How it Started
In the fall of 2016, Catherine bought a property in Mansonville to make her dream of opening an animal sanctuary finally come true. Her initial plan was not necessarily to create a haven for farm animals, but then through a succession of very personal events, Catherine was awakened to everything that was happening to gentle individuals and this led her to rethink the project that would eventually become SAFE.
Catherine attended a conference at one of the first farm animal sanctuaries in the US: Farm Sanctuary in New York State. She was also inspired by reading "My Gentle Barn", a book about creating a sanctuary “where animals heal and children learn to hope”. Motivated and encouraged by what she learned, Catherine decided to take the plunge despite her lack of experience with farm animals. Loving these animals, learning to care for them and being willing to learn from her mistakes were her most valuable assets in getting started. Time and 3 little pigs (not little at all really...) would do the rest!
Indeed, in May 2017, three pigs escaped from the truck that was taking them to the slaughterhouse and criss-crossed the countryside on the run for about a month. With Catherine's plans to open a farm sanctuary now well in the works, there was no way that she would allow these tenacious and brave little pigs to be sent to the slaughterhouse to become someone’s dinner.
A refuge in Ontario caught them, but was not able to provide a permanent home for them at that time. Pigs raised in the animal agriculture industry are bred to be enormous, require adequate space and are not necessarily easy to manage. Providing a long-term home for them is a big responsibility, but by that time, Catherine had already discussed her dream of opening a sanctuary with friends at Humane Society International (HSI), with whom she had volunteered. They asked her if she could take the pigs. Catherine recalls, “It was like jumping off a big diving board. Someone had to push me, and those three not-so-little pigs were my big motivation.” They arrived at the sanctuary in May of 2017.
Two months later, Catherine was contacted by a friend of SAFE whose neighbor owned a dairy farm. One of their cows was having great difficulty giving birth. SAFE's friend, who had helped with the birth for several days, fell in love with the little calf. When he found out that this newborn calf was going to be auctioned off to become meat, he decided to intervene. The next day, he told Catherine what he had done and asked her if she could take in this calf who he had named Calvin.
"I couldn't refuse," Catherine recalls. And that is how the SAFE story began to be written, one rescue after another.
As we approach the end of 2020, 50 non-human individuals now share the love and care of Catherine and our many volunteers, in this oasis of compassion that SAFE has become.
- To rescue, rehabilitate and give shelter as well as food and love to the animals under our care.
- To educate the public about the violence and abuse that farm animals endure from birth to death.
- To create a link between humans and farm animals so that they are seen as what they truly are: sentient beings worthy of our respect, time and attention.
- Help consumers recognize the direct impact that their choices (food - clothing - cosmetics - entertainment - etc.) have on the well-being of farm animals and on all the living beings on our planet.