Like most Americans, I was raised on the Standard American Diet consisting of meat, dairy, refined grains and lots of sugar. My family enjoyed whatever was cheap and convenient. This meant a lot of fast food. One day when I was in middle school I decided to stop eating meat. I’m not even sure how I got the idea. My childhood best friend was up for the challenge with me though. I went home and told my parents I wasn’t eating meat anymore. My friend wasn’t able to stick with vegetarianism, but for some reason I did. Eventually, I went off to college where I remained a vegetarian. About a year later I stumbled upon a PDF version of a book entitled Skinny Bitch. This book awakened me to the dairy industry. I learned that it didn’t make sense health wise to consume dairy since breast milk by design allows for the biggest growth spurt of a mother’s young. This is the case not only for us humans but for dairy cows as well. So when we as adult humans continue to consume the milk from cows, we don’t get taller just a lot fatter.
From this book I also learned about what happens in factory farms and slaughterhouses and decided that it didn’t make much sense morally to consume dairy or eggs anymore either. I learned that farmed animals aren’t outside roaming in big grass field but instead are kept in extremely small spaces inside warehouses where they often cannot even turn their bodies around. Chickens are mutilated in order to stop themselves from hurting one another. Meanwhile the confinement they are in mutilates their bodies. I learned that all the chickens and cows that were producing the dairy and eggs I was consuming were eventually slaughtered. The book also helped me to realize that there is no way to humanely slaughter a sentient being that doesn’t want to die. After finishing the book I knew I could never consume another animal product again, and just like that, I went vegan.
Next, I watched a film called Forks Over Knives which promotes not only a vegan diet but also a diet that focuses on whole plant based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. I learned that my food choices could go beyond protecting animals’ lives by also protecting my own life. I could prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and many forms of cancer; conditions I once thought would be normal to suffer from. Later on I watched another film called Cowspiracy. This film helped me realize just how impactful a vegan diet is on the health of our planet. It was at this point that I finally felt I had made the full connection – I was choosing to be vegan not only for my own health but the health of our planet and all that inhabit it.
Now, I have been vegan for 6 years and an animal rights activist for the past 9 months. Being an animal rights activist to me means that I use both my words and actions to work towards non-human animal liberation. I do this in a variety of ways with a variety of organizations as often as I can. This can vary from a Cube of Truth with Anonymous for the Voiceless, pay per view with Compassion Over Killing, disruptions with Direct Action Everywhere, bearing witness with The Save Movement or less organized actions such as commenting on a social media post or speaking to a stranger in the grocery store. I have found that much like veganism, activism is for everyone. I think at some point we have all seen or heard about violence happening in this world and hoped that someone would do something to stop it. If the violence to farmed animals is something you didn’t know about before, you know about it now. I believe that once we learn about the suffering of the non-human animals we share our home with it is not only our duty to stop contributing to their suffering but to aid in the pursuit of their freedom. Veganism is merely the first step. The next is to get active.
Future Farmers of America (FFA) is a program where young students raise an animal as part of an agricultural class. These students raise a young animal to “market weight” and then compete in showmanship and auction them off at fairs. Some students join the program because they dream of being farmers…but most are just kids who want to be close to an animal or want to pursue a veterinary career. These animals are almost always sold for meat at the end of the auction.
Lilac was raised by a young lady that had compassion and loved Lilac, despite being advised against it, she surrendered this little lamb to us! These animals are auctioned at 6-8 months for food, a sad ending for both the animal that learned to trust humans and the student that loved and cared for the animal.
The young lady that surrendered Lilac wanted her to live a full happy life at a Sanctuary and we were happy to take her in.
Lilac is one of the most outgoing animals at the farm, she loves attention, treats, and her bestie Alice the sheep. She plays with Sherman, crushes on Dream, and kisses the cows through the fence. She is absolutely Ms. Congeniality of the refuge and we are so lucky to have her.
Dream was actually bought as a “market lamb” (for meat) off the app Over Up. For those you technologically challenged like us it’s the millennial version of Craigslist.
A man thought he was cute and didn’t want him to be eaten and brought Dream home as a house pet. Dream lived in a suburban home with two Pomeranians until the man realized he could not keep a sheep as a house pet and reached out to Farm Sanctuary, who referred him to us!
Dream spends most days paling around with his bro Tucker and he is the sweetest little lamb you’ve ever met. He has a long fluffy tail (sheep have tails but they are typically cropped in the industry). He runs to greet our cars when we get home, is so gentle with Tucker (who is special needs) and he still loves to run into our house 🙂 I guess once a house sheep, always a house sheep! He loves his people and dog time, but is learning quickly to join the sheep and goat herd.
Author: Brianna Martelozzo
Tears filled my eyes as I scrolled passed pictures of dead dairy calves discarded in a dumpster—all for the sake of milk and cheese. I was finally allowing myself to acknowledge just how much they suffer, how many of their deaths are unaccounted. The world suddenly became a very dark place. It took me twenty five years to stop eating their flesh and nearly 26 years to witness their suffering through reading articles and watching videos. This is when I decided I would contribute to their suffering no more. I was horrified. You see, I had always been a huge advocate for the animals. Stray cats and dogs were attracted to us, my mother specifically. They’d find us everywhere we went. Gas stations, on the side of busy roads, in our neighborhood, and on our driveway. It’s like they knew they needed to find to find us. I would watch Animal Cops on Animal Planet obsessively with my best friend. We’d sit and plan how we were going to one day become cops ourselves, run a rescue, and put the animal abusers in jail. Then we’d go and eat the medium-rare steak my parents had prepared us for dinner.
I knew the animals that were raised and killed for food were suffering. I knew it. Sometimes I’d lay in bed and these images would flood my mind. I hadn’t any idea how they were actually killed or the conditions they were raised, but my imagination had no problem filling in the gaps. I’d fight so hard to keep these images out of my head. I allowed several “justifications” to push the images out of my mind until they existed no more. This is just how things were and there was nothing I could do about it.
Once I became Vegan, the animal rights activist inside of me re-activated. I felt compelled to do something. I didn’t have much of a community after the horrors of animal agriculture revealed itself to me, so I spent a lot of time studying these industries–trying to make sense of it all. I stumbled across The Save Movement (http://thesavemovement.org/) and Anonymous for the Voiceless (https://www.anonymousforthevoiceless.org/); videos of pigs on transport trucks broke me, but videos of people doing outreach replenished my broken heart. I joined group after group on facebook, trying to find my people. It didn’t seem like San Diego was too active. There were things going on, but nothing that really interested me. I wanted to participate in Anonymous for the Voiceless’ Cube of Truth, but couldn’t find anyone who had organized one yet.
My husband and I went to Brazil for a month to visit his family and when we got back, we hit the ground running. We visited our first animal sanctuary, went to our first cooking class at the library, and discovered in perfect timing the first meeting for San Diego’s Anonymous for the Voiceless chapter. Walking into that room, sitting amongst others who wanted to raise awareness for the animals filled my eyes with tears—I was completely moved. This is when I found my people. I didn’t realize at that point how involved I would get and how much I would grow in such a short amount of time. We started going to protest after protest, cube after cube, but it wasn’t until wear drove up to Los Angeles and bore witness with Los Angeles Animal Save that we solidified our involvement. Looking the victims in their eyes before they enter a slaughterhouse is something else. Once you see them seeing you, and then you watch them roll away beyond the slaughterhouse gate and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it—it changes you. It weakens you and strengthens you. You leave feeling broken, but with the empowerment to use your voice even louder for them. This is why I have been so committed to my evolvement in this movement and trying to encourage others to become more involved. If we don’t do something, who will?
Battery cage hen save. Names Jen, Yolanda, Henrietta, Pamela Ann, Gladys, Harper, Inga, DeDe, Penelope, Blanche, Merry.
Our ladies came to us after a quick message from another rescue. Hen Harbor is in northern CA and focuses on retired battery caged hens. They heard about us through a mutual friend and reached out asking if we had some room available for some recent rescues. Being that we had just finished our 3rd chicken coop it was the perfect time for us all. Their lives started out as many of the “egg laying” breeds do, they spent their first 2 years crammed in cages and exploited for their eggs. After their production reduced their normal fate would be slaughter but with the efforts of multiple rescues and some compassionate people their lives were saved.
Gerald, Sunny, and Ryan were the first three rescues at Farm Animal Refuge. These three roosters were relinquished to us by a family who ordered baby chicks through the mail. It is common for hatcheries to include baby roosters along with the female chicks either by mistake or to keep the female chicks warm during transport. Unfortunately, very few areas of San Diego County, CA are zoned for roosters. Thankfully, this family tried to rehome these three guys rather than have them destroyed, and they made their way to our rescue where they will live out their lives.
Tucker was our biggest surprise when it comes to our rescues. The people who had him before actually found us and hoped we could help. When he arrived we didn’t know, and still mostly don’t, anything about his past life. We ran all of the tests we could and everything came back clear. We immediately started a strict physical therapy routine utilizing all of the knowledge and tools we had accumulated for Chance. Tucker started showing signs of improvement and really started to enjoy his wheelchair. The hole while we were looking to see if there was any chance a home better fitted for his needs was out there. Knowing how much of a commitment taking on goat with mobility issues would be we decided the best thing for him was to continue his life here with us and he became an official FAR member.
Diamond and Harmony-(rescue No. 6 and 7) also known simply as “The Girls” were rescued October 28, 2016 , from a backyard butcher . They were both very sick upon arrival- underweight, and fighting pneumonia and mange. We nursed them back to health, and now they’re thriving and rambunctious.
It’s fairly rare in animal agriculture for farm animals to get to stay with their relatives or animal friends, so we are grateful to be able to keep these sisters together. They love to spend time with their pen-mate, Firecracker, whom they both love to play and hang with.
Despite being sisters, Diamond and Harmony have distinct and unique personalities- as do all pigs and sisters.
DIAMOND is the sweet and prissy sister. She loves to play in the water and give kisses! She licks our faces just like a dog. DIAMOND’s distinctive marking is the full spot on her nose, whereas Harmony has a half-spot on her nose.
HARMONY is the rough and tumble sister, who seems to always be getting herself into trouble. She’s got a bit of a tom-boy personality and loves playing in the mud. HARMONY’s distinctive marking is the half spot on her nose , whereas Diamond has a full spot on her nose.
Meet Rudy – The fourth rescue and first pot-belly pig. Rudy was rescued on September 3, 2016. He found his way to Farm Animal Refuge after landing in a high-kill shelter as a stray. He was found roaming the streets of Pomona, CA – an area that is not zoned for pot-belly pigs. We traveled to Pomona to pick up Rudy – a pig we were told was a 1.5 year old female, but turned out to be a 3-month old male who was not yet neutered.
Rudy’s first nights here consisted of sleeping in the house on the floor with his rescuers. Rudy adores his dog brothers and mimicked much of their behavior, which explains why he knows how to sit for treats! While Rudy pals around with the other pot-belly pigs, he was most connected to Chance. They shared lettuce , and many naps together.
While Rudy may think he’s a dog, he is very much a pot-belly pig, he is a very big boy, and still growing. Rudy would like to remind all his fans that pigs require special care and most cities have specific zoning restrictions against them.
Nellie was found by a good samaritan in the mountains of San bernandino, CA. It appeared she had been dumped there along with her little house, the only shred of her past life she was left with. That man brought Nellie to his home and held her until a permanent home was found here with us. We first heard about Nellie from social media page dedicated to potbellys that need homes. As her story touched us so much we watched and waited hoping she would find her forever home. It appeared she had once been a loved pet and we wanted her to have the chance at that again, a home with only a few pigs and some dedicated loving owners. Her post kept appearing and after a couple weeks we knew she belonged here. Nellie is the perfect combination of sass and affection. She will immediately roll over for a belly rub but tell you when she is done. Her favorite thing is to do is find a quiet shaded area and to nap the afternoon away.
Thor is a very special pot-belly pig at Farm Animal Refuge, the fifth addition, who was rescued on September 22, 2016. Thor was thought to be a “mini-pig” , but actually grew to be a full-size pot belly. Thor is a walking, snorting myth buster, proving once again that “mini-pig” is a mythical label attributed to pigs who are actually deprived of nutrients to stunt their growth. Thor’s family relinquished him to Farm Animal Refuge due to his size.
Thor is a very sensitive pig, earning him much admiration from the volunteers and visitors at Farm Animal Refuge who can see through his tough exterior. Thor is very opinionated and definitely has a mind of his own. While Thor also knows how to sit for treats, he does so only on his own terms. He is the gentlest while taking treats and is always making it very clear that he wants a belly rub.
Grace was Rescue No. 9 for us here at Farm Animal Refuge, joining the rescue ranks on March 4, 2017, at only three months old. Grace was born as a dairy cow, but a hernia kept her out of the dairy industry. She was sold to a backyard butcher as a waste product. Luckily, she found her way to us. When she arrived, Grace was very sick. In addition to the hernia, she was underweight with bones showing at only 106 lbs when she should have been twice that, and she was fighting pneumonia.
Our crew had to keep Grace’s stomach wrapped to encourage the hernia to fall back into her abdomen. She enjoyed lots of alfalfa and boundless love to help her with her recovery. Maybe the most supportive force in her complete recovery was her friendship with Firecracker.
Grace now spends her time with her boyfriend India, the black angus steer, and the twins. ( Alfie and Mila). They love to graze in the open field together, play, and never leave each other’s sides- especially when they plot their troublemaking like opening the gate for a stroll to the farm house. India has adored Grace since they first met , and not surprisingly all of our visitors love her too!
Grace is a BIG girl now! She’s expected to be around 2000 lbs. when she is fully grown.
Alice is the first sheep at Farm Animal Refuge, and rescue No. 11. She joined us on June 17, 2017, just as the Future Farmers of America (FFA) season came to an end. Alice’s owner didn’t want to see Alice meet the same fate as the other FFA animals and was surrendered.. One of Alice’s happiest days was when she took her freedom ride in the backseat of our SUV out to Farm Animal Refuge in Campo, CA.
Alice strides to the beat of her own drum. She is full of personality and loves to greet visitors. If she is especially excited, she jumps in the air! She shares her days and nights with our rescue , Jake . They have formed an incredibly strong bond together . It is a truly special friendship .
Rescue No. 8
Firecracker lives up to his name! This spitfire was rescued by Farm Animal Refuge on November 27, 2016. He was being raised at a “sustainability camp” as food , but the girls that were tasked with his care were vegans! The teens petitioned for their camp to spare the pigs, and the camp agreed to release Firecracker to a rescue. Being a farm hog, Firecracker was tougher to place than a pot-belly, but thankfully we are zoned for hogs.
Firecracker spends his day with “The Girls”- Diamond and Harmony- but cherishes his friendship with Grace, the dairy calf. He brought her so much comfort upon her arrival and really helped our shy girl come out of her shell.
As far as personalities come, Firecracker has a big one! His favorite snack is pumpkin. He loves knocking over the poop cart, playing in the mud, and taking baths. One of his favorite possessions is a blanket; he thinks they are great for sleeping, ripping up, and playing tug-o-war! He is a social butterfly here at Farm Animal Refuge and is loved by all of his animal friends.
Rescue No. 16 and No. 17
These two came to us September 30, 2017 with Mama India . They are also known as “ the twins”. They are the younger siblings of India (steer). Both of the twins had been separated from Mama India and were about to be sold to the FFA , just like brother India. Luckily, they were rescued and came with Mama to their permanent home to live out their lives as a family.
Although they are twin Black Angus calves, they are very different. Alfie and Mila have unique personalities.
MILA is more reserved and a little shy with people. She watches from the back while the others come forward. She used to spend a lot of time close to Mama. She slowly came out of her shell and hangs out with the big kids (Grace and India). She loves to be brushed and loves to rub her head on our legs. Mila has more brown in her coat than any of the India’s and very long eye lashes like her big brother.
ALFIE , also known as “little India”, is bold, out- going and very goofy! He is strong , independent, and so silly . He is usually the first of the cows to step forward from the herd. Alfie is curious and interested in anything going on. He loves the cow brush like brother India. They both have the same walk and actions. Alfie is still smaller than his big brother , but growing fast. He has a distinctive brow, and looks very similar to his big brother but with a thicker coat.
Rescue No . 15 – Check out India’s bio! We were informed about a darling calf India not too long after we started the rescue. He was a black angus steer in the FFA program and was saved from slaughter. The first time we met the student tasked with his care, she told us he was named India after his mother. We built a barn for India and waited months to get him home. He stole our hearts from day one.
Flash forward one year… We were talking about India and how sad it was that he didn’t have his mom. We were unable to get any cooperation from students in the program to find her. All we knew was that her name was also India. With some (lots) of Facebook stalking and cold calling… WE FOUND HER!
Upon contact with the ranch, we learned that she was kept with a bull for several months prior to our call. While we were trying to figure out if she was pregnant, we asked when she had her last calf. She had given birth five months prior to our call. She had actually given birth to twins! The twins had already been separated from Mama and were set to be sold to FFA students the following weekend. Luckily, the rancher was very sympathetic to our cause. (Or maybe was just annoyed with all the many photos we sent of our India in a flower crown) . Either way, we were able to take ALL THREE THAT WEEKEND! Mama’s liberation date, and rescue date was September 30, 2017. Taking in three cows (actually four, Mama was pregnant) was a huge task for us , but India deserves the whole world. The least we could do was give him his family. Upon arrival , Mama and India instantly recognized each other after being separated for over a year. The family bond was apparent and very strong. We all watched teary-eyed as they ran to each other at the gate.
We now have Mama India, India(steer) , Mila , and Alfie. On March 29, 2018 , we welcomed our 5th India… Baby Rose.
Mama India is eight years old. She has been pregnant seven times. She has miscarried once and had eight babies. At the time we took her home seven babies had been taken from her. We were able to give her three back, and her last (Baby Rose) will never leave her . She was born free. Mama India is big, beautiful and strong. She loves brushes and she LOVES her babies. She is a great mom to Baby Rose, Mila, Alfie, India and daughter-in-law, Gracie.
Rose’s actual rescue date was September 30, 2017 with Mama India and the twins, Alfie and Mila. We did not know for sure at the time if Mama was pregnant. She is India’s littlest sister and Mama India’s last baby!
Rose is unique to the rescue because she was actually born here and most importantly born free. She has no insecurities or trust issues to overcome like most rescues. Rose knows humans as friends and playmates. She has absolutely no fear at all. Rose spends her time with her mama in the pasture. She loves to run and head-butt.
Sherman was rescue No. 19. He was rescued on February 28, 2018 when he was just hours old. Sherman was not able to latch on to nurse and wouldn’t have made it through the night on an empty belly outside. He was surrendered by the same farmer that gave us Chance.
Sherman required bottle feedings and lots of love from us. He was a great friend to Chance and they spent most of their days and nights together.
This little guy is so full of spunk and personality. He loves to play with the dogs and the pot-belly pigs. He hasn’t quite realized that he is a goat . He makes everyone smile! Sherman still sleeps in the house, but one day he will be a great buddy for Jake.
It is hard to imagine the refuge without its largest puppy-dog, India!
Rescue No. 12, was our second rescue from the Future Farmers of America (FFA) program. India has a beautiful black coat and the kindest eyes on the farm. He is also our most grateful resident.
India is a big growing boy! This black angus handsome guy is super playful, gentle, and sweet. India adores his pen-mate , Grace the dairy calf/cow. They love to graze together, seek out trouble (like opening their pen gate!) and love to be with each other. He is a great big brother to his twins siblings, Mila and Alfie, loving son to Mama India, and sometimes kisses littlest sister ,Rose through the fence.
Jake is lucky rescue No. 13 for Farm Animal Refuge. He was rescued on July 21,2017. Jake is the third rescue from the Future Farmers of America(FFA) program. He is a very happy and spunky boy who has completely come out of his shell since his arrival. The typical age of slaughter for goats is six months of age. We are so happy that Jake will be able to live his life here and enjoy it. Jake has a lot of life and love yet to give.
Jake loves his pen-mate, Alice the sheep. They causing trouble together, playfully head-butting and plotting ways to sneak out. This little guy has a BIG personality. His favorite snack is romaine lettuce. Jake loves being brushed, loves pats and butt-scratches , just like a dog!
Jerome is the 14th rescue at Farm Animal Refuge. If you’ve read Rudy’s story, this will sound very familiar. Jerome was found in Pomona. He was brought to the same high kill dog shelter where we picked up Rudy. Here’s where it gets interesting… He was found in an area not zoned for pigs. Our vet confirmed our suspicion that Jerome is the same age as Rudy, and you cannot deny the resemblance! We think there is high chance we found Rudy’s long lost brother!
Jerome had a bit of a rough start here; he came to us with Giardia and had back to back infections. He made a full recovery and grew into quite a big boy. He loves to follow people around wagging his tail, but doesn’t always like to be pet . Jerome is the alpha of the pot-belly pigs so far.
Willie was rescued on January 7, 2018 , as rescue No. 18. We received an urgent call to pick up an injured piglet that was injured. This was a difficult task, and extremely challenging. He was deep in about an acre of brush. After hours of patience, some cuts and bruises, we got him. He had severe , life threatening injuries. It appeared that he had been severely attacked by a dog or coyote. Willie had extensive tissue damage, that had become necrotic. We did round the clock treatments: wound flushing, antibiotics, and close monitoring.
Willie was originally supposed to be a pick up and transport to another rescue . His wounds were so extensive that we kept him to get him stabilized. The other pot-belly pigs at Farm Animal Refuge used to lay outside his quarantine area and talk to him. We started to develop so much love for this little fighter that we knew…. He would have his forever home here.
Willie is a very friendly pig. Despite his very traumatic beginning, Willie is a very happy pig. He runs to greet everyone wagging his little tail. He is still very small, but growing quickly. He is white like Rudy and Jerome but about half the size. He loves belly rubs, food, and bathing in his pool. Even though he is the smallest pig, he is next in line as boss, right behind Jerome.