosed with bone cancer. And after four months of intensive chemotherapy that left her exhausted and in tears, her doctors delivered nearly unbearable news: They'd have to amputate her right leg. She survived the ordeal, she says now, because of the the companionship of her beloved cat, Boogie. And she paid forward her love of and compassion for animals by opening Woodstock Farm Sanctuary more than 10 years ago.
On Sept. 5, the farm reopens at a new location in High Falls, New York, growing from 23 to 150 acres and tripling the number of animals it can aid. The sanctuary will also serve as an education center hosting animal compassion-themed retreats, overnight lodging, gardens to teach sustainable living, and serve as the host for local farmers' markets, cooking classes, and film screenings. For its grand reopening celebration from 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. Saturday, according to a news release, visitors can take sanctuary tours, sample from food trucks, and enjoy live music and children's activities free of cost.
In a video released to promote the sanctuary's new location, Brown recounts Boogie's comfort as she underwent chemotherapy and recovered from surgery. "She would craw on my lap and lick my tears," she says. "I wonder sometimes if I would have made it through my period of cancer without having her by my side. She was the catalyst for a different way of thinking. She changed the way I viewed animals, and made me realized they have thoughts, feelings, and emotions, that they're self-aware, and that they're not here to do with as we please."
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary began with just six chickens, Brown says, and grew over the years to include goats, pigs, cows, sheep, rabbits, ducks, and many more animals. Brown and staff rescue the animals from farms, stockyards, auctions, and slaughterhouses, as well as take in animals identified in humane societies and SPCA cruelty cases. Many are disabled or undesirable, but "at the sanctuary, they are someone and not something, and they have names and not numbers," Brown says "They're tangible—you can touch them, you can look them in the eye, you can hear their story."
Diseased or disabled animals undergo surgery or are fitted with prosthetics. "Normally, these animals would be put down," Brown says. "But I would want someone to help me if I had an ailment, if I had a disease, if I had a handicap—to at least give me a fighting chance. And that's what we do with these animals."
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Photo credit: Don Farrall via Getty Images