Vermont animal sanctuary damaged in weekend storm

Published: Dec. 25, 2022 at 10:44 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 25, 2022 at 11:34 PM EST
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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - When a treacherous winter storm blew through their Middlebury farm, Erika and Mark Gutel hoped it wasn’t reality.

“I had this horrible dream that the storm came through and took everything. It was a dream right, I woke up and I looked at Erika’s face and she was just blank. I’m like, it wasn’t a dream,” Mark Gutel said.

The Gutels own and operate Kinder Way Farm Sanctuary where they rescue animals from unfortunate situations, adopt and take care of them. In some cases, they re-home them. The last time we touched base with them they were being featured on national television. Now they say they’re in trouble because the storm destroyed many of their structures.

“We lost some fencing. We lost all the pig structures. We lost the goat structures. We lost the yurt. The horse structure, it ended up in another field,” said Mark Gutel, “The night was so scary. As anyone that was in the storm, they know this feeling. The trees were cracking and waving.”

When the storm hit, the Gutels say the winds felt overwhelming. The family has not had power for four days now. But they’re still working on recovery. Although it’s been difficult, they say there’s at least one silver lining that made their Christmas a lot better.

“Every animal survived and so did we. To be ungrateful would be wrong. So we are grateful. I’m grateful to all our followers. Sometimes I have no idea that people even know who we are,” Mark Gutel said.

Next-door neighbor Jenna Laslocky’s family is the property owner of the land. She says she’s willing to help the family out in any way she can, and doing so is personal for her, as well.

“It’s very much in my father’s sort of way of being. We already had a number of sheep that he had taken in. It was a way of sort of fulfilling his dream for the farm,” said Laslocky.

As for the next steps, the Gutels say they plan to rebuild and keep going.

“We just got to go with it. That’s the key to all of this. Yeah, it was a disaster, yeah we lost this, that. Who knows what’s going to happen next,” said Mark Gutel.

If you want to get involved and help the sanctuary rebuild, click here to find out how.

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