A few weeks ago, we received hundreds of messages about Sprout Creek, Marist College’s “humane” farm, who had announced that they were closing, citing lack of funding due in large part to COVID-19. Word spread rapidly through the Hudson Valley community that many of the animals would be going to a livestock auction earlier the following week, and everyone who reached out to us had just one simple question: “Can you help?”
On Sunday night, two staff members drove to Poughkeepsie with a truck and trailer hoping to negotiate a few of the animals into our care. They were sent away, as were others making the same effort.
Two very different world views played themselves out in the Sprout Creek saga. Some folks love animals, but still believe that they exist essentially for human benefit. Others believe, like we do, that animals are here with us, and the differences in those views have come to define this rescue and its aftermath. What remained unclear as we returned with an empty trailer and a promise that the animals were all “placed” and would be “humanely managed” was where, exactly, these 200+ animals would be going. We still can’t say with complete certainty that none of them wound up at Unadilla Livestock Company, a notorious live-animal auction—the outcome so many people worked tirelessly to prevent.
After reaching out to other sanctuaries and rescuers, and after receiving about a dozen “first-hand,” contradictory accounts that all animals had been placed in good homes (while simultaneously learning that, in fact, many of them were scheduled to be auctioned), we were delighted to ultimately welcome four baby goats after they were initially taken in by Hudson Valley Animal Rescue and Sanctuary and Hunks and Hunnies Santuary.
As thrilled as we are to offer these 10-week old babies a loving, forever home, we do not celebrate the placement of others at farms who will profit from them until they are ultimately slaughtered. In our view, “loving homes” don’t breed, don’t milk, don’t sell for profit or otherwise dispose of animals when their production dwindles. It’s the world view thing.
Just because a pregnant dairy cow winds up at a dairy farm instead of at a livestock auction doesn’t mean she’ll be safe next year, and it doesn’t mean that her baby will be safe if he’s born male. A true victory for these animals would be winding up at a place where they can live out their lives in peace and freedom — exactly what we wish for dogs rescued from puppy mills and other abuse situations.
It’s encouraging to see so much outrage and backlash on behalf of cows, chickens, and goats, and it is disturbing to consider what happened to the ones no one can account for, but isn’t it equally heartbreaking when they’re killed one at a time? Can the outraged folks who contacted us requesting that we intervene accept another working farm as a justifiable outcome for these baby cows, goats, and chickens, knowing that in a few months or a year’s time, those very animals will meet the same fate that outraged them in the first place?
If we take the position that animals do exist for our use and that those existences are defined by our desire to eat them, we ask: Why does it matter at the end of the day whether they lived in a pasture or a barn if they wind up on the doorstep of the same slaughterhouse with so much life left to live? The very need for these “humane” labels suggests that something important is going on in the human psyche: perhaps we are at the precipice of understanding that there truly is no meaningful difference between the animals we love and yearn to protect and the animals that are being killed by the billions behind closed doors every single year.
This isn’t our first foray into rescuing animals from “humane” farms, and it won’t be our last. We’re overjoyed that these four and so very many others could be rescued! We hope that as they grow up, their story will help pull back the heavy veil of “humane” labeling that covers so much cruelty. As we’ve learned from many “humane” and “backyard” and “farm to table” rescues over the past two decades, there is no right way to do the wrong thing.
These goats will need a lot of love. At a few weeks old, they are navigating the world without their mothers. We didn’t get into rescue work because we thought it would be easy, but during COVID-19, with our staff exhausted, things are tougher than ever. Like sanctuaries around the country, we have been impacted heavily by the loss of key income streams. Still: helping animals is what we do. For the folks who can help financially, we need you more than ever. They need you.
From all of us at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, we are so thankful for your compassionate hearts.
Love Spoken Here.
Special thanks to our friends at Hudson Valley Animal Rescue and Sanctuary and Hunks and Hunnies for helping to facilitate the safe placement of 200 animals.
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