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How much do you know about the farm
animals providing your eggs, milk and meat? Do you know how they live or what
their personalities are like? Unfortunately, many people don’t know much about
the farm animals living in our country. In honor of National
Farm Animals Awareness Week (September 14 to 20), we take a look at Farm Sanctuary, an organization trying to increase awareness about such animals.Farm Sanctuary was founded in 1986 with a mission to combat factory farming
and help protect farm animals from cruelty. Its members work to inform the public
about how the animals are treated and to convey an understanding of their intelligence, emotions and behavior. Farm Sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur says that when Farm Sanctuary started, there was little
awareness about the way animals in production systems were being treated, so
the organization began to document conditions.
“We’d find living animals left for dead, so we started rescuing them,” he says. “Our shelter operations began, and we realized it
was also important to educate people so that [they] could start making choices
that did not support this kind of abusive system, and we
continue doing that.”
Farm Sanctuary rescues
animals hurt by factory farming. Factory farming
refers to the practice of raising animals in high-density confinement to maximize profits, often using abusive practices and sacrificing animal welfare and the environment to reach that goal. Baur says
these farms often raise thousands of animals in terrible conditions, and when an
animal’s health starts to decline, the animal is often discarded. The sanctuary
becomes aware of these animals a number of ways, including being contacted by
people who work at the farms and neighbors who see animals being mistreated
or denied basic care. Farm Sanctuary also takes in animals affected by disasters, such as
floods that wash them out of barns or storms that knock barns down. Animals who get free while being transported or who are involved in car accidents and need
help are also brought to the group.
Sanctuary National Shelter Director Susie Coston
usually goes on the animal rescues. Coston says that unless it’s just one animal, a
team is typically assembled for a rescue. She
is often the one to make sure animals are
healthy enough for travel before they are transported to one of three sanctuaries.
Coston has worked for Farm
Sanctuary for 14 years and oversees
its animal sanctuaries. She spends a lot of her time at the largest, in Watkins Glen
in New York, but she often travels to the other two, which are in California.
According to Coston, what makes the sanctuaries unique is the individual care
given to animals. Each animal’s health issues are documented on her own chart. This personal attention is something these animals do not receive in the larger factory
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