Behind Farms' Closed Doors
By Connie Pearson
Imagine that you and thirty-six members of your family exist only to serve others. Your comfort, health, safety, emotional needs, social needs, and freedom are not a consideration. Imagine you and your family only experience a life of confinement inside a filthy shed with toxic air, no sunlight, open sores on your body. Imagine the day of your death is already planned; your throat will be slit, or you will be electrocuted, and your body will be ground into pet food or fertilizer.
Now imagine the door to the shed opening, and rescuers come to take you and your family out. Your injuries are treated. You and your family have room to move. You breathe clean air. You feel the sun on your face. Socialization is positive and natural; there is no more fighting for space, food, and water. When it is time you will die peacefully, and your body will be treated with respect.
For the majority of beings who are considered products for the animal agriculture industry, the door to the shed never opens. But earlier this year, doors were opened in four countries, and thirty-seven individuals were liberated, medically cared for, and are living their lives free from harm within the protection of sanctuaries.
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the U.S. team, Direct Action Everywhere, that rescued two egg-laying hens, Maya and Chloe, from the worst-case scenario. They are alive and well, and now experience safety and freedom. These should be basic rights for everyone, but tragically, animals all over the globe are denied even these in the name of food industries. Yet the desire to alleviate suffering is universal, as proven by Open Rescue International. ORI executed the first internationally-coordinated Open Rescue earlier this year. Twenty-one rescuers on three continents worked together to show that animal liberation is a world-wide priority. ORI is a coalition of animal liberation networks, with the goals of bringing awareness to the inherent abuse in animal agriculture, recognizing the individuality of the victims, and rescuing animals who are part of this system against their will. Until the rights of these individuals are recognized, we will work to liberate them and take them to safety.
When I was inside that shed, I was struck, of course, by the toxic air, the filth, and extreme overcrowding. But what affected me most was seeing injuries and open sores on the animals. These injuries will never be treated because they are not interfering with the hens' abilities to produce profitable eggs. I imagined my companion dog at home, and knew that if she had injuries as severe as many of these hens had, she would be given immediate medical care. The difference is that my dog is treated with kindness. She is not seen as a product. Therein lies the difference. It is ironic to note that the farm is a “humane-certified” facility. There was nothing humane about anything I witnessed.
I have been involved in the animal rights movement for decades. While I've seen an increase over the years in public awareness regarding the deplorable conditions in which farmed animals live, changes for these animals has not matched the increased awareness. It's now clear that years of talking about improving animal's lives by providing larger cages, more humane methods of slaughter, et cetera, will never get to the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter, as I see it, is this: Animals must be seen as individuals with rights, and not as commodities. It's the mindset that needs changing, not the size of the cages.
This is where Open Rescue comes in. It is the most direct way to bring real awareness- change-making awareness- by sharing the stories of rescued animals. Years of working on animal liberation through more conventional methods has not brought change quickly or deeply enough. Participating in Open Rescue resulted in two immediate transformations: creating better lives for Maya and Chloe, and telling their stories to the world. It's easier to ignore facts involving billions of animals when there is no individual to relate to. But when the names and faces of these beings are known, revolution becomes more urgent in the mind of the public. My participation brought the story of Maya and Chloe to the world. And that story will be a part of the necessary end result: liberation for all animals.
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