Open Rescue is Spreading - and You Won’t Believe What we are Digging up

By Aidan Cook

It has been just over three years since Direct Action Everywhere brought Open Rescue, the boldest tactic in the animal rights movement, back to American shores. In that time, it has expanded exponentially, with teams across the country taking animal liberation into their own hands. The force driving that growth is the very thing that sets Open Rescue apart. You see, by pulling back the curtain on “certified humane” farms, Open Rescue activists are challenging the most profitable narrative in the food industry: that there is an ethical, “humane” way to exploit and kill animals.

Open Rescue is the act of entering a farm without permission, documenting the conditions inside, and taking animals out, all without concealing your identity. By doing this, activists are putting the spotlight on the notion that there could ever be something wrong with saving animals’ lives. But perhaps the most striking thing about these investigations is the vast gulf they have exposed between the way that animal products are marketed, and the reality of life on a modern “humane” farm.

The latest corporation to come under the scrutiny of Open Rescue was Sprouts Farmers Market, after my team of Colorado activists entered Morning Fresh Farms, a cage-free egg producer less than an hour from Denver. In spite of all the horrors we have found at cage-free farms in the past, we were shocked by what we saw.

In each barn we visited, tens of thousands of hens were crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in a constant struggle to access food. Every single bird we examined was severely emaciated, and many resorted to cannibalizing the corpses of their sisters, who had starved to death. All of this flew in the face of Sprouts’ claim on their website that cage-free means hens have “unlimited access to food and fresh water.”

When we found Annie, she was on the brink of death, literally lying next to another dead bird. She had long ago resorted to eating off of the feces-covered ground, and her beak had become sealed shut with feces. As I watched her sway back and forth on the ground to the rhythm of her labored breath, eyes shut, I didn’t think she had any chance of surviving.

Annie's recovery was one of the most tense periods of my life. She spent three days on life support, with no promise that she would survive. Even after she came off oxygen, we had to tube feed her for a week before she could eat enough on her own.

But in Annie’s miraculous recovery, I see a promise. A promise that someday soon, far sooner than any of us can believe, the humane myth will be completely eradicated. No animal will ever be treated as an object, a machine to produce profit for someone else. We will all recognize that animals live for their own reasons, and that they are entitled to a life free from suffering.

Annie now lives with Hana and Alexis Low, the brave, inspiring activists who went into Morning Fresh with me, on the first of what will soon be hundreds of open rescue microsanctuaries in Colorado and around the country. But before that can happen, we’re going to need a lot more ordinary people like us who are willing to step up and take direct action for animals. This movement belongs to all of us, to Annie and her sisters, to every person of any species who is dreaming of a brighter tomorrow. It is high time we seize that ownership today.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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