During the recent hurricanes in Florida and Texas, there was a lot of coverage of the animal rescue efforts. Lost and abandoned pets in the area were “rescued” by well-meaning individuals and taken to a safe area, in some cases half way across the country. The concept of rescuing animals has become more and more pervasive and aggressive, and it has blurred the lines between theft and vandalism.
Leave your dog in your car or the back of your pick up while you run into McDonald’s to grab a burger or use the restroom? You will likely return to find the windows of your car broken, your dog gone, and the police waiting to arrest you. All because some animal lover decided your dog needed to be “rescued.” In some states, it is legal for people to do this. The farm animal rescue movement is not new and has, in the past, resulted in late night raids on farms where animals are turned loose to wander the countryside to be eaten by coyotes, all in the name of being rescued. While there are true cases of abuse that must be stopped, the rescue movement is being used to justify radical animal activism.
Now the farm animal rescue movement has taken a turn toward radical, or ridiculous. "We have taken your birds to a sanctuary, where they can be free," is what Aidan Cook, an animal rights activist, said when he was confronted after stealing chickens from the farm of Larry and Kristin Ramey. The group, Denver Baby Animal Save and Direct Action Everywhere Colorado, specifically targeted the Ramey farm – not because they were abusing animals or even because they were a large confined feeding operation – but because they were not. “We seek out places that are selling what we call the 'humane myth' or 'humane lie,'" Cook said. "It's this idea that if you treat them the right way then there is an ethical way to exploit and kill animals. ...We want to show that no matter how well you treat someone during their life, that doesn't give you the right to kill them."
The animals were pasture-raised and the farm does not debeak chickens – nor does it clip their wings, toenails, or spurs, Ramey said. Poultry is killed, for food, on site, which Ramey said eliminates the need to pack them onto trucks and move them to another location, an experience that can be stressful for the birds. This represents a new level of activism as the animal rights movement is now even attacking farms that do what the activists have been calling for.
A true sign that the farm animal rescue movement has gone main stream, it now has a celebrity spokesperson. Tracey Stewart, and her husband, former Daily Show host Jon Stewart, bought a farm in New Jersey and announced plans to open a sanctuary for rescued farm animals. As a former vet tech, she claims to know what is best for animals. Being the wife of a celebrity, she gets to spout her anthropomorphic twaddle to major media outlets like NPR, CBS and the New York Times. Oh, and yes, she has also written a book.
The Farm Sanctuary organization that Stewart is affiliated with is opposed to modern livestock agriculture. Its website states, “Factory farms employ abusive practices that maximize agribusiness profits at the expense of the environment, our communities, animal welfare, and even our health.” Like most in the animal activist movement, the real goal is the elimination of animal agriculture and of meat from our diets.
People who “rescue” animals feel sanctimonious and self-righteous. Their actions are so moral and so commendable that they can overlook theft and vandalism of other people’s property; and, if you dare question their motives, then you are being inhumane. It has been my observation that those people who are the most passionate about rescuing animals know the least about what animals really need or how they should be treated.
Whenever you hear the term “rescue,” beware. If you have a farm with livestock, no matter how you raise them, beware. There may be someone out there who feels they need to rescue them from your care.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Gary Truitt may write to him in care of this publication.