HomeAnimalFarm Sanctuary, Then and Now: Celebrating One other Yr of Compassion

Farm Sanctuary, Then and Now: Celebrating One other Yr of Compassion


What’s a notable problem that you’ve confronted? How did this expertise form you as an advocate and activist and affect the way in which you interacted with others shifting ahead?

The Hegins pigeon shoot in Pennsylvania was a spotlight of the animal rights motion within the late Eighties. It was an annual neighborhood fundraiser centered round capturing pigeons and ingesting beer. Animal advocates started exhibiting as much as protest with the intention of stopping the killing. We might vocally reveal our opposition and disgust with the occasion, usually leading to open battle with its contributors. Varied arrests have been made over time as police tried to take care of order within the midst of what turned a unstable surroundings. The violent circus ambiance attracted shoot supporters who loved the battle, which made us notice that our confrontational strategy was not having the supposed outcome.

We determined to vary our techniques; somewhat than combating with shooters, we started documenting the violence of the pigeon shoot and rescuing injured birds. When the shooters and their supporters sought to battle, we refused. Sadly, the group started to tackle extra drastic measures to stir us up. They rushed to catch injured birds with the intention to forestall us from serving to them. They usually’d rip off the birds’ wings and chew off their heads, making an attempt to incite conflicts with us.

Because the shooters escalated their confrontational techniques, nonetheless, we remained nonviolent and continued documenting their conduct. Through the multi-year battle, Farm Sanctuary included as a Pennsylvania legislation enforcement company and filed cruelty costs, complementing different authorized methods underway to finish the shoot. Our conduct got here to be seen as respectable and accountable, and the shooters, nonetheless looking for to create violent confrontations, have been behaving in abominable methods. Their place turned much less tenable and extra determined.

Within the occasion’s remaining 12 months, the shooters’ violence was repeatedly met with nonviolence, which in the end prevailed. On the finish of the day, after most individuals had left, a small group of animal advocates convened round a veterinary van the place rescued pigeons have been being cared for. When a gaggle of annoyed shooters came visiting for one final strive at stirring up a battle we linked arms and turned our backs to them, inserting ourselves between the shooters and the pigeons. Fortunately, the police arrived simply because the shooters did and informed them to disperse. It was a becoming finish to an unpleasant occasion. This episode helped me perceive the facility of nonviolence in creating social change.

Ultimately, we have been in a position to rescue dozens of pigeons, lots of whom got here to dwell at Farm Sanctuary. And should you go to our Watkins Glen shelter right now, you’ll be able to see the descendants of those Hegins birds.

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