14 January 2011

Farm Sanctuary's media relations specialist provides insight into the organization

This year marks the 25th anniversary for Farm Sanctuary, the country’s leading farm animal protection organization operating the largest farm animal rescue and adoption network. Started in 1986 by president and co-founder Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary has given more than 8,000 farm animals a new beginning. They operate two shelters, a 175 acre farm in upstate New York and a 300 acre farm in northern California. Here animals are given care and love to help recover from a lifetime of abuse and neglect.

But the story does not stop there. Farm Sanctuary goes far beyond rescue and shelter for farm animals. They are a leading organization in the campaign to encourage legal and policy reform—working on anti-confinement legislation, downed animal regulations, and promoting the Veg For Life campaign.

I recently had a chance to speak with Meredith Turner, Media Relations Specialist for Farm Sanctuary.

What is your function at Farm Sanctuary?

As Farm Sanctuary’s Media Relations Specialist my job is to penetrate the mainstream media with messages of hope and compassion for farm animals. I believe that turkeys in USA TODAY, cows in PEOPLE Pets, Power Vegans in Businessweek, factory farming on Access Hollywood, and vegan NBA stars on HLN are how we’re going to win this.

Have there been times when Farm Sanctuary had to turn away animals away due to space?

When our shelters are full, we depend on compassionate people who want to make a direct difference for a suffering cow, pig, chicken or other farm animal. Farm Sanctuary operates the country’s largest farm animal rescue and adoption network. Since 1986, nearly 3,000 needy farm animals have been given a new beginning — thanks to people who care enough to join our FARM ANIMAL ADOPTION NETWORK (FAAN).

Gene Baur’s book is very inspirational, do you see awareness on the rise?

Absolutely. We are in the midst of a burgeoning food revolution and there is an encouraging new mainstream support for reforming the abusive and wasteful factory farming system. Thanks to public education campaigns, the internet’s ability to widely transmit undercover video documenting the abusive conditions inside factory farms, and popular books like Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals and movies like “Food Inc.,” consumer concern about the treatment of animals raised for food is at an all-time high.

Is there a special story or animal that you feel that didn't get enough attention?

Last August, we rescued a brave bull named Jay who escaped a fiery transport truck crash on an Indiana interstate. Despite being covered in excruciatingly painful burns, Jay was so determined to preserve his own life that he made a run for it and set authorities on a 12-hour chase before finally being captured and taken to a local animal shelter. Although Jay’s story was widely covered in the media, the atrocities of animal transport and the need for better laws to stop the abuses that lead to such tragedies is a sorely under reported topic that cannot be discussed enough. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Jay and the extraordinary courage he displayed.

What is 2011 looking like?

2011 marks the 25th anniversary of Farm Sanctuary, so in addition to our efforts to rescue more animals and tell their stories, urge more anti-confinement legislation and downed animal regulations, and update our VegForLife Campaign, we will be celebrating our history and looking to the future with a series of special anniversary-themed events across the country, including two star-studded 25th Anniversary Galas in New York and Los Angeles.

Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?

Farm animals are sensitive, intelligent, friendly beings. Just like cats and dogs, they are full of feeling and life and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. The horrific treatment they endure on factory farms all over the country is heartbreaking and not at all aligned with most Americans’ values of compassion. I urge anyone who is still consuming meat, dairy and eggs to visit farmsanctuary.org and learn about what animals must endure to produce these products, and then ask yourself “am I okay with that?” Without a doubt, consuming a plant-based vegan diet is the single best thing you can do for the animals, your health and the environment.

I wish to thank Meredith Turner for her time, and all of the incredible people at Farm Sanctuary for the
inspirational work they do.

John Himmelberger | @johnhimm
John lives in Maryland where he works as a sales manager. John and his wife Eileen’s pursuit to achieve optimum health combined with a desire to send a strong message to factory farming, inspired them to examine what they put into their bodies. Now a vegan, John has great admiration for groups like Farm Sanctuary and hopes to influence others by sharing his positive experiences. Follow John on his blog and Facebook.

Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary