Joshua

Joshua AKA Joshy Poshy was raised by our amazing rescue friend Hannah Shaw. You can check out the great work she does by visiting the Orphan Kitten Club website.

He was abandoned in a park and was the only survivor of his litter. Hannah raised him into a happy healthy boy. Josh is sweet, out going, and has a big personality to match how big he will grow!

Joshua is a Kune Kune mix and will be about over 200lbs when he grows up!

There is no such thing as a “mini pig” but we will love him just the same when he is a big boy!

Harley

This photo was taken right before we picked Harley up to bring him to the refuge! In the photo is Harley’s human, Gina.

Hes such a good boy already. We often rescue animals from neglect and abuse. It’s not often we get a call from someone like Gina.

Harley’s human has serious health issues and can no longer care for Harley, but we are so happy to give him a home!

Brian and Liam

Brian and Liam were surrendered by a local goat dairy farmer.

Did you know that a goat has to have a baby to produce goat milk? The boys are actually a byproduct of the industry because they will never make milk. These young boys are usually sold for slaughter.

But the farmer showed compassion and gave these twins to us instead.

Abigail and Rashida

Abigail and Rashida were confiscated by animal control and were our first adoption through Farm Sanctuary.

Before Farm Sanctuary stepped in, they were at a sheep dairy. Feta and Ricotta are just two examples of mainstream sheep dairy products?

These two were bred and milked their whole lives, even when they were starved. They lost wool, lived amongst 50-60 fallen friends, and had a body score of 1 which is extremely malnourished and neglected?

Their situation is COMMON. Dairy is a brutal industry that not only separates families. But also exploits women. Did you know that sheep only produce milk to feed their babies? Babies are taken from the mothers so humans can use the breast milk for themselves.

Dairy is scary and we are so thankful to give these girls the forever they deserve.

We are also thankful for Farm Sanctuary for allowing us to adopt them. They literally wrote the book on animal care, and are such a strong resource and example for new rescues like us.

Charolette

This little angel was all the way in Mississippi and needed a home and a herd that would fit her needs. She was being raised at a goat meat farm and lost her leg due to an accident with a horse. When no rescues locally were found, it was so obvious that would should take her in!

Tucker is still a little weak in the back legs and needed a friend that was the same speed.

The day after we saw she was still not placed, we flew Matt to Mississippi and sent a mobile vet to check on her. She was cleared for transport, and Matt picked her up around 3am the next day!

Charolette and Tucker are our little special needs herd, and they co-parent incoming babies.

Darla

This little lady was such a great addition to our family! We love her!

She was confiscated due to neglect and landed in a high kill shelter with her babies. The babies all passed away at the shelter and Mama Darla was in danger of euthanasia.

She doesn’t deserve that. We aren’t sure what happened to her in her old life, what happened to her ears, or her babies. But what we do know is…. FROM NOW ON, she will know nothing but the love and respect she deserves.

The pig who changed my life

Author: Shelby Madere @Piggypoo_and_crew

This July 2019, marks the 7th year anniversary of adopting my piggy. My Chowder, a 230lb “minipig”.

I would be so delighted to go into all the revelation of love this pig has given me but I guess that would make this a long story rather than a blog!

When I sought out to adopt a pig I had heard of micropigs, teacup pigs. I never thought that a pig could be small. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on about them in order to prepare myself for piggy motherhood!

I found that so called micro pigs where actually pigs who’s bodies were bred continually to stay small, yet their internal organs continue to grow in which at approximately 5 years old they die an agonizing death. I read that “tea-cup” pigs are actually baby pigs and about how many of these pigs are purchased, continue to grow (pigs grow until they’re 4 years old) and once they’ve outgrown their persons expectations are abandoned.

I’d made the decision that even if the pig I was planning to adopt turned out to be as large as what are referred to as a “farm pig” I’d find a way to accommodate him or her and do everything in my power to give them a fulfilled life.

When I found Chowder, then, named Porkchop and thought to be a minipig, he was about 4 months old and was already being rehomed. I was ready to give him every good thing!

I was ready to teach him, to love him, to show him patience and understanding, and to strive for more so that I could give him more.

I’ve often said on my instagram posts, I am forever in this little pigs debt for all the amazing things he has taught me and for the revelation of love, and depths of it! The compassion, the selflessness, and true hope and devotion that he has taught me. He was the one who taught me what kind of human I wanted to be.

He also made me conscience of what I was eating. He stood in the kitchen with me one day…staring up at me in a sitting position with his beautiful Dr Pepper colored eyes and his toothy grin as he asked for a treat. He was just over one year old. I decided that I would never consume meat again.

Pigs understand love, dislike, and even forgiveness. That’s tremendous! Seeing Chowder enjoy his days was amazing…he wanted to be challenged, to learn, to be busy, to bask in the sun and to be fed on time.

Sure, he was selfish, he was demanding, and he was moody at times… but I loved everything about him!

I decided in a moment that I’d never have anything to do with taking that right from any living thing like Chowder. The outpouring of love and devotion I have towards him and all of my animals makes life worth living, and I am so thankful that I have been blessed to be taught true love through the love of animals.

Blogger Bio: Shelby Madere

Meet Shelby Madere! Shelby is Mom to one of our favorite pigs of all time Chowder! Check out her story about one pig who changed her life and a whole lot of others! After adopting her pig, Shelby became a huge voice for potbellied pigs, veganism, and has helped to network animals into Sanctuaries all over California! She has now even bought a large plot and brought in two donkeys and a second pig. Her space with hopefully home many more over the years! Shelby is responsible for networking quite a few animals to our sanctuary including our first piggy, Rudy.

Instagram link: @Piggypoo_and_crew

Vegan Blog – PlantLiving Strong

Author: Suzanne Sisomphone

Hi, my name is Suzanne and I’m going to share a story with you about how and why I went vegan. First, let me start off by saying that I was raised to believe that meat had to be part of almost every meal and/or dish. So,majority of my life I was eating meat. I remember the first time seeing a cow being slaughtered in front of me when I was a kid. I had originally thought my family was taking me and my siblings to enjoy a nice day at the farm.Unfortunately, it was a backyard slaughter house. It was a very cruel image, but at that time I didn’t understand what I was witnessing because I didn’t see any kind of sad emotions on the faces of my family members; it was a normal practice for them. Once I entered my early 30’s, I started to experience health problems such as depression, I was overweight, I started noticing skin issues, I was diagnosed as prediabetic and in all reality I was just living a poor unhealthy lifestyle. The doctor insisted I make a change or else things would continue to worsen. So, I decided to make a change and although it took some time,I knew I was headed in the right direction. I joined the gym, dedicated my time to health & fitness, quit smoking cigarettes, prepped & cooked all my vegan meals remaining focused on my plant based/vegan journey that eventually just became a lifestyle. Truth! I first started because of my health and in time, I learned more and more by reading, researching and watching Youtube videos.

During my diet I was already feeling disgusted with how meat and poultry tasted. Majority of the time I ate fruits and vegetables. Beef, chicken, and pork just didn’t taste the same or right to me anymore. Each bite I took, left me feeling unhappy and miserable. After switching to a plant-based lifestyle I noticed I was dropping tons of weight, but I was experiencing nutrient deficiency. I would feel tired, weak, hungry, and moody so I decided to educate myself by learning more about natural proteins, and what to eat so I can properly transition safely into a vegan lifestyle. I started to dig deeper into my research, watched food documentaries such as “Cowspiracy” & “Sustainable”. I read into a variety of different stories about the benefits of going vegan and started following the vegan community so that I could be more involved and educated. That’s when I learned about Farm Animal Refuge, but I’ll get into that later. From there, I decided to make a difference, not only for my health, but for the environment and animals. I don’t advocate, but I do share information and try to inspire others with compassion.

2016 is when I decided to go full vegan. Becoming vegan was now part of my fitness journey. Tell you the truth I didn’t struggle too much transitioning because it was something I wanted to do. It was the right thing to do! 2 years later and I am still vegan. Before I was vegan, I weighed a little over 200lbs. After my transition, I lost about 70 lbs. and I feel great with so much energy! I feel alive! I feel healthy! I feel woke! I feel strong! I also feel like I didn’t make this change for myself, but it was that feeling of saving animals and helping to protect the planet. I’m an animal lover and a nature girl. I spend a lot of my time outdoors being grounded with nature so It’s important to me that I help voice the issues of the environmental impact on animal agriculture, and teach others about the truth behind farm factories. As I mentioned before, with compassion.

Overall, being vegan has been amazing. In the beginning, I wanted to be more involved, so after observing Farm Animal Refuge on social media and their website for a few months I realized they were just an hour away from San Diego, and I needed to visit. I never knew about sanctuaries, but after learning more about them and what they do I had to experience it for myself. Being at the farm is a blessing! The interaction with the animals was very therapeutic for me, and I’m sure for the animals too. Spending time with them teaches you about understanding, being calm, how to be gentle, patience, and love.

Thank you to Farm Animal Refuge for continuing to educate the community and also giving me the opportunity to experience the farm life and for allowing me to share my story with the vegan community. I’ll continue to share my journey down the line.

You can also checkout my vegan cooking page @ohveganway for creative vegan cooking ideas.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,

Suzanne Sisomphone

Sherman’s Rescue

The morning of Shermans rescue started with our normal weekday routine. Jordan was off to work early and I had just finished doing breakfast for the animals and morning chores.

I had just down with Chance on the couch to get a couple more hours of sleep. I was just falling back asleep for a nap before work, when our roommate (home sick at the time) woke me up with a phone call from Jordan.

Immediately, I knew something was up as she knows my routine and would never wake me up unless she had too. She was calling me because a she had just gotten off the phone with the very same farm Chance came from.

This is a small backyard goat farm. And they had a newborn baby rejected by its mother that morning. They offered to let us come take him.

Immediately saying yes to an animal is something that is very rare for us. We always try to rescue responsibly and that usually involves a lengthly conversation with me, Jordan, and a bottle of wine… but this call was different and we both knew why.

Twice already that very same farm had called us about 2 other newborns in the last 6 weeks that had been rejected. Both times we had scrambled to get ready to make the 2 1/2 hour drive to the top of a mountain to get the babies and both times the calls came too late. The babies passed before we could even drive off our property.

We were not able to save those first two babies, but this baby was just born and we were gonna do everything we could to get there in time. The first babies were girls, farmers are usually less likely to give them up early. They are more profitable.

Having made this drive before to get Chance, I had some idea of what i might need to bring. So, I hopped up, hurried to the kitchen to sanitize bottles, prep formula, boil water, grab the first aid kit, blankets, towels, and everything I might need.

I think of nothing for myself, and I leave in the same clothes I had worn to work the night before ( shorts and a tshirt). The night before, San Diego had a huge storm throughout the entire county.

I knew the weather might delay me a little bit, but man was I really wrong. I drove down the mountain Farm Animal Refuge sits on and headed to Sherman… at the top of another mountain across town. This drive would normally be around 2 1/2 hours. So I assumed I would make it home in plenty of time to finish the afternnon chores and get ready for work.

My first sign that might not happen came when I was turned around going up the first mountain because the roads had been closed to all cars without chains. No problem… growing up in San Diego, I knew there was a similar route at a lower elevation, so I turned around and headed down the mountain to get to that road. I make it to the first little town on that road and find out it is the same story. My Honda Civic and I weren’t permitted on the road.

OK option 3, the scenic route, I start heading that way. I get a call from Jordan again. My heart immedately sank. When I answer, she says that the farmer called again and wondered how far I was. I had know idea… it could be another two hours. And now I’m nervous.

I hurried to the base of the mountain and started my way up the windy road. I could see as I was coming up that most of the mountain didnt have snow except for the top so I figured I was in the clear. Ascending, I was watching my GPS go in and out of signal. It said only a few miles up this road, so I knew it couldn’t be much further.

I drive up this road with a few cars in front of me. I start to see patches of white on the ground. Those patches become larger and larger until all i can see is snow covering everything.

The roads were still clear and GPS still said only a few miles. So I just let myself start enjoying the perfectly white snow covering these ancient pine trees. Then I realize, the road is taking me up elevation quickly. Now, not only is the snow on the ground getting thicker, but it starts to lighlty snow again.

I still have over a mile to the house and the road is getting worse and worse. It’s worried. Then I see the turnoff to the road that leads to the farm.

Boom. Right in the middle of the street is a big sign that says “Road Closed Resident Only”. I sit at the bottom of the road looking at the map on my screen. I am so close! There is no way I am leaving without this baby, so i slowly start making my way up the road.

The closer I got the the house the icier the road was getting. I was far from anywhere with a signal to call the farmer. After repeated attempts of trying to call, I decided the only way to get to the farm was to walk up the road and bring the baby down to my car.

I didn’t think it was a very good plan, but i was not leaving without him. Off into the snow I headed. I can’t imagine what the farmer must have thought seeing me walk up in shorts, a thin hoodie, and tennis shoes but that didn’t occur to me until later.

I was greeted outside and taken to their laundry room where they had put him. I heard his cries from far and it was the best noise…. he was still alive!

I quickly scooped him up, got some basic info, said thank you for calling, put him inside my jacket and started my way back to the car and that bottle of formula I had been keeping warm in my defrosters the whole drive.

Sherman was born very early that morning and was found when the farmer fed the animals breakfast. We knew he was around 8 hours old, but we didnt know if he had eaten anything before he was found.

Getting something into his stomach was the number one priority we got in the car and headed down the mountain. Once the snow started to lighten up, I found a safe place to pull over and gave sherman his first meal.

You may have seen adorable videos of goats drinking bottles. But when you are shoving this plastic contraption in a newborns face for the first time, it doesnt not always go smoothly.

Especially on the side of a mountain in your car. After being covered in formula that has now mixed with what you can expect to be on a newborn that was never cleaned, Sherman ate. Pulling over every few minutes to try get feed him more while also trying to contain a very active baby goat in a moving car, proved messy and adorable.

I thought I was very well prepared since I had previously done the same trip getting Chance. But Sherman sure liked to bounce around and cause trouble, even on day one.

I was eventually able to get him to eat more, calm down, and almost fall asleep.

Then I finally looked at myself. I would never make it back home to shower before work. The goat milk and placenta mixture that was covering me and my clothes would probably not be appropriate when working in a restaurant. So Jordan came to my rescue meeting me at her parents house in town with a brand new pair of clothes and to take our new baby home to give him his first big meal and tuck him in for the night.

I will never forget this day and think about it often as one of my favorite days i have i lived so far.

Hope

Meet Hope. Hope was rescued from a situation here in San Diego. 24 pigs in total were removed from a local feed store. They were housed in kennels, fed dog food, and not given access to mud, sunshine, pig friends, and all the things piggies love most. This rescue wasn’t easy. Our friends at Saving Animals and Healing Hearts and our friend and website Guru, Ray Gross, worked for months behind the scenes to ensure there was no piggy left behind and eventually the family agreed to surrender all of the pigs. Hope being one of them.

Mocha

Mocha came from the same farm as Sherman and Chance! Almost two years ago, we received a call and I can remember it like yesterday. A farmers daughter in law asked if we could take in a baby goat, Chance. We happily did and loved him so much. We gave them our phone number and let the farmer know to call us if they ever had a sick baby or unwanted goat that they would surrender to us. And a year later Matt left with little baby Sherman in his arms. Here’s the exciting story about Mocha! Mocha was raised by the daughter in law, she is an animal lover and helped Mocha when he was just a baby. Mocha lived at the farm and he was the buck they used for breeding. Annnnd he is Sherman’s Dad! The farmer is getting out of goat farming and the daughter in law, Makayla, let us know Mocha was looking for a home and obviously we couldn’t resist another Sherman on the farm!

Dina’s Story

Author: Dina Lara

I was pretty much a vegetarian until I found processed meats as a kid, the texture in my mind was always weird, seeing all the slabs of meat that my Tata would bring home from work always grossed me out, and having had one too many tacos in Mexicali was the nail in the coffin for me to not want meat.

I still don’t know how I got this deep. One day I’m sitting with Matt on the porch trying to understand how if eventually Firecracker will be too big to live a happy life, it’s not ok for me (a cook/chef that has chosen to not know anything about “commodity meat”) to show my appreciation for the life he lived and make food with him. After a few hours of trying to get me to understand that Firecracker would be tough so it would be pointless, we agreed to disagree, Matt I’m sure knowing eventually I will see what he was trying to explain to me.

How I got in the hole I did. Between stressful jobs, alcohol, and very poor knowledge of a well balanced diet, it was a hole that was already dug for me as a kid I just kept finding ways to make it a deeper hole. At some point I had become so overwhelmed there was no hopes of getting out. I started to watch “What the Health” and the opening scared the shit out of me. I was clearly in his shoes, my risk of cancer and diabetes is so high I refused to watch past his family history. Finally, I had spent a night up until 5 a.m. with such bad anxiety my brothers friend, a nurse in the navy, had to come check me because I was sure I was having a heart attack and my brother was sure I wasn’t. Tired and not really knowing what was going on with me I tried to call in sick. Instead I ended up at work putting in about 34+ hours in 3 days before having one day off. With no hope to recover I caved. I went in and offered a two month notice September being my last work month. I immediately started a diet at a surprising 267 pounds, alcohol was the first thing I dropped. After being sober for two months I dropped 15 lbs. I still had anxiety and wasn’t sure what was really causing it. January had come and I was down to 247 to start the new year, and I started it sick with food poisoning. I had eaten chicken that had made me so sick it grossed me out of eating meat again. So I started 2018 sure that vegetarian was the way to go. It was the best thing I had done for myself, I felt not as foggy and very clear of my goals and what I wanted.

In May we took a trip to Switzerland, my first time overseas and since I had gotten anxiety, my first time having to sit in a tight spot for 9 hours. At the Colorado airport mentally preparing myself for the nightmare I was about to endure we stepped into a bookstore. Not having read a book in years, I was just there to keep my girlfriend company and read titles to see what was out there. One title stood out to me and the cover was so catchy, it was a silhouette of an upside down cow, it was called “Meat is for Pussies” I was sold. I got the book and read the shit out of it I completely forgot I was sitting for 9 hours. Constantly stopping and telling Natalie this is seriously what I’ve been thinking. We landed, I was halfway done with the book and ready to change my eating habits when I got home. As I talked to my buddy about the book he started talking to me about the food in Switzerland, everything was expensive but none of it had GMOs, everything was a lot better. Half of the processed shit available to us is not available there. With the understanding that most of my meals were going to be vegetarian, I am a cook and I want to try everything (how can you not have pizza on your mind knowing you were going to be in Italy?) We wandered down to the market and I was in heaven. The vegetarian/vegan isle was so well stocked I knew I was going to eat good. The two weeks were coming to an end and I was not ready to leave but I was ready to finish the book and start the vegan lifestyle.

And we’re back so I went vegan and was trying to stick to whole plant based foods. Back I went to the farm to try and help more often. With time watching all the animals react to Matt and Jordan, and my new belief the book had brought to me. It was right I could never look and animal in its eyes and kill it, I would never be able to “break an animal down” and looking at Firecracker if he and I were in a cage fighting to death so I can eat him, he’s going to win. With all that in mind why would I even consider eating meat. Then I sub merged I watched documentary after documentary. Listening to anything Matt and Jordan recommended and making a point to watch it. I felt good I was empowered and I was dropping weight, I was down another 47 pounds from May to October.

I still have some way to go but I’ve been exploring my new found veganism. Currently proving that although I’m not eating meat I can make anything people look for without meat. Constantly challenging my friends and family. Tricking them into eating food that I have made. I was in their shoes, I was blinded by meat, and had people constantly pushing me to see that my diet was wrong and the facts behind what I ate. That’s why I feel obligated to help them see it’s not for me, it’s not for the animals, it’s for themselves and their kids that they have to change. Diseases really aren’t as hereditary as diets.

Blogger Bio: Dina Lara

Dina had spent her entire adult life working around food. From prisons to colleges to restaurants she had dedicated her life to providing food and comfort for other people. First switching to plant based for health reasons she quickly learned the horrors of animals agriculture and has never looked back. She now spends her time making cruelty free versions of your favorite foods.

Melanie Langston-Bazzell’s Story

Author: Melanie Langston-Bazzell

Hi everyone! My name is Melanie Langston-Bazzell, and I am a regular volunteer at Farm Animal Refuge . My days volunteering at the farm are invaluable moments of magic!

Some days I like cuddling with Willie the potbellied pig. Other days I cuddle with baby turkeys, who come from less fortunate circumstances, but have learned to love and forgive.

In fact, I feel a connection to each rescued animal, in ways others might not understand.

I myself was rescued. I too once had no voice, and even though it is difficult for me to imagine the terrible torture that many of these animals have endured, I can relate to what it feels like to be voiceless, helpless, and afraid.

You see, animals share the same emotions as human beings. Please allow me to share my journey with you.

Due to my own suffering, the veil over my eyes was lifted and I saw the most gentle, loving, creatures on this planet being terrorized.

When I was 12 , a PETA volunteer reached out and offered me literature. It shaped the rest of my life. I was a pre-teen mall rat, and my eyes were opened to atrocious that shocked and saddened my soul. I knew I had to reconsider my choices.

Wielding my own literature, with homemade, hand sewn farm animals (used for visual demonstrations) , I begin approaching anyone who would listen. I feel this is important to mention, as one conversation can change the direction of someone’s life, as it changed mine.

Fast forward roughly two decades….In 2011, I sustained a life-threatening traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.

I was suffering and others were making poor choices for me. I could not advocate for myself, as my ability to communicate was diminished.

I re-learned how to walk, talk, write, read….become a human being. With a blank brain, I knew I had to re-build my mind carefully, and use my new chance at life to help others.

I began using my newly found art skills to create animal portraits for sanctuaries to auction off for donation.
It was my way of giving back. This brought me great joy as I was living as a hermit due to my serious sensory processing injuries.

I also began rescuing and rehabilitating chickens. I was unable to interact with humans, however I found a profound connection with chickens Our backyard became my new home. I was a feral person connecting with nature in ways others can’t imagine.

I literally became a member of the flock and felt a kin to Jane Goodall in the forest observing apes. Without any mind clutter or speech I was able to connect with my flock, on a different plane.

Chickens became my reason for living. I lived outdoors. They are the reason I survived years of surgeries and anguish. Chickens are just like us, they have nervous systems. They feel pain, joy, happiness, fear and love. They each have individual personalities. I fell in love with these beautiful, sentiment beings, and they fell in love with me too.

I was unable to listen to any audio or open my eyes to view the world. Both caused extreme pain, confusion, loss of cognition, diminishes speech and motor skills. The sensory pain was agonizing. My brain would physically shut down, in order to protect my healing brain. I required a person with me at all times, for 6 years, because this happened frequently.

I began volunteering at protests, long before I was aware of my own surroundings. I wore a chicken mask to an animal advocacy protest, out of sheer necessity. My husband held my hand and guided me through the crowds.

No one ever guessed that there was a scrambled/damaged human being inside who could barely communicate or visually/auditory process information. The mask, sunglasses and and hidden headphones helped me integrate back into society without endangering my senses.

I was unable to speak properly and my motor skills were highly impaired but I could sure hold a sign and get my point across.

Did I mention I spent many of these years without mobility, in a wheelchair? Thankfully, I risked a dangerous spinal cord surgery, and regained the ability to use my legs.

I still have many deficits and disabilities. Through years of hard work and discipline, I have learned to manage them in ways that allow me to advocate, educate, in new and creative ways.

I don’t remember/recognize the person I was prior to my accident. That Melanie disappeared. I took the opportunity to build myself into an individual of higher character, more education, less judgment, more love.

The new Melanie will always speak out on behalf of those who are oppressed, marginalized, victimized. My life is not of neutrality, but a life of action, compassion and awareness.

I have found ways to disguise my deficits and work with my abilities. I volunteer as a full-time animal activist.

I now volunteer as co-organizer for our San Diego Anonymous for the Voiceless chapter. I also co-organizer (co-founder) for San Diego Animal Save.

I am also a volunteer journalist/reporter for Jane Velez Mitchell, JaneUnChained.

I am the cofounder of an up-and-coming animal rights organization, Kind Heart Coalition. We are at grassroots organization teaching our community about animal education, health, food and so much more!! KindHeartCoalition.org

When I’m not volunteering, I rescue and rehabilitate chickens in my own backyard micro sanctuary, Om Tweet Om. I am extremely knowledgeable regarding chicken care , and I use every opportunity to teach others. Chickens are gentle, loving, curious, and depend on us for care and advocacy.

Eight years later, many surgeries and years of rehabilitation, I am now able to attend conferences, coordinate community activities and live my dream of advocating/speaking up for all animals.

Animals saved my life. I owe it to them to return the favor.

Blogger Bio: Melanie Langston-Bazzell

Melanie is a co-organizer for the save movement and anonymous for the voiceless in San Diego. She is also a volunteer at Farm Animal Refuge and a reporter for Jane Mitchell. She participates in various other activism including protests, Direct Action Everywhere, and helped organize the Animal Rights March here in San Diego.

Instagram links: @veganchickenartist @veganartistmelanie
Website: Kind Heart Coalition

Step two of vegan by Melanie Arce

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.

Lilac

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

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.

My Road To Veganism

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?

Blogger Bio: Brianna Martelozzo

Brianna Martelozzo is San Diego artist and activist.  Soon after starting her journey to a vegan lifestyle she became very active and is extremely passionate about animal rights.    She actively participates in the Save Movement, Anonymous for  the Voiceless, and was an Organizer and speaker at the San Diego Animal Rights March with Surge Activism.  She is a constant inspiration for all of us to get involved and be a voice for animals.  She went from going vegan to co organizing the largest animal rights march San Diego has seen in just a few years. To get involved or follow her mission….

Instagram links: @briannabaerart @sandiegoanimalrights
Facebook: San Diego Vegan Activists

Our Hens

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

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

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 & Harmony

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.

Rudy

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

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

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

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

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 .

Firecracker

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.

Mila & Alfie

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.