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Lorri Bauston: Co-Founder of The Farm Sanctuary.Interview by Doh Driver
How long have you and your partner, Gene, been (vegetarian and) vegan?
I became a vegetarian when I was 16 years old. I have always loved animals, and it occurred to me one morning that if I love animals called "pets", I shouldn't be eating animals called "dinner".
How did you decide to start farm sanctuary, and how did it materialize?
Gene and I wanted to learn more about the "food animal" industry, so we began investigating stockyards and factory farms. During one of our first visits to a stockyard, we found a sheep dumped on a pile of dead and decaying animals behind the stockyard, and she was still alive. We rescued "Hilda" that day, and then realized we need to start the country's first shelter for farm animals!
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Thanks to the generosity and commitment of our members, Farm Sanctuary has continued to expand its campaign and program budget every year, enabling us to play a major role in farm animal protection efforts. Last year, we were a key sponsor of the successful Florida initiative to ban "gestation" crates for pigs, and we want to continue helping farm animals through other initatives and legislative efforts. We also received a land donation of 160 acres in Los Angeles County to start a third Farm Sanctuary shelter & education center, and we open to break ground on "Farm Sanctuary-Los Angeles" in the next couple years.
How do you find situations where animals are abused? How do you then take the animals from the abusers?
Farm Sanctuary rescues animals through a variety of situations, including animals we find suffering during our investigations of factory farms, stockyards and slaugtherhouses. We also receive dozens of calls every year from SPCA's, humane societies and other animal protection groups and individuals needed assistance with farm animal rescues and placement.
What do you do if/when if you don't have room to take in more abused animals?
Farm Sanctuary has a "Farm Animal Adoption Network" comprised of dozens of people across the country who have opened their hearts and homes to needy farm animals. We are always looking for more loving adoptive homes, and anyone interested can call us for an adoption application or apply online at: www.farmsanctuary.org. Recently, when our New York shelter pig barn was full, we were able to help over 60 pigs find safe, permanent homes through our adoption network.
What is the biggest challenge for you in this endeavor? What is the greatest reward?
The greatest reward is looking into the eyes of animal that you have been able to directly save from slaughter. The biggest challenge is knowing there are still so many more suffering farm animals that need our help--which is why Farm Sanctuary spends an equal amount of time and resources on legislation, legal actions, public awareness, and education programs.
How many people (volunteers and paid staff) work for Farm Sanctuary?
Every year, over 50 people participate in our volunteer internship program, where individuals live and work on one of our farm shelters for a minimum of one month. Currently, we also have 38 paid staff members.
Do you have educational programs for schools or children? Do you alllow children to visit the farms?
Farm Sanctuary's New York and California shelters are open to children of all ages and we offer a variety of day tours, conferences, and special events like our "4th of July Pignics". Visitors can also stay overnight at our 'barn & breakfast' cabins. Anyone interested in visiting can give us a call for further information or check out our website for tour & event schedules, directions and accommmodation information.
Farm Sanctuary also operates a "Cultivating Compassion" humane education program. We have a full-time humane educator in New York City who can provide assistance to anyone interested in promoting humane education in our schools, and we offer free humane education guidebooks, lesson plans and materials to teachers across the country.
What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about the situation of animals?
Most people do not realize how cruelly farm animals are produced, transported and slaugthered, and that farm animals are specifically excempt from most state anti-cruelty laws. It is considered "legal" in most states to drag 'downed' cows to slaughter, or confine animals for years in crates so small that they cannot even turn around. There is basically NO humane protection for farm animals--and yet they comprise over 95% of animals exploited by humans.
Is there anything else you would like to add? Farm animals are living, sentient beings--they are not 'breakfast, lunch or dinner'. We invite everyone to come to our farms and kiss a cow, talk to a turkey and give a pig belly rub---because we know that once you do, you will want to do everything you can to protect them. And, the easiest way to protect farm animals from harm is to stop eating them, and their byproducts like milk and eggs. It's the most simple and effective action that everyone can take to stop animal suffering. Thank Mooo!
For more information on what YOU can do to help farm animals, please visit www.farmsanctuary.org or call 607-583-2225 Farm Sanctuary P.O. Box Watkins Glen, NY 14891