Sanctuaire pour animaux de ferme de l’Estrie provides safe haven for farm animals across the Eastern Townships

Leon, SAFE’s youngest pig, giving a friendly look to the camera.
Since 2015, SAFE has provided farm animals across the Eastern Townships with a safe haven. Now, they are looking for community support. Photo by Teresa Gangnier.
Taylor McClure - CIDI - KnowltonQC | 11-08-2022
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Sanctuaire pour animaux de ferme de l’Estrie (SAFE) has played an important role in providing farm animals whom either need a new home because they can no longer be cared for, that have been abandoned, and/or abused, a second chance at a joyous life. 

Located in Mansonville, SAFE is one of the only registered sanctuaries of its kind in the province. The non-profit organization depends completely on community donations and volunteers to ensure its success. After a tough couple of years, SAFE is looking for community support  now more than ever. 

“SAFE is a sanctuary for farm animals, farm animals that come from many different sources, but they all have something in common: had they not ended up at SAFE they would probably not be alive today,” explained Catherine Gagnieux, founder of SAFE. “So, this is one of the missions of SAFE is to give these animals a safe haven for the rest of their lives.”

Throughout her life Gagnieux always wanted to work with animals, specifically big cats in Africa, but ended up running a daycare for over 30 years. 

“Eventually, in 2015, the idea of a farm sanctuary came about for many different reasons,” said Gagnieux. 

Originally, Gagnieux had the idea to provide the animals a safe space until they could be adopted, but things changed as SAFE evolved. 

“They’re not like dogs and cats. They require more space, a specific space, and the other thing is that we attached to them very much,” mentioned Gagnieux. “We haven’t adopted out any animal yet. It’s hard to find the right kind of environment for them, it’s very specific.”

Gagneiux estimated that she has helped around 120 animals, including horses, cows, chickens, pigs, find refuge since opening SAFE. 

“Quite a few of them escaped the trucks that they were in on the way to the slaughter house. People called us and asked us ‘this animal is abandoned or can you take them in because we can no longer look after them, can you help?’ It is these types of situations,” said Gagnieux. 

As one of the only sanctuaries of its kind in the province, SAFE fulfills a great need. 

“We are a registered charity. There are other refugees, there are sanctuaries, in the province, but we are the only registered one at this time,” noted Gagnieux. 

Depending on community donations and volunteers to function, Gagnieux explained that things have become difficult over the last couple of years with the pandemic. 

“We are actually going through a very difficult time right now, the pandemic changed a lot of things. We were supposed to work on having partnerships with stores, restaurants, but then then the pandemic happened and it made it difficult for everybody else,” she said. “(…) It’s affecting everybody and that means we are losing a lot of monthly donors.” 

Combined with unexpected expenses, Gagnieux is seeking other ways to ensure that SAFE is financially secure. 

“We have to find means of refilling our drawers because they are really at the bottom,” she said. 

In the upcoming weeks, SAFE will be holding a contest to try and reach 1000 donors with prizes to be won. They will also hold an auction in October and they are organizing guided visits at SAFE up until October. 

“I invite people to come and visit and I invite people to come learn more about who we are and what we do,” said Gagnieux. “Become a part of this community, any help makes you a part of our big family.”

For more information SAFE and to get involved. 

Listen to the full interview below: