|Sweet Pea, from Sunny Day Farms. Sweet Pea was lucky enough to be found by the kind folks at Sunny Day Farms, rather than “euthanized” with a pick ax by workers at E-6 Cattle Company. Photo from Sunny Day Farms|
Farm animal abuse videos are really important. There’s evidence that they decrease the amount of meat people eat. On average, people who see these videos don’t just switch from, say, beef to chicken, but actually reduce the total amount of meat they eat.
But they’re hard on animal advocates, who already know all the terrible things that can happen to animals raised for commercial use. I really admire the people who can take these undercover videos, since I can’t bare to watch even thirty seconds of them, much less experience it in person.
Confronting images of animal abuse can get you down if you’re already doing what you can to end animal cruelty. I think it’s a good idea for animal advocates to recharge through positive experiences with animals. Farm animal sanctuaries are a great way to do that. They allow people to interact with animals, learning that, yes, a pig does have a personality, just like a dog or cat. And they have the added benefit of not making you want to curl up in a ball in your bed for a week.
Texas has three farm animal sanctuaries devoted to caring for abused and unwanted farm animals. I’ve talked a lot about Sunny Day Farms in La Coste, outside San Antonio. A big part of Sunny Day Farms’ mission is to introduce kids to farm animals. You can schedule a school field trip or Farm School, an age-appropriate introduction to life on the farm through stories, activities, and interaction with the animals.
|Willey at Serenity Springs Sanctuary. Photo by Serenity Springs Sanctuary|
There’s also Serenity Springs Sanctuary in Forestburg, Texas, northwest of DFW. Serenity Springs has a variety of farm animals at their sanctuary, though they specialize in pot bellied pigs. These pigs are increasingly kept as pets, and often owners find out quickly that they’re not up to caring for a pig.
|Chester at Dreamtime Sanctuary. Photo by Dreamtime Sanctuary|
Dreamtime Sanctuary is just outside Elgin, a little east of Austin. Dreamtime Sanctuary began when Nancy Jensen-Case and her daughter wanted to help abandoned horses in a neighboring pasture. With a little help from a sanctuary in Arizona, Dreamtime is now the home of 14 horses, 3 burros, 30 sheep, 8 goats, 18 pigs, 8 dogs, and 14 cats.
All three organizations encourage visitors and volunteers, though it’s a good idea to schedule a visit ahead of time. Volunteer with some friends. Take your favorite kid to pet the animals. Or plan a bake sale to raise money for your favorite sanctuary.