When Carolita McGee was seven, her father moved their family to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
“Right away, I was drawn in by the forested backyards we had. Even though I enjoyed having friends, nothing compared to the calming & blissful feeling I would get when I was immersed by nature & her Crtrs (critters ;-)),” Carolita wrote in an email discussing her recent petition against the Olympic Game Farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “It was around 10 years old that I promised nature I would take care of her & that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Formerly a pet sitter, veterinarian assistant and a worker in the pet shop industry — which she no longer supports, she now helps animals of all kinds, wild and domestic, as a volunteer. She works with local animal control officers and sometimes asks PETA for help when other avenues are exhausted.
As a pet sitter in Los Angeles, Carolita specialized in reptile care and provided basic grooming, including baths & mani/pedis for animals with feathers, scales and fur.
She adopted pets that were no longer wanted or near death, which resulted in having 31 Crtrs at one time in a large apartment with no furniture except a TV on the floor. “I slept on the floor for many years so that my pets could have the best set-up I could give them,” she wrote. They included iguanas, snakes, rodents, a rabbit, fish and a parrot she still has.
“People don’t want to be preached to, so I’m using a different twist to get the message across,” she wrote. “My morning ritual includes signing petitions, writing letters to our government, using social media to share and raise awareness on animal advocacy.”
She continues to work with animal control on local matters and recently started a petition against Olympic Game Farm.
How did you become aware of the Olympic Game Farm?
My husband, Scott, and I visited the farm per a referral from one of the bed and breakfast places we were staying at nearby. We told her about our love for animals and nature, so we were very excited about this “sanctuary” she was raving about!
What kinds of animals live there, and how do do visitors see or interact with them?
We saw farm animals, camel, llama, ponies, bears, wolves, elk, zebra, bison, etc. You pay extra to pet the farm animals, and there are usually kids who enjoy that section. You can pay a dollar or two to buy a loaf of wheat bread to feed the safari animals.
You drive your car on this road that takes you to an open field of wild animals that stick their heads in your window for bread. I didn’t notice a single employee around to make sure no human or animal gets hurt.
We would often get so nervous thinking we were going to run over an animal because they have absolutely no fear of cars. Why would they? Each car is filled with junk food!
We noticed a reptile house and an above-ground pool labeled “aquarium” that cost extra. We regret not checking these out, but we were already so overwhelmed with sadness and disgust about how these poor animals are exploited, we couldn’t stomach it anymore.
What are the animals’ living quarters like?
The animals in the open field have little shelter — just a few wooden beams and a roof scattered here and there. We saw two Kodiak bears in their own open area with just a metal half dome for shelter. There were no pools, nothing to climb around on, but plenty of bread being tossed at them.
A solo black bear and three wolves were housed together in a small, wire enclosure with very little to provide enrichment. These animals were pacing back and forth, showing obvious signs of boredom and frustration. This is the last section we saw before rushing out of there. Unfortunately, I became too overwhelmed.
What are they eating?
The owner said in one article that they are fed fruits, veggies, meat, grains etc. and that the bread is merely a treat, but if you’re open to the public 8+ hours, 7 days a week, offering loaves of bread to every visitor, this bread becomes their staple diet. Even as a treat, it provides no nourishment and can be harmful to these animals. Even the USDA doesn’t approve of this, but they haven’t pushed the owner to stop, which boggles my mind. (I will be posting copies of the USDA reports soon.)
What else are the animals experiencing?
Scott and I mostly witnessed much sadness with many of the animals there. In addition to the pacing, there were animals just still, staring into space. Words are not enough to describe just how absolutely sad they were. It’s gut wrenching. One bear wouldn’t take the bread being tossed at him/her, yet people wouldn’t stop tossing them as they hit his/her body.
Does the game farm charge to visit?
Yes. $14 per person.
Who owns the farm, and how have they responded to your efforts?
Robert Beebe owns the farm. I’ve written a letter to him which he never responded to.
What can I do to help?
Thanks much for asking.
A word of encouragement for all of us
I’m sure you know this already, but with the animal welfare laws being so weak, being an animal advocate can often times feel like we’re running in place to never reach the finish line. This can be quite frustrating and exhausting, but laws change due to persistence and continued courage. Every day I’m learning to be strong for these wonderful non-human beings. Each and every one of them are worth the pain that comes with the fight. I strive to live to see the day animals & their habitats are no longer slaves & exploited for human benefit. That they live to be, at the very least, respected, living wild and free.
Photos used with permission of Carolita McGee.
The Zoological Wildlife Conservation Center & Sloth Center is holding a “Santa Sloth” fundraiser in Olympia on Thursday, Dec. 14, at which sloths and lemurs will be used as photo props.
The Center itself has negative USDA reports and had a lemur die in August when it was left outside overnight and coyotes came onto the property. Indeed, they “they breed animals, sell animals into private ownership, and allow the public to handle animals on the premises. They are not accredited by GFAS,” according to ICARUS Inc.
In light of that background, perhaps it’s not surprising that the Center has not gotten the word about using wildlife as props.
Let’s each take a moment to remind them and those planning to attend the event above. Thank you!
Thanksgiving is a time of mixed emotions for many vegans. It’s nice to share traditions and favorite vegan recipes with family and friends — but it’s a holiday that also reminds many of us of the destruction wrought by the arrival of white people on this continent and the deaths of 46 million gorgeous beings every year, birds who were born only to suffer, die and be complained about as “dry, stringy” meat on the tables of Americans.
Next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Seattle Farmed Animal Save will bear witness to turkeys being sold for local Thanksgiving tables. The group will gather and hold signs on the highway outside the live animal auction at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion (22712 SE 436th St, Enumclaw). It’s a bit of a drive, but you can drop by the Redwing Cafe on your way there or back for a yummy treat.
I’ve never been there before Thanksgiving, but founder Kristina Giovanetti (who beautifully described the power of bearing witness in an earlier NARN post) says it’s what you would expect: Box after box after box of turkeys being sold. No price is decent for a living being, but these animals go for shockingly little.
As you probably know based on Instagram posts from all over the world, the Save Movement is powerful and heartening and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Please join us on Saturday!
Here are photos from a recent live auction — beautiful animals with numbers on them:
What could be better? A cooking class with the brilliant chef Renee Press of Fire and Earth Kitchen, who knows her way around a holiday — or any kind of — meal, plus a tour of Pasado’s Safe Haven, where a whole barn is named for NARN. Now you can have both on the same day, and bonus: It’s a fundraiser for the animals!!
This Saturday (Nov. 4) is your chance! From noon to 3 p.m., for $65, you can have all those good vibes and all this good food: creamy potatoes au gratin with herbed cashew crumbs, cranberry pecan rice salad and roasted delicata squash rings with savory mushroom gravy. Yes!
Get your tickets here! And look forward to a fun class and to meeting all the wonderful animals, including the billy goats, pigs and llamas who call the NARN Barn home!
How did the NARN Barn get its name? Not many people from NARN or Pasado’s remember anymore, but NARN’s Rachel Bjork checked with Joe Haptas, who was NARN’s executive director from 1998 to 2002. He recalled a large donation — perhaps $30,000, the largest ever for NARN and the Margaret Kyros Foundation given “to build the barn and to encourage Pasado’s to have a strong focus on farm animal issues and to promote a plant-based diet to the public through their work.”
There was a big, fun dedication event for the barn’s opening, Haptas said, where someone “broke a bottle of champagne against the barn to christen it, if I recall correctly.” It was in the late ’90s, and “Pasado’s really seemed to take off from that point and grew so quickly,” he said.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.
Here’s Tofu’s story:
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.
If you happen to be in Europe this fall, she’ll also be speaking in Luxembourg in September at the International Animal Rights Conference.
It was a great weekend for spreading the good vegan word! By the end of the U District Streetfair, all our boxes of literature were empty — hooray!
We have a couple more events coming up and would love to see you, either as a tabler or a leafletter, or both! Tabling shifts are typically three hours.
“Paramedics don’t need to cut open the throat of a pig when they have other options,” Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, told the The News Tribune regarding the University of Washington’s practice of using live pigs to practice a medical procedure that involves slitting their throats.
“I would like to see the university take responsibility and to search out different ways to solve these situations,” said Appleton, who is one of eight members of the state House who signed a letter asking the UW to consider using modern training methods instead of animals.
The university says it’s looking into it.
Let’s thank Rep. Appleton for publicly talking sense about this. Her number is (360) 786-7934, and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the other reps who signed the letter: Jessyn Farrell of Seattle, Strom Peterson of Edmonds, Judy Clibborn of Mercer Island, Cindy Ryu of Shoreline, Joan McBride of Kirkland, Joe Fitzgibbon of Seattle and Mia Gregerson of SeaTac.
A lawmaker from Wisconsin had the bright idea that milk should be labeled milk only if it’s dairy. She wants to limit the use of yogurt and cheese, too. She’s wrong, of course. The dictionary could tell her that.
Nevertheless, Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s DAIRY PRIDE Act (some people need the all caps) has picked up some steam.
Please call you senators to remind them about the dictionary — and that there are more important things to be spending time on than changing the definition of milk.
In Washington state, our senators are:
Patty Murray: (202) 224-2621
Maria Cantwell: (202) 224-3441
If you’re in another state, here’s an easy way to look up your senators’ contact info.