The Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary gets weekly calls from people looking for new homes for their roosters, goats and other animals. Founded in 2004 with just a few chickens and a rooster, today the 23-acre refuge in Woodstock, N.Y., is home to more than 200 animals. While most of them are the result of investigations into farms and slaughterhouses, “a surprising number” are rescued “from the streets of New York City,” according to the sanctuary’s website.
“We get calls all the time from people who don’t want their animals or can’t afford them. We get emails about roosters found in the city or goats being neglected or pigs that are going to be killed if we don’t take them,” says Elana Kirshenbaum, programs coordinator at Woodstock.
As the local food movement takes hold and urban homesteading gains popularity, more people are giving backyard farming a try. The prospect of fresh eggs and milk inspires them to bring home adorable chicks and goats — but when chicks grow into roosters or goats begin eating the landscaping, these animals are often given to animal sanctuaries or simply abandoned.
“People have a romantic view of farming, but it takes a lot of time, energy and money to care for animals. Here, we take our chickens to the vet, and when they’re sick, we give them antibiotics. People need to ask themselves if they’re ready to take on that kind of responsibility for the life of the animal,” says Kirshenbaum.