The Cow Sanctuary in Shiloh, NJ is a 77-acre farm for rescued cows, as well as, according to the website, home to “three quirky horses, four rambunctious emus, three noisy geese, and two sassy goats.” And a partridge in a pear tree?
Founded by Helga Tacreiter in 1988, The Cow Sanctuary provides lifelong refuge to animals who are victims of animal agriculture. This is heroic work. But the thing that struck me particularly when I heard about this wonderful place is the extremely creative way they fundraise. They sell cowches! And by cowches, I don’t mean the run-of-the-mill Ikea or Jennifer Convertibles kind. The cowches that The Cow Sanctuary offer are “lush and furry life-size soft sculpture floor pillows.” They are made in likeness to a real cow resident of The Cow Sanctuary, and can be made in several sizes, including newborn, yearling, or adult. A purchase of a cowch will run you between $300-$800. (Note: According to the website, they’re not tax-deductible.)
I already told Mariann that if we ever move out of our tiny apartment and into a real house, a cowch will be our first purchase. I just love them. Helga also makes plush rat dolls and sells them for $10 each. What a fun and funky way to support this heroic endeavor. And hats off to Helga for not only devoting her life to saving animals and raising awareness about their plight, but also for pursuing this innovative way of fundraising. Something tells me, too, that if your friends were visiting and they saw a cowch in the middle of your living room, a thought-provoking conversation would almost certainly ensue.
And there are so many stories you could tell, once that conversation got started. For example, one of the thirteen cows lucky enough to call The Cow Sanctuary their home is Bianca, who was born on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania. But Bianca couldn’t get pregnant — and therefore could not produce milk — so the disgruntled farmer agreed to sell her to to a young mother who lived near the farm. This young mother’s children, who had passed by Bianca on their daily walks, fell in love with her, and thanks to Mom’s persistence — mixed with Bianca’s lack of, as the farmer saw it, economic value — Bianca has now been at The Cow Sanctuary for over ten years.
That is just one of the happy stories that has come from this magical place. Of course, sanctuaries are in and of themselves at the heart of our movement. They not only provide rehabilitation and refuge for, in the grand scheme, a select few — giving those ambassador animals a second chance — but they also are at the cornerstone of advocacy. When people learn the stories of animals, and are exposed to their sentience — their brave, social and funny ways — and their inherent appreciation of their lives, it’s harder to turn away. Sanctuaries also provide a haven for us animal activists, allowing us to press “reboot,” and to remind ourselves why we fight so hard for animal rights.