Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary is a small but amazing place not far from New York City. It’s in an absolutely gorgeous area, with rolling green hills and a quietness that NYC obviously lacks. But the best part is not the picturesque scenery surround the sanctuary, but that at Safe Haven, animals have the chance to live free from harm — the way it ought to be.
Founded by William and Ellen Crain, the mission of Safe Haven is to rescue abused and neglected farm animals and advocate for a compassionate lifestyle. William is a professor of psychology at City College of New York and the author of the recently published book, “The Emotional Lives of Animals & Children: Insights from a Farm Sanctuary.” Ellen is a pediatrician who founded the first national fellowship in environmental pediatrics. They’re obviously both incredibly accomplished people and spending time with them at their sanctuary was an honor.
It was also an honor to be around the sweet animals at Safe Haven, who include chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, turkeys, a miniature horse and a baby pig! All of the animals have distinct personalities and a unique, personal story. If you have yet to spend much time around “farm” animals, I urge you to go to your nearest sanctuary and do exactly that! When animals have the chance to let their personalities shine and interact with their friends (and sometimes frenemies!) it really becomes clear as to why exploiting them for their flesh, fur, feathers, etc is wrong.
We were at Safe Haven participating quite belatedly as part of Direct Action Everywhere’s (DxE) Sanctuary Day. DxE is a global network of activists who engage in nonviolent direct action, confronting speciesism in our society. Most people are aware of us through videos of our disruptions, which happen in places where animals are being exploited. The New York City chapter of DxE is relatively new, and we tend to work closely with another local activist group, Collectively Free. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do at DxE, please connect with us via Facebook.
Sanctuary Day was a way for us to connect with local sanctuaries and promote and support their meaningful work. Since Safe Haven is a small space, we were a small group of volunteers.
I fell in love with all the animals, but EJ really stole my heart. Days later, and I often think about him. I took this photograph of him and I think it really captures his spirit. As you can see, EJ has a deformed beak because a human decided to take the top part of his beak off. I don’t know why that person did something so cruel to him, and I’ll never understand how people can treat animals this way. Because of his beak, EJ has a tough time eating and food has to be mushed up for him.
EJ also has a tough time trusting humans. He spent a lot of time near us, following and watching, and for the most part, keeping his distance. I thought that maybe he wanted to know us, but considering the trauma of his past, I certainly could understand that he was unable to. I was happy that he let me get this close to him so that I could take his photograph. EJ is a really beautiful duck, don’t you think?
I wish everyone would go spend some time with animals at a sanctuary. Sanctuaries, no matter the size, need volunteers and support. And it’s not only great for us to see and hang out with animals, but it’s great for them, too. Animals used for “farming” are very social and love companionship. Leo the little piggy absolutely adored us and couldn’t stop wiggling his tail. It saddened me greatly to know that while we were hanging out with Leo, there were millions of baby pigs right at that moment who were on death row, suffering at farms. Don’t you think Leo the pig deserves a happy, full life, and that he shouldn’t be killed for human’s trivial pleasures? Luckily for him, Leo will never be killed to become a food product. From now on, every time I hear a “bacon” joke, I will think about sweet Leo who was spared. But so many more are not.
So I wish for anyone reading this to please consider the lives of animals, to respect them as you do your cat or dog, and to choose compassion. The first step could be visiting a sanctuary — take a tour or volunteer. All it takes is simply interacting with the animals you currently only see as “food.”If you’re already vegan, take a family member or friend with you!
Or you could watch a sweet video like this one:
If you’re against animal cruelty, you are already on your way. For more information on going vegan, check out websites like: Collectively Free, Choose Veg, and The Vegan Society. If you’re already vegan, please get involved! Connect with me and let’s get active.
until every animal is free,
PS: Have you been to a farm sanctuary recently? Do you run a sanctuary? Please let me know all about your experiences or work in the comments!