posted by Jake Richardson
Oct 2, 2010

Cow sanctuary
Sankar Sastri rests with Nandi, one of his rescued cows at Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

The Lakshmi Cow sanctuary in Pennsylvania, is a 42 acre farm used for protecting cows from slaughter and abuse. Sankar Sastri created the sanctuary to save some animals from their impending slaughter.

There are 11 cows that call this place home. Though that number may dishearteningly sound small compared to the massive animal-slaughtering industry (their website says 90,000 cows are slaughtered in the US each day), the sanctuary is showing a powerful effect on those who visit.

After visiting the cow sanctuary and talking with the owner, journalist Douglas B. Brill stopped eating meat. Brill wrote in a recent article, “When I went in 2008 to meet Sankar Sastri and his cows named something other than Bacon & Cheese Angus Snack Wrap, that little barrier that always forced my brain to separate food from animals just crumbled. These cows had names, feelings and behavioral traits that distinguished one from another. They had enough brains to come when called. They didn’t come with a side of fries. They were a lot like me.”

He went to the farm two years ago as part of Animal Sanctuary’s annual Farm Walk, an event which raises funds for abused animals, and awareness about how livestock are treated. If you are interested in finding a walk, they are usually held in the fall.

Animal Sanctuary was started by a married couple in 1986. They weren’t intending to start an animal protection organization, but were merely investigating the treatment of farm animals for their own awareness, when a very peculiar thing happened. When the couple was at Lancaster Stockyards, they encountered the “dead pile” where dead or dying animals are placed away from the main areas. They started photographing the dead animals, but one of them started moving. It was a sheep, that was barely alive. They rushed it to a veterinarian, who saved it. The sheep recovered, and the couple took it home and took care of it for years. There were so many animals left to die by themselves, they started Animal Sanctuary to take care of them.

Mr. Sastri’s sanctuary is an outgrowth of their work, but he has his own spin on it, as a Hindu vegetarian. On the sanctuary’s website, it says, “The mere sight of a cow is considered a good deed.”

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