Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary gives cats and dogs a chance at life

by Dave Carew

It’s a shocking statistic: According to a recent NewsChannel 5 report, 60 dogs and cats are euthanized each day in Davidson County because homes cannot be found for these innocent animals. But luckily, at least one private local organization is battling this terrible tragedy.

Launched more than a decade ago, Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary is, in the words of its new president Gayle Zei, “neither a true sanctuary nor a farm.” What it is is an organization of foster homes for animals. When you work with Freedom Farm, you commit to bringing an abandoned, stray animal into your “foster home” until Freedom Farm can find a “forever home” for the animal.

Underground Nashville requested an interview with Gayle Zei to learn more. Here is what Gayle told us:

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: You recently became the new president of Freedom Farm. Why is this work so important to you?

GAYLE ZEI:  The work you do for a paycheck feeds your body, [but] at this time in my life, I need something that feeds my soul.  I have been rescuing animals since I was seven or eight; it’s in my blood.  I am blessed to have a husband of 27 years who is as dedicated to loving animals as I am.  The need is so great.  With the economy in trouble, often it is the animals that suffer first.  You can’t go behind any strip mall or fast food place at night and not see dozens of abandoned cats. Freedom Farm has helped me focus my efforts.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE:  When a person agrees to provide foster care to a dog or cat through Freedom Farm, how long does the person commit to?

GZ: That is a tricky thing to answer.  It depends on so many factors: the health and age of the animal; the time of year; the economy (people don’t add to their families and often have to give up their critters when money gets tight); and, in the case of the dog fosters, how aggressively the foster “shows” the dog in their care. The more they’re seen, the better the odds of getting adopted.  Cats get rotated in three-week cycles at the Petsmart in Rivergate, until they get adopted.  It truly can be a few days or months.

UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: What are Freedom Farm’s primary needs right now? How can people in greater Nashville best support you and your work?

GZ: SPAY and NEUTER your pets!  Talk to your friends and neighbors about doing the same.  Animals do NOT “need” to have “just” one litter.  If your children need to see the “fun of having kittens/puppies,” take them to any shelter and enjoy those that are already here. Freedom Farm is lucky to be partners with Petsmart Charities, and many of our normal operating costs are covered.  We really need PEOPLE to DO things, like various computer work . . . finding valuable items to sell at future events . . . delegating/organizing other people . . . joining our board . . . FOSTERING . . . and money always helps.

For more information and/or to support Freedom Farm, please visit

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at and Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising / marketing / public relations writer.

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit and/or “like” the page on Facebook:

Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.


Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew




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