I have loved animals my whole life. My earliest memories are moments of joy with animals. The dogs I grew up with in my family were always my best friends and I always felt such a duty and commitment to making sure they were happy, cared for and loved… And from there, I always felt the same duty of care to all animals.
I have worked with and for animals forever. From the age of 7, I declared myself vegetarian after learning of the abhorrent treatment of animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses. I would spend time writing letters of protest to companies and institutions profiting from the exploitation and abuse of animals; and I would hold bake sales and do sponsored events to raise much needed funds to send to my favourite animal charities. So working with and for animals is all I have ever known.
Lola and Splodge in 1987. “My first defined memories of feeling a love for and connection towards animals began with the dogs I grew up with. My family adopted ‘Splodge’ from a local shelter when I was four and I knew from that moment I had a duty to look after her and to protect her.”
My 9 year old daughter once asked me why I do what I do when it makes me so sad. I always think, “it was never a choice”. It is something I feel so compelled to do that just when I think I can’t do it anymore because it hurts so much – too much-, I always dig a little deeper and find that extra bit of strength to keep fighting. After all, there is too much at stake. Animals’ whole lives are reliant on us and what we do… And if we don’t do it, how can we assume anyone else will? It is too easy to put too many problems on the shoulders of too few. If each and everyone of us takes responsibility to make sure we leave the world in a better state than how we found it, we truly can make change.
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie
I am a big believer in that you should be the change you want to see in the world. You should think about the world you would live in if everyone acted like you. Would it be a kind and compassionate world?
Witnessing animals suffering at the hands of Man never gets any easier or less shameful. But turning a blind eye will not change anything…
People often ask me how I do the job I do. How do I bear witness to so much suffering? The answer is that I do it with an aching heart and fighting back tears. It never gets any easier, but at the same time I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because the sadness, frustration, shame and anger I feel is what fuels my determination to fight on every day. And the pain I feel is a reflection of the love and compassion I feel for animals. I no longer apologise for crying, because each and every animal that suffers deserves to be seen and loved…
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” Viktor Frankl
I sometimes look back through the boxes of letters I wrote as a child - diligently saving copies and marking when I had to send follow ups – and I realise we are still tackling too many of the same problems, from protesting to airlines for transporting macaques to supply laboratories, to the production of foie gras. And whilst it may be seem sad and frustrating to think that we are still tackling some of the same issues 26 years later, what we must remember is that we can’t always measure the impact of our actions. Every time we stand up for what is right- not necessarily what is easy- we are making change and feeding an ever-growing momentum. We will never know where we would we be if there weren’t people like us standing up for animals every day, fighting the injustices simply because animals matter.
And we should never underestimate the victories we have fought so hard for. We are changing hearts, minds, policies and paths for future generations.
Thanks to local groups and inspiring individuals, the animal rights movement is growing rapidly around the world in increasing in strength and numbers each year. We are becoming an army fuelled with passion, compassion and a burning desire to end cruelty to all animals. Because wrong is wrong regardless of time, country or culture.
You have my word that we will continue no matter how difficult it gets, and no matter how impossible or distant those victories might feel, because, despite all the horrors I have played witness to and mourned, I still believe in humanity and that love and compassion will triumph inhumanity and cruelty.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love, have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it always.” Mahatma Gandhi
Living with Change For Animals Foundation’s very special ambassador, Django, who was recued form the dog meat trade, and my other rescued dogs is a constant source of joy and motivation to never give up… Because every life is worth fighting for…