Animals should be rescued from unsafe farm conditions

coloredited_oliviastaser_animals
Olivia Staser/Staff

Most of my classmates have probably never heard the term “open rescue,” which refers to the activity that has kept me up for hours at night several times in the past few months. Open rescue is the quietly radical act of entering farms, filming the conditions found inside and taking out the animals in the most severe need of care. It’s something that would be normal and widely celebrated were these animals dogs and cats. Instead, the act is often criminalized. By doing it, I am taking a stand against animal exploitation and the laws that allow it to continue. My act in solidarity with three other groups around the world this past weekend inspired thousands of people with the stories of animals rescued from violence.

As a member of the UC Berkeley animal advocacy group Berkeley Organization for Animal Advocacy and the advocacy network Direct Action Everywhere, l have long admired the work of open rescue. But I saw activists saving animals as fearless and wasn’t sure I could ever be brave enough to do what they do. I’d grown up hearing stories of people disobeying unjust laws as heroic. I never thought I would do it myself.

Then, one night, I did. I joined a team and went to a farm. What it came down to was compassion. I was not fearless when I entered that noisy, foul-smelling farm in the dead of night. No, I was full of fear, but I was prepared to put the needs of someone else first.

That someone else is a hen who was forced to lay more eggs than her body could bear. She had never been outside, never known freedom, never been treated with love. So when I was holding her in my arms, I communicated to her as well as I could that she was safe now. I tried not to shake because I wanted to be strong for her, but even as I said “it’s OK” over and over again, I knew that nothing about her life is OK.

She had known nothing but pain and fear. She had had her beak mutilated according to standard industry practice, and feathers were missing all over her body because of stress. I took comfort in the fact that she would now be given the medical care she needs and the love that every animal deserves, but I heard the fearful cooing all around me and knew that she was one of the lucky ones. The thousands of birds we cannot rescue will spend the rest of their lives crowded in that miserable place, and then they will be killed at just 2 years old because their egg production will decline. I can barely make myself look at them because I know their fate, and I wish I could save them all. Today, we don’t have the resources to save that many victims, but we are growing every day.

This was the first coordinated, international open rescue, but it will not be the last. In the United States, Sweden, Germany and Australia, 37 lives were saved. More rescues are on the way. As time goes on, others like me, even UC Berkeley students, will take action and transform this act of dissent into the new normal.

Cassie King is a UC Berkeley student.

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  • Heliya Izadpanah

    This is awesome. You’re awesome. Open rescue is awesome. 💕

  • Colburn Paul Clark

    Great article, very well written

  • Megan Torres

    This is fantastically written Cassie, good job!

  • ShadrachSmith

    There are laws about such things. If pigs were people you would have a moral argument for breaking an unjust law. But pigs aren’t people, so you are just breaking the law.

    • Megan Torres

      Pigs are people, pigs aren’t humans, I think that’s what you meant.

      • John John

        Pigs do not have a frontal lobe, nor do they have the fully-developed brain structure of humans.

        They are literally subhuman.

        Also, people literally means humans.

        • rodentx2

          They are not “literally subhuman.” That is YOUR perception, your BELIEF. The same argument about brain size was used to devalue black people and justify their enslavement to the “superior” civilized white folks.

    • rodentx2

      Pigs are not “things.” By classifying pigs are “property,” the law devalues them to the status of “things.” The law classifies such entities as corporations and ships as “persons.” Since pigs and people are not “things,” but “persons” (unlike corporations and ships), a sound moral argument for breaking an unjust, irrational law exists. Laws serve the interests of those in power, those who have power over others who cannot speak for themselves. If one man is cruel to a pig, he is guilty of breaking an anti-cruelty statute. If a lot of people abuse pigs in the name of commerce, the cruelty will be allowed by law. It makes no difference to the pig if one man or many people abuse him. So tell me, no moral argument exists to protect the pig?

      • ShadrachSmith

        That was gibberish, no offense intended.

  • Matt Johnson

    Great work Cassie! Open rescue is changing the world. This nonviolent direct action for animal rights. This is liberation in action!

    Check out the first and only community center for animal rights, right here in Berkeley! 2425 Channing Way,
    http://www.berkeleyarc.com

  • Marc

    Why not think about all the slaves in Africa and how to free them instead of a chicken forced to lay extra eggs?

    • Pamela Lampard

      Because someone else will be thinking about them……we want to think about the animals….

      • John John

        Bullshit. I was abandoned by my birthmother.

        Kids every day are in the shoes I was in. Not enough people are thinking about other humans RIGHT NOW.

        To focus on animals is an insult to your own species.

        • rodentx2

          You must get your VALUES from the Vatican. The Catholic Church openly despises animals, sermonizing that animals are “devoid” of reason and autonomy, and are “things” in our regard, not persons.

          Most humans are convinced that in the whole universe nothing matters as much as their lives, their well-being, their rights, their pleasure. Self-styled the “the Master Race” like the Nazis, most humans take it for granted that they are entitled to inflict any form of suffering and death they choose upon other animals, for whatever purpose they choose, sanctioning all the atrocities committed against them on the contention that ONLY humans matter! The most demented, troubled, overpopulated, harmful, violent, and destructive species on Earth, the only one that matters! And I’m supposed to pledge irrational allegiance to humanity? Excuse me, if I’ve insulted my own species! I’m human by birth, not by choice. If focusing on animals “is an insult to your own species,” that’s YOUR problem.

        • Pamela Lampard

          Bullshit nothing, how rude are you????? I am sorry you were abandoned by your mother….but there is an answer in that very statement…if a human can abandon their own child it does not say much for the values of the human race, and we are supposed to be the superior species…what a joke. If I want to focus on animals then that is my right to do so……Human beings are the scourge of the earth, they do not know how to treat their own species let alone others who have no voice. If I want to insult them then I shall ………

        • Colburn Paul Clark

          “When nonvegetarians say that ‘human problems come first’ I cannot help wondering what exactly it is they are doing for human beings that compels them to support the ruthless exploitation of farm animals” – Peter Singer Animal Liberation

    • Megan Torres

      Why can’t we do both? What, because we care about one oppressed group, we can’t care for another?

      • John John

        Because humans are more important, the same way an African woman suffering FGM is more oppressed than a wealthy Manhattanite that’s being catcalled.

        • rodentx2

          Humans think they are more important because most humans are divine legends in their own minds. To be fair, white supremacists believe they are more important than brown people. And human supremacists believe they are more important than the 99%. A tree is infinitely more important than human life on the contention that trees benefit the planet and all other creatures, while human life has proven to be non-beneficial (harmful) to the planet and all other creatures. What good is “civilization” without a happy and healthy planet for all Earthlings?

      • Marc

        Megan,

        If you think men, women and children enslaved in Africa are the same as a chicken forced to lay an extra egg…you need to get out more. Looking at your picture you are probably a kid so I’m going to go easy on you.

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