The fundamental basis of animal advocacy is to alter the view that animals are not mere objects, instead, they are “someone” and not “something” and to recognize them as individuals with as much right to live on this planet as humans have. Sadly, for many farmed animals, including horses, this is far from reality. Their lives are measured in profitability – reduced to mere dollar signs. If and when they no longer serve a tangible purpose, they are simply discarded. Their basic needs and freedoms are constantly denied as they are forced to live in tiny stalls for the majority of their lives and never get to socialize or form family groups. Millions upon millions of animals are born into the monstrous world of factory farming every day. The majority will leave this earth in the most violent and horrific way, never knowing an inch of kindness or compassion.
Thankfully, society is beginning to gain an understanding of their plight and is slowly acknowledging the overwhelming cruelty associated with the food on their plates. This is largely due to the ever-growing number of farm sanctuaries appearing all over the world. These organizations play a crucial role in getting us to see animals differently, but they face many challenges in their work. Perhaps with the help of individuals and other like-minded organizations, farm sanctuaries could more effectively carry out their work. Let’s look into how this can be achieved to foster a world that is more beneficial to all living beings.
Issues In the World of Rescue
Running a farm sanctuary is no easy task by any means and requires a lot of dedication. There are no holidays, no vacations, or days off. Would I change it? Not for a minute. This is my life and I chose to devote my time to helping animals in need. Since I opened Penny Lane Farm Sanctuary nearly five years ago, I have learned a lot. Learned what to do and what not to do. Am I still learning? Of course! Lately, there has been an influx of requests to take in unwanted animals, the most recent being an elderly horse that could no longer be of use to his owners. Instead of providing a deserving retirement, they decided to get rid of him. There seems to be a common factor in all these requests – the threat of euthanasia or slaughter should I decline. Unfortunately, my sanctuary is at capacity. Funds, as well as space, are limited and I cannot put the animals in my care at risk by overcrowding. It is heartbreaking to have to say no at times. This is the hard part of sanctuary life.
Lately, there has been an influx of requests to take in unwanted animals, the most recent being an elderly horse that could no longer be of use to his owners. Instead of providing a deserving retirement, they decided to get rid of him. There seems to be a common factor in all these requests – the threat of euthanasia or slaughter should I decline. Unfortunately, my sanctuary is at capacity. Funds, as well as space, are limited and I cannot put the animals in my care at risk by overcrowding. It is heartbreaking to have to say no at times. This is the hard part of sanctuary life.
Many sanctuaries around the world continually inspire me and give me the motivation to make a difference in the lives of farmed animals. Sadly, even this world is not without its issues. As in many aspects of life, conflict creeps in. Not all involved in animal advocacy see eye-to-eye or are willing to share their knowledge. One of the more complicated issues is whether or not it is appropriate to “purchase” an animal in order to save their life.
Recently, six steers bravely broke free from a slaughterhouse in St. Louis. They ran for their lives through the streets, determined to be free. They were eventually captured and returned to the slaughterhouse. Several sanctuaries fought to save their lives however their freedom came with a hefty price tag. Their bail money was raised and their lives spared. They will now live out the rest of their lives in peace at a sanctuary – experiencing only love and understanding. This is what they fought for. Was it appropriate to pay for their freedom? There are two sides of the coin.
Giving money to those involved in the factory farming industry only serves to keep the cycle going. The money gained is used to breed another animal in the place of the “rescued” one. Kill buyers are a prime example. Their job is to purchase horses at livestock auctions for a minimal fee then turn around and sell said animal at a marked-up price to make a profit. The money made can then be used to purchase three more horses to ship directly to the slaughter plant. There is no denying this is wrong.
Millions of cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys spend their lives in miserable conditions only to be violently slaughtered without an ounce of compassion. For instance, one slaughter plant in Toronto, Canada slaughters 10, 000 juvenile pigs every single day. Numbers like that are beyond astounding and incomprehensible. As the Greek biographer, Plutarch once wrote, that “for the sake of a little flesh we deprive them the of the sun, of light, of the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being.” If we shut ourselves off to saving an animal any way we can, are we not continuing the idea that all farmed animals are without individualism? There is no right answer. This is where the idea that sanctuaries need to work together comes in.
The world of animal rescue is not without competition. It seems as though every sanctuary or rescue has its own way of operating – its own set of rules and guiding principles. Some will adopt their animals out to trustworthy homes, others will sell their animals for profit, and some will allow their animals to remain in one place for the rest of their lives. Ultimately, we all have the same goal – to help animals while educating and informing the general public about the inherent cruelties present in factory farming.
I have been lucky enough to have made some wonderful connections with local sanctuaries. We share our knowledge and experiences in order to learn from each other. There is no competitive behavior or judgment. This type of relationship is imperative when dealing with almost daily requests to take in an animal in need. We all have our limits and need to work within them. Having a support network makes it just that more manageable.
How to Help
Now it might seem that we as rescuers and caretakers of the animals are the only ones who can make a difference – but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Sanctuaries rely on donations and volunteers in order to continue to help animals. Take the time to visit your local sanctuaries and learn about the important work they are doing. Educate yourself and others about the realities of factory farming as well as those exploiting animals for profit and entertainment and share what you learn with everyone you know. The world is changing for the better. Make sure you are a part of that change.
All image source: Penny Lane Farm Sanctuary