Vegan Outreach: Capitol Hill Block Party

Raise Your Voice! It’s Not Too Late for the Mountain Goats: Deadline 10/10/17

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Oreamnos_americanus#/media/File:Wherever_you_go_I_will_go.JPG) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Oreamnos_americanus#/media/File:Wherever_you_go_I_will_go.JPG) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Anyone who’s so beleaguered by the treatment of animals or the state of politics in this country, or both, that they haven’t taken time to speak up for the mountain goats of the Olympic Peninsula  (HERE IS THE LINK TO COMMENT) should take heart: We have been here before. We can make a difference.

Just ask Roger Anunsen and Cathy Sue Ragan-Anunsen. They helped lead the fight against removing the mountain goats in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when it seemed the National Park Service (NPS) had its case all sewn up.

The Anunsens represented The Fund for Animals (now part of The Humane Society of the United States) on the National Park Service Olympic Mountain Goat Management Committee and ended up reading the NPS’s entire case — article after report after brief — on long drives between their home in Oregon and meetings about the goats in Port Angeles.

Before they started reading the full documents, “we believed everything that the park officials said publicly and to the media and thought the only remaining question would be how to solve the (alleged) problem in a non-lethal manner,” Ragan-Anunsen said. Reading every available document changed their minds.

First, the NPS didn’t acknowledge historic evidence — including a 1896 report from National Geographic, which was one of the foremost scientific publications in the country — that goats lived on the Olympic Peninsula before the 1920s, when other reports say people first located them there. The NPS “told the public over and again that there was no evidence whatsoever that mountain goats were ever seen in the Olympics before the 1920s,” the Anunsens said. But, they said, their FOIA records request uncovered the fact that the NPS knew about that same 1896 National Geographic article and intentionally hid it from the public.

Why would the park service hide something like that? It’s hard to say, but possibly because they believed it was in the best interest of the area’s plants that the goats be removed, the Anunsens said. One group pushing hard to remove the goats were concerned about native plants — but the vegetation studies they cited were either flawed (the goats were drawn to salt blocks that the NPS’s own scientists had placed near the plants in order to attract the goats for a goat study — oops) or found the goats had little to no actual impact on the plants.

The Anunsens, The Fund for Animals, professional photographers Keith and Antje Gunnar of Whidbey Island, and others campaigned for years to keep the goats in what may be their native habitat, and they succeeded with the help of many others who reconsidered their position once they became aware of park officials’ unsubstantiated claims and “sloppy science” that served as the foundation for their effort to remove or kill the Olympic mountain goats. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks helped. So did The Seattle Times’ editorial board.

It’s unclear why a similar widespread campaign is not happening now, the Anunsens said. But some reporters have documented the parallels:

  • The Kitsap Sun’s Seabury Blair Jr. views the state’s environmental impact statement as “an impressive document that demonstrates four decades dedicated to justifying slaughter of a wild animal.”
  • A conservation biologist who led an independent team looking into the goats’ impact on the peninsula in the ‘90s found that the goats now there came from the 1920s goats — and that they have little impact on the rare native plants. Wind, rain and snow do more damage, he recounted to The Seattle Times’ Evan Bush.
  • In that same article, Bush recounted questions that NARN board president Rachel Bjork posed at one of the poorly attended public meetings regarding the goats, along with the state’s answers:
    • Don’t you just want them for hunting in the Cascades? (Harris responded that officials are motivated to grow the Cascades populations. They’d need to see rising numbers before considering hunting.)
    • Why can’t you use contraceptives instead of killing? (Contraceptives are untested for mountain goats, Happe said, and only last for three years in other ungulates.)
    • Why allow the option to take some mountain-goat kids to zoos? Isn’t it inhumane to take them from their parents? (Kids could struggle in relocation and zoos are interested in young mountain goats, Harris said.)

It’s not the full-throttled outcry of the Fund for Animals, a U.S. representative and the editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper. Nor is it a book like 1998’s “White Goats, White Lies: The Abuse of Science in Olympic National Park” by R. Lee Lyman, an anthropology professor from the University of Missouri-Columbia. It’s also not the 25-page booklet, “Olympic Monarchs: Don’t Let Them Get Your Goat!” that the Anunsens compiled to refute the park’s case point-by-point and to save the goats from transfer, hunting, zoos and killings in the ‘90s.

For some reason, there’s not been an outcry this time — at least not yet.

“To make it through this part of the process without major controversy … I’m encouraged,” the park’s acting superintendent, Lee Taylor, told The Seattle Times. “It feels like this is the moment we could get it done.”

“[W]e could get it done” doesn’t sound right, perhaps because it’s not.

Let’s at least step up the number of comments the Park receives on behalf of the goats. Please let the Park know what you think of its plan for them — HERE IS THE LINK FOR COMMENTS, WHICH CLOSE ON 10/10/17. Please take a moment to take a stand with us. Please submit a comment, write a letter to your local paper, call your state or national lawmakers and post on social media on behalf of these mountain goats.

“I think we are now at that same stage we were in initial hearings [decades ago], where everyone believes it’s a done deal,” Ragan-Anunsen said. “If we can let them know it doesn’t have to be that way, if they want to be involved, perhaps we can stop the train in its tracks.”

 

Why Chimps Don’t Belong in Circuses

Some of the best fun you can have is reading blog posts from the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, where the chimpanzees and humans together create heartwarming, inspirational — and often educational — photos and stories. Thank you to sanctuary co-director Diana Goodrich, who recently wrote this post about chimpanzees and circuses, and generously gave her permission for us to republish it here:

An eight-year-old chimpanzee named Chance has been in the news lately. Chance is owned by the Rosaire family and has been used in entertainment for his entire life. He has appeared in commercials, television shows and movies, including The Wolf of Wall Street.

The reason Chance and the Rosaires have been in the news recently is due to this footage that PETA obtained of Chance performing with a leash around his neck.

Jody and Burrito

Jody and Burrito

Thirty years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for chimpanzees to appear in circuses and roadside zoo performances. In fact, Jamie, Burrito, and possibly Jody were all used as performers before their years as biomedical research subjects. They lived with trainers and were made to perform in order to entertain people.

Thankfully, we have learned a lot about the nature of chimpanzees over the years and, as a society, we’ve begun to question the appropriateness of using intelligent, social animals in this way. More and more people agree that whales belong in the ocean, not in small aquariums, that elephants shouldn’t be used as props for people to sit on, and that chimpanzees should not be raised by humans and taught to perform tricks just to amuse us.

The Rosaire family has been in the circus business for multiple generations, so it’s understandable that they are stubbornly holding on to their way of life and their views of exotic animals that many, if not most, people have reconsidered.

They argue that they are providing sanctuary for the animals in their care, and they even have legal nonprofit status and the word “sanctuary” in their name Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary.

Certainly, anyone who is familiar with true sanctuaries would immediately realize that putting a chimpanzee on a leash and having people pay to view him perform an act is a circus, not a charitable sanctuary, and that those entities have very different missions. But for those not as familiar, I’m not surprised that the Rosaires have their defenders.

Jamie and Burrito

Jamie and Burrito

It may be true that the Rosaires feel love for the animals in their care, but that doesn’t mean the animals are being afforded the life that they should or could have in an accredited sanctuary.

For more information on the Rosaires, see this page, and for how to distinguish between roadside zoos and sanctuaries, read this from CSNW and this from the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance and share with others.

When you see chimpanzees on television, in movies, or pictured on greeting cards, stop to consider what kind of a life that chimpanzee has. Exotic animal circuses survive only because people continue to pay to see animal performances. There are fewer and fewer chimpanzees being used in entertainment because fewer and fewer people think that they should be used in this way.

We hope the chimpanzees who remain in the entertainment business in the U.S. will be able to experience a different way of life someday, like Jamie, Burrito, and Jody, where the focus is on providing them with hundreds of choices that allow them to be who they are as chimpanzees and where their best interests are the top priority.

Jody, Jamie, Annie and Foxie

Jody, Jamie, Annie and Foxie

How We Can Make the Animal Liberation Movement Stronger

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By Anika Lehde

Hey, NARN Friends. Something has been on my mind lately. Like many people who are working to make the world a better place (for human animals and non-human animals), I’m sometimes disheartened by infighting, rifts, and snide name calling in activist spaces and movements—particularly the animal liberation and vegan movement. I’ve also noticed that there seems to be some major confusion between what I’ll call “Strategic Disagreements” and what is actually “Internal Accountability” to be non-oppressive ourselves.

I’d  like to take a moment to differentiate these two categories of tension within social movements. This is important because the first type, disagreements, doesn’t require any specific sort of response; indifference, cooperation, avoidance, collaboration—while not all ideal—are at least acceptable. But the second type, accountability, requires immediate, constant, and transparent action.

Strategic Disagreements

Most of us have experienced the arguments—sometimes mild, sometimes nasty—about specific tactics, results analysis, personalities, internal politics, public perceptions, etc. within activist communities and movements. We may have been in the mix or on the sidelines, but either way we felt how destructive infighting can be, because it rarely takes place when people are in a learning or listening mode and sometime devolves into personal attacks.

Often the disagreement is around what is truly “effective” activism. Groups claim to have the answer, based on their specific method of research or experience. They see resources or energy going to another tactic and are frustrated by what they perceive to be a waste of time or energy—precious resources in animal activist communities. They may be critical of other groups and express publicly that others are incompetent and jeopardizing the animals themselves.

Sometimes the fights are around how radical or controversial we should be in our activism. The more conservative argue that the negative impressions left by more extreme actions negate their benefit. The more radical argue that anything less that direct action slows progress and creates space for moral ambiguity. There are many more types of strategic disagreements, even, but these are two common examples.

We have been told by our wiser comrades to not fall into this trap, that our infighting is exactly what “the other side” is betting on. You may have even been told that those we fight against have infiltrated the activist ranks and purposely start these fights to keep us inwardly focused and too beleaguered to make any progress.

This may all be true, and most importantly, the often negative and nasty way in which these debates take place pushes new activists away, attracts personalities who thrive in conflict, and may distract from the work at hand. We should not let disagreements on strategy devolve into name calling, mockery, or become the actual focus of our activism. These types of strategic disagreements are very important to discuss, and we should also do everything in our power to have them in constructive ways that increase our knowledge and understanding. But if we can’t come to agreement, we can at least agree to disagree and let our multi-tactic movement move forward without delay.

Internal Accountability

Internal accountability is very different in nature, but can look similar on the surface. It can sometimes even include the same people or be conflated with strategy debates. Trying to create internal accountability, though, means setting standards and norms for social justice spaces that are inclusive, as safe as possible for as many as possible, and don’t allow other forms of oppression to thrive (such as racism, sexism, sexual abuse, classism, or any other oppressive behavior or policies). This sounds easy until we take into account how deeply oppressive behaviors can run, even unexamined within ourselves, and how the very leaders of movements are sometimes the worst perpetrators of oppressive—and even abusive—behavior. Developing spaces that fight oppression on every front is challenging, but must be done to create a strong foundation for animal activism.

When oppressive animal activist policies or leaders are called out or oppressive tactics are identified, those who are unaffected by the abuse often label this process as “infighting” or “whining” and call for its end the same way one might call for those with different tactics to curtail their public arguments. The problem is that these aren’t the same; in fact, calling for accountability within the animal liberation movement is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our movement, increase our ranks, and improve our strategies. We must hold each other to standards of non-oppression while doing animal activism. This is a never-ending process.

But why?

First, it is the right thing to do. This isn’t obvious to everyone. Those who watch as groups try to remove abusers from their ranks, or implement anti-racist practices, find the discord so uncomfortable (and it is) that they would rather sweep the issues under the rug rather than face them head on. They would rather look the other way and minimize the importance of these issues. This should be unacceptable. Even if if there was no benefit to animal activism as a whole (there is), creating safer spaces for activists should be a priority, because it is the right thing to do for people. Just because we fight for animal liberation doesn’t mean we are for human oppression. Besides, activism is difficult enough—we shouldn’t make it harder for those involved.

Second, it is the strategic thing to do for the animal liberation movement. Activist spaces that allow unchecked misogyny, racism, ableism, transphobia, or any other oppressive behavior to thrive will not attract the strongest and most skilled activists. The best activists will not tolerate an unsafe environment and certainly won’t trust us as peers. Oppressive activist spaces drive away the people with experience in other social justice movements who could bring important new ideas, strategies, and learning to the table. What’s more, our inability to be consistent with an anti-oppression approach will delegitimize the animal liberation movement and reduce the diversity of thought and experiences necessary for creating real change for animals. What it will do instead is attract privileged narcissists who reinforce oppressive hierarchies and who would rather dismiss and mock their activist peers than work to create strong communities of resistance.

For these two reasons, we need to embrace and welcome processes of internal accountability within the animal liberation movement. How this looks on the ground may be different for every group, depending on the current issues they are facing. This could be ensuring that leadership within the organization is non-hierarchical and doesn’t replicate white-supremacy and male-supremacy. It could be making sure there is a documented process for dealing with accusations of abuse or oppressive behavior within the community (and following it). It could mean not accepting when peer groups participate in or use racist, sexist, ableist, and classist tactics, and calling them to accountability when they do (this is what people often confuse as infighting, but is actually movement accountability). It could be creating a culture of learning and sharing about all types of oppression with a book club or a weekly article reading group. It could be creating true and deep connections with other activist communities by showing up in solidarity with those movements (without expectation of reciprocation) so we can learn even more how to infuse our animal activism with anti-oppression strategies. I highly recommend this last step as it is incredibly informative to experience other spaces that are welcoming.

No matter the exact step, it is imperative that we don’t confuse this critically important approach to anti-oppression and internal accountability with the common “infighting” about general tactics and strategies. We also should never dismiss the process of strengthening our movement and building better activist spaces as a distraction. It is not a distraction, but rather a truly foundational part of the work that we do for animals. The oppression of humans and animals has a common enemy, and we can’t fight for one cause (animals) while participating in and propping up other oppressions.

Remember, let’s have constructive debates about tactics, but let’s not ever tolerate oppression. We can fight oppression in all its forms together! Let’s go! If you want to chat with me more on this topic, you can find me on twitter at @veganscore.

About the author:

Anika Lehde is a former NARN board member (2013-2015) and current Advisory Board member. She also volunteers for Food Empowerment Project, where she helps organize volunteers for outreach, fundraising, education, and other vegan food justice programs in Washington State. When not volunteering, Anika is the President of a marketing consulting firm and lead writer for Seattle Vegan Score, a local blog profiling vegan people, events, companies, and animal advocacy.

What Not to Tell Your Kids About Zoos: National Geographic Leads the (Wrong) Way

National Geographic has published a “Family Field Guide” to lying to your children about zoos.

Personally, I take this as a sign that the zoo system is crumbling, when children are asking hard — but obvious — questions and a major organization dedicated to the environment and wildlife wants you to lie to them.

“No matter how innovative the spaces are, seeing wild animals in enclosures can be hard for children,” the post acknowledges. Rather than paint a pretty picture about releasing animals back into the wild (hmmm) and breeding programs (not a pretty picture at all!), how about some honesty regarding the fact that these animals are caged for our pleasure and, for some people, to alleviate human guilt about the extinction of so many animals in the wild.

Children have a lot to teach us about what’s right and wrong when it comes to animals. Maybe parents should be following their lead when it comes to zoos.

Ruby Roth writes children’s books that address these sorts of issues. One called “V Is for Vegan” is particularly wide-ranging and goes beyond animals used for food to talk about zoos and circuses and other forms of entertainment that persecute animals.

WA Is Killing Wolves For Ranchers Using Public Lands — Again

After targeting the Smackout Wolf Pack earlier this summer, Washington wildlife officials now are killing the Sherman Pack. The wolves’ crime? Killing livestock that ranchers graze on federal land.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s the third time the state has killed wolves for Diamond M Ranch, whose owner told The Seattle Times, “We don’t raise the cattle to feed wolves. We raise them to feed the heart of America.”

Officials use traps and shoot wolves both on the ground and from helicopters. After becoming extinct here in the 1930s, wolves began to migrate to the area following a resurgence in Yellowstone National Park.

Only six cattle were killed by wolves last year, the Times reported.

Fourteen conservation groups told Fish & Wildlife they didn’t like its secrecy in the Smackout Pack killings. Others oppose the killings but are afraid to speak out. It’s no wonder, after the disgraceful way Washington State University went after one of its own researchers for doing so.

Please let your voice be heard! Call or write to the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife know that ranchers need to live with that small amount of loss if they’re going to graze on public land:

Director Jim Unsworth:

director@dfw.wa.gov

306-902-2200

Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera:

2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA 99216-1566

509-892-1001

teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov

Congress Needs to Pass This Animal Abuse Bill — Please Call Your Lawmakers

As the Humane Society of the United States recently pointed out, the FBI wants to prosecute animal abusers as felons — and has the authority to do so in all 50 states, but not for crimes that occur on interstates, in stores that sell animals across state lines or in federal facilities and parks.

Congress is considering a bill — the bipartisan Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act — that would make it a federal crime to commit malicious cruelty to an animal on federal property or during interstate commerce.

Please call your lawmakers — in Seattle, that’s Rep. Pramila Jayapal at (202) 225-3106, Sen. Maria Cantwell at (202) 224-3441 and Sen. Patty Murray at (202) 224-2621 — to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 1494/S. 654, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. Encourage them to get it passed quickly, as well.

Help Decide the Fate of Mountain Goats on the Olympic Peninsula

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Oreamnos_americanus#/media/File:Wherever_you_go_I_will_go.JPG) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Olympic National Park officials will host four open houses regarding the fate of the peninsula’s hundreds of mountain goats. There’s one at the Everett Public Library’s auditorium at 5 p.m. on Aug. 16 and at Seattle Public Library’s Douglass-Truth Branch at 5 p.m. on Aug. 17.

If you can’t attend, please read recent coverage about the plan, which is available in full here, and send your comments to park officials.

It’s called the “Draft Mountain Goat Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement.” (Someday I’d love to see an EIS regarding humans!). Concerns about the goats are ecological — the Olympic Mountains are not their traditional territory — and involve safety, following the 2010 killing of a hiker by a mountain goat. Moving and killing the goats appear to be the main options, with no mention of contraception, just as officials ignored that option when they planned to kill hundreds of goats in the Olympics in the ’90s.

The comment period is open until Sept. 29, but please don’t wait to comment. Thank you!

 

Photo by Wingchi Poon (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Wingchi) Creative Commons license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

WA Killing Wolves Again. Please Write to Fish & Wildlife Director.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Washington state is again killing wolves to protect cows that ranchers graze on public parkland.

It comes in the wake of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission proposing to let hunters bait wolves, even though the state has 800 or fewer wolves and could drop below 150 if the proposal becomes reality, Project Coyote estimates. Hunters and trappers in Idaho already may kill up to 10 wolves per person each year, and IDFG regularly kills wolves accused of killing “livestock.”

The campaigns against wolves are relentless and monied.

Please write to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth to ask for more humane ways of dealing with the issue ranchers are having. Maybe they shouldn’t be grazing their animals on public lands?

Here’s Director Unsworth’s email address: director@dfw.wa.gov.

 

 

Action Alert: Ask USPO to Ban Shipment of Live Animals

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Millions of newborn chicks and ducklings are being sent through the mail as if they were inanimate objects. Barely a day old, they are packed in dark boxes without food or water and sent across the country on harrowing trips that can last up to 72 hours.

Farm Sanctuary has rescued a number of animals, including a beautiful chicken called Tofu, who were shipped this way. It recently rescued three ducklings at a post office, because the man who ordered them was too sick to pick them up. The ducklings had traveled from Iowa to California — across a desert by truck — sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur wrote in an email to supporters. They would have stayed in the box without food, water or care if Farm Sanctuary had not stepped in to help. The sanctuary, which named those sweethearts Dominga, Carrera, and Pavarotti, is now asking people to sign its petition for the U.S. Postal Service to ban shipments of live animals.

You can also contact Postmaster General Megan Brennan via her media contact, Toni Delancey, at toni.g.delancey@usps.gov and 202-268-3118. Here’s a sample message:

Dear Postmaster General Brennan,

Day-old chicks and ducklings are shipped around the country without food or water for up to 72 hours. As you know, many arrive dead.

You have the power to ban the shipment of live animals by mail. Please do everything you can to stop this abuse.

Thank you,

Your name

Here’s Tofu’s story:

Q&A With the Founder of Seattle Farmed Animal Save. Join Us in Enumclaw!

Kris stands with the "Animals Are Not Property" sign alongside Ryan and Shannon Hill of Sky's The Limit Sanctuary, Paul and Maggie Bowen, and Dave Roers outside the Enunclaw Live Animal Auction in June.

Kris stands with the “Animals Are Not Property” sign alongside Ryan and Shannon Hill of Sky’s The Limit Sanctuary, Paul and Maggie Bowen, and Dave Roers outside the Enunclaw Live Animal Auction in June.

Kristina Giovanetti is the founder of Seattle Farmed Animal Save, a nonprofit that’s part of The Save Movement, a global effort that started in December 2010 with Toronto Pig Save. The idea is to bear witness to animals sent to slaughter in our own communities. Kris has been holding personal vigils at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion’s live animal auction for about a year and invites everyone to join her.

The next vigil is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. As the Facebook invitation says, “We are a grassroots, love-based, and peaceful organization. We believe in non-violence and the transformational power of compassion. We follow a Tolstoyian perspective in that we do not believe in turning away from suffering, but instead moving closer to it.” It’s a heart-wrenching experience to watch roosters, geese, rabbits and others struggle and cry out as they are auctioned. There are almost always day-old dairy calves, piglets, lambs and baby goats — and once a month, they auction horses that are sold for slaughter.

It’s also powerful to stand on the road outside the pavilion with signs reminding people that animals don’t belong to us, encouraging them to go vegan, and to honk for the pigs. A surprising number of people honk! A lot yell for us to “get a job,” too, which is puzzling and good for a laugh.

Here’s a Q&A with Kris about The Save Movement in Seattle:

What moved you to start a branch of The Save Movement here?
In June 2016, I attended an all-day vigil in Toronto with Anita, the founder of The Save Movement. We spent 16 hours bearing witness outside pig, cow, and chicken slaughterhouses. The pigs deeply affected me – looking into their eyes, you can really see the fear, you can sense their suffering in a profound way.

Pigs are very much like dogs and to lock eyes with them, to reach out and stroke them in an attempt to provide a moment of comfort and then watch the truck turn into the slaughterhouse where you know they will be brutally killed just moments later is a life changing event.

That day in Toronto I became an activist.

When did you start going to the Enumclaw Live Animal Auction? What have you seen there?
When I returned home, I immediately started looking for places near me to connect with the animals and share their stories. My first trip to the auction barn in Enumclaw was in July 2016.

I’ve seen so many horrible things there – the chickens are transported in cardboard boxes with a few air holes punched in the sides. There is a stone-faced woman who always works the birds. She reaches in, pins their wings behind their back and yanks them out of the box. The birds are screaming, literally screaming as she holds them high and waves them around in the air for a few seconds as the auctioneer works the crowd and finally sells them for 3 to maybe 9 dollars. Then the woman shoves the screaming and terrified bird back into the box, head first.

The day-old male dairy calves always stay with me, in my mind, for days after I see them. They still have umbilical cords dangling from their bellies and look absolutely bewildered. They have no idea they are being sold to become veal calves and will spend the next few weeks chained to a crate and will then be killed.

This place sells lambs and baby goats, too. The babies are always very hard to see.  But I think the spent dairy cows are the most heartbreaking of all. They are absolutely skin and bones – it looks like they haven’t been fed for weeks. Their bodies are emaciated and they have large, swollen udders. But it’s the look in their eyes and the way they hang their head that just rips my heart out. These sweet, gentle beings have been impregnated over and over again, and have had their calves stolen from them every single time. Their bodies have been exploited and pushed absolutely to the breaking point. And when their milk production begins to wane, the farmers stop feeding them, then sell them to slaughter to become cheap hamburger meat. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to see them.

What does it mean to you to bear witness as these animals are sold? What is the power of bearing witness? 

Bearing witness is being present in the face of injustice and trying to help.  When we bear witness we become the situation – we connect with our entire body and mind.  And from that, action arises.  The purpose of bearing witness is to provide love and compassion to these animals, to share their stories, to show the reality of animal agriculture, raising awareness to the public, and helping people make the connection.  People need to understand what goes on so they will make the decision to stop supporting it.
How do people react to the protest? What do you think of the calls to “get a job”?  

We get about an equal number of supportive people and angry people, and a lot of people just pass by with no visible or audible reaction.  The supportive people will honk in a friendly manner and give a thumbs up.  The angry people show us their middle finger and yell at us.  The comment to “get a job” is so curious to me because we hear it all the time, and I’ve heard it at vigils all over the world.  I think what they are really saying is that we should do something constructive with our time.

Are there also slaughterhouses near Seattle? Where are they, and what do you know about them? 

Yes, there are two slaughterhouses within an hour of Seattle that we have investigated and will be holding vigils at.  Both of them are north of the city, around Stanwood and Mt Vernon.  The Draper Valley chicken slaughterhouse kills more than 800,000 chickens each week.

Do you plan to have vigils at the slaughterhouses, too?  

Absolutely!  We are learning the truck schedules and will be starting vigils up there very soon.

Seattle Farmed Animal Save

 

Please follow Seattle Farmed Animal Save on Facebook and on Instagram, and join Kris in Enumclaw next weekend.

If you happen to be in Europe this fall, she’ll also be speaking in Luxembourg in September at the International Animal Rights Conference.