Animal sanctuary founder details ‘vicious attack’ on dog as police investigate shooting
Several animal sanctuaries in the greater Capital District came together to offer a reward after a dog was shot near an animal sanctuary in Greene County.
State Police and the Department of Environmental Conservation announced Thursday they were investigating the incident that happened on Jan. 1 near Potic Mountain Road in Athens. State Police asked anyone with information to come forward.
Two-year-old German Shepard-Great Pyrenees mix, Kolija, was back home after surgery for a gunshot wound to his hind leg and a broken pelvis and femur.
The shot shattered the peace at And-Hof Animal Sanctuary for Farm Animals and Permaculture. Founder and President Kurt Andernach has rescued around 300 animals at the 50-acre farm near Catskill. And-Hof stands for Andernach farm– ‘hof,’ the German word for farm. It’s named for the farm his family once owned in Germany.
“This is not just a sanctuary for animals here, this is also my sanctuary, you know? And this was a vicious attack on all of us,” Andernach said.
It appeared the shooter was trespassing and shot Kolija at close range from behind as he was roaming the woods near the home. A GoFundMe page had raised more than $5,000 for Kolija’s recovery Friday afternoon.
“This was not just a stray bullet, this was an intentional shot,” Andernach said.
Asked if he initially knew Kolija had been wounded by a gunshot, he said, “No, it never even occurred to me, and then on my way back to the farm, the doctor called, and she said, ‘It’s a gunshot.’ And I almost lost control over the truck. I said, this cannot be. This cannot, not, not be.”
Authorities found a blood trail leading them from where he was shot back to the house. A veterinarian who treated the dog told Andernach that Kolija would not have survived if he hadn’t mustered the strength to travel the length of around six football fields to get back to the house.
From pigs to peacocks, And-Hof is a safe haven in the woods designed for animals to live peacefully after abuse and neglect. Andernach grew up around animals at his family’s farm in Germany.
“Since earliest childhood they have always been my most loyal and faithful companions and the love was always there,” he said.
In Andernach’s almost 30 years living on the property, he said he has never had an issue and has a good relationship with his neighbors.
Kolija faces six to eight months of recovery. Andernach has spent $14,000 saving him, but said he did not feel he had a choice.
“The fact that he made it here all the way, it’s just kind of, I want to live, you know? I want to live. I respect that, of course I respect that. I have to respect that, you know?” he said.
Several other animal sanctuaries in the greater Capital District are putting together a $5,000 reward for the arrest of the person responsible, including Hyer Ground Rescue in Catskill, Animal Nation in South Salem and Hudson Valley Animal Rescue & Sanctuary in Poughkeepsie.
State Police Catskill Bureau of Criminal Investigation are asking anyone with information to call State Police at 518-622-8600 and reference RMS #2400001365.