Animal sanctuary’s time up at Hadley stop

  • Patrick Veistroffer feeds the animals that are part of Cloa's Ark Animal Sanctuary in Hadley. —File Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 11/13/2019 11:43:54 PM

HADLEY — An animal sanctuary that has already relocated seven times in the past eight years could be on the move again as an arrangement for its cows, goats and sheep to stay in a 2-acre field in front of Pulse Cafe on Route 9 for the past 18 months nears its end.

With the one-year deal between Cloa​​​​​​’s Ark owners Patrick and Claudine Veistroffer and Pulse Cafe that began on June 1, 2018 already extended several months beyond its May 31 end date, the sanctuary, which has more than 150 animals, may depart by the end of November.

“It’s gotten to the point where, is it going to be a fiasco for us?” said Diana Smith, a public relations specialist for Pulse.

The concern comes as animals have escaped the field because of problems with the fence, overcrowding in parts of the field, and dangers posed by the enclosure, with some animals getting stuck for several hours. There has been both lack of on-site monitoring and lack of responsive communication, Smith said.

“It was not legally safe for us to continue the relationship,” Smith said, noting Pulse’s future could be in jeopardy. “Our property is not sustainably safe for animal care.”

Under the original deal, Pulse provided the water and electricity free of charge because its owners saw the sanctuary as fitting with the mission of the vegetarian restaurant. A donation jar was even placed in the restaurant to help the Veistroffers, and customers were encouraged to visit the animals.

Smith said the owners were given plenty of notice and offered assistance in moving, but have come up with excuses why leaving is not possible.

“If it’s really about the animals, then finding them proper homes is of the essence — that is our point and has always been,” Smith said.

Pulse Cafe put a notice on its website elaborating on its decision to remove the sanctuary.

“Pulse Cafe’s founding partners and co-founders are 100% believers in the ethical and health movement of a plant-based diet and have dedicated their life’s work on this front. That is why we agreed to the temporary solution of lending our land to Cloa’s Ark, and that is also why we cannot consciously enable their misuse of the opportunity and the cost to the animals it represents.”

Patrick Veistroffer said he appreciates the hospitality and isn’t as concerned as volunteers and other supporters since he has faced similar situations before. He is seeking assistance from an attorney to learn whether the end date is negotiable.

“As far as Cloa’s Ark Animal sanctuary future, we have some back-up plan so there is no worries to have,” Veistroffer said. “(It) does not mean it is easy and nice.”

Just in the past four years, the Veistroffers departed from Greenfield in 2016 following a lengthy eviction procedure from a rental property on Factory Hollow Road and took their 120 animals to Legate Hill in Charlemont.

But in Charlemont, the Board of Health ordered the Veistroffers to leave after they were found to be illegally living in a camper.

Cloa’s Ark operates on a $30,000 annual budget for the animals sheltered at any given time, including roosters, chickens, rabbits and cockatiels that live at a nearby property where the Veistroffers also make their home.

Veistroffer said he and his wife and supporters are meeting each Sunday at a Hadley coffee shop and should have more knowledge about when the animals may be on the move again.

“We actually are not sure of the date,” Veistroffer said.

Given more time, Veistroffer is confident that a permanent site may be found in South Hadley that the couple could own, rather than rent.

“We are looking to buy land,” Veistroffer said, noting that he is trying to line up a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The sanctuary needs four to five acres to provide enough space for growing crops, such as hay and alfalfa, and for the animals to graze, he added.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at

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