Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge

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Two weeks ago I had the honor of visiting the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in Pittsboro, NC. Piedmont is a sanctuary in the truest sense of the word. Only a few miles from major industrial pig and chicken farms, and in the middle of areas frequented by deer hunters, this place brought a sense of peace to me…and more important a safe place for our animal friends.

Beside meeting Lenore and the turkeys (seriously, turkeys are the best) my favorite part was seeing their amazing new goat barn, and the bird barn. Lenore’s husband designed these buildings with the animals safety and needs in mind. They were honestly stunning and unlike any barn I have been to.

It was really interesting to see a relatively new sanctuary as opposed to very established one. It really gives you more appreciation to the people who dedicate their lives to help the animals.

The next time you are in the Raleigh, NC area PLEASE take a trip out to Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge to see for yourself how truly amazing this sanctuary is. I know this this place will only continue to grow.

Donate Here 

Support them via Vegan Cuts

Buy some mercy

(Logo is theirs. Photos are mine.)

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary Fundraiser

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Please donate to my fundraiser for Woodstock Farm Sanctuary here: http://donate.woodstocksanctuary.org/betheirsound

If you are on Tumblr, please reblog that post here: http://bts-animaladvocacy.tumblr.com/post/131707384451/help-me-meet-my-1000-goal-for-woodstock-farm

Last weekend I was lucky enough to meet Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s new residents who were rescued from a horrible case of abuse and neglect at a backyard butcher. Upon seeing the beautiful animals they saved, I started to tear up.

As you know, the Be Their Sound name is dedicated to animal rights and awareness. While I plan to open my own farm sanctuary in the future, these animals and this amazing place needs help now. Please share this fundraiser and donate what you can. The funds we raise together will go towards medical treatment, food and other supplies to help these wonderful animals.

I love turkeys

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*The birds above all live happy, safe lives at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in High Falls, NY. Photos taken by me.*

I don’t think I can put into words exactly how much I love turkeys. Every time I meet them they make it easy to recall why they are one of my favorite animals to spend time with. Their inquisitive and gentle nature make them easy to get along with, and fun to observe. They have a range of vocalizations that not only make them endearing, but prove that their communication abilities are complex.

At farms all over the world, turkeys are debeaked and de-toed without anesthetic. They are confined in dirty, over crowded enclosures and denied everything that comes naturally to them. The birds that are killed for food are still babies, they are still peeping like chicks. 

Turkey’s love spending time with humans as well as their flock. I have scratched many a turkey head, and under-wing. They make soft sounds of happiness, lean into your hand and close their eyes. So how can people still eat these amazing, personable animals? Are your tastebuds really more important than their lives?

300 million turkeys lose their lives in the United States every year. 43 million of those birds die for your Thanksgiving Day meals.

Check out my post here for cruelty free alternatives for your Thanksgiving Day meal.

And click here to learn more about these beautiful animals, and the abuse that they face.

“Cykochik vegan products are great…but their name? Not so much.

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It’s always exciting when you find a new cruelty-free, entirely vegan company. The more vegan accessories and clothing the better! But when that company’s name is extremely dis/ableist, that excitement diminishes pretty quickly.

Cykochik is the name, and despite the alternate spelling, this is deeply offensive. Using an illness in a way that is mean to be “fashionable” or “fun” is extremely hurtful to those who suffer from psychopathy, and other mental illness.

While Founder Nikki Duong Koenig might mean no harm, they need to know that this is not something to be taken lightly. Cykochik’s “About” page even states that the name is to be taken “tongue-in-cheek”, acknowledging that such a title is supposed to be humorous.

Dis/ableism is all too common, and as vegans we should strive to make sure our movement is intersectional. Please reach out to this company on FB and politely tell them that while you love their products and their message, their name is hurtful. Just because they are vegan, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be called out.

**Note that some people prefer to use the terms ableism, disablism, or (dis)ableism, and find that other terms are actually problematic. I could find no concrete evidence about which term is the most accepted, and have found that in my experience “dis/ableism” is typically well received.

Piping Plovers

So it’s pretty much common knowledge that piping plovers are some of the cutest little shits in the entire world. Seriously, just look at them. Unfortunately, they are also in serious danger. There are only 8,000 left. The danger is us, of course.

From The Audubon Society:

Proposed changes to the wildlife protections for Cape Hatteras National Seashore would drastically reduce protection zones for Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, Least Terns and other nesting birds. If enacted, it would be a sad triumph of pressure politics over sound science and could jeopardize the birds’ future.

The current plan, in place since 2012, protects only the most critical habitats for nesting shorebirds and sea turtles for a brief period each year. And at the same time offers year-round recreational opportunities for people to enjoy the wild and unspoiled Hatteras coast.

Under the plan, both birds and people have thrived.

But a small and vocal group of off-road vehicle enthusiasts have mounted a concerted and well-funded attack in Washington. They vehemently oppose restrictions on their privilege to drive on the beach, no matter the consequences for wildlife.

Apparently, recreational activities are more important than the livelihood of an entire species. But you can help.

Donate to the Audubon Society’s effort to protect this vital environment here.
If donating to them isn’t your thing (we get it!), donate to a wildlife rehabber that helps out injured and orphaned chickies. Find a list by state here.
Learn more about these little turd birds here & here.

Protect our bird friends. They are important too.

Avian Friends

I feel sick and horrified when I see any photo or description of an animal being hurt. Any animal.

But when I see birds in danger or hurting I become indescribably angry. I think it’s because people treat them as pretty objects so often. That they think for some reason, birds aren’t as worth protecting as mammals. I’ve known many birds on an extremely personal and deep level. They are such amazing beings who deserve to be treated as individuals and not as property to be owned.

All animals should be treated with respect and every single one of them deserve to live their lives without suffering. But birds, I need to protect birds.

If you are a bird lover like me, please check out the following bird rescues and sanctuaries. Do you have a favorite parrot, or farm bird rescue?

Happy Hen House

Chicken Rescue & Sanctuary

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary

Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary 

Idaho Domestic Bird Rescue & Sanctuary, Inc

Lily Sanctuary Parrot Rescue

Polly Want A Rescue

Foster Parrots

Florida Parrot Rescue

Yes, I said Sex Crime

Distributing photos of a sensitive nature without permission is, in many cases, considered a computer related sex crime. It is sexual harassment, and cases similar to the Dominguez incident have been tried and people have been charged, in criminal court as well as sued in civil.

I’ve received a disgusting amount of comments claiming that what Dominguez did isn’t a “big deal”. Comments blaming victims, and comments dismissing his actions as just silly, ill-advised immaturity. These comments will not be published. Victims of sexual harassment and other sex crimes don’t need to see the abhorrent shitty behavior from victim blamers from yet another source. So if you are wondering why your comments weren’t approved, there you have it.

I want to keep this a safe space. You can disagree with me and my opinions all you want, and I will publish those comments. But the moment you start saying things that can seriously hurt and trigger others your comments will be left unpublished. That’s just how it is.

Activist Admits to Sex Crimes

Yesterday, the well-known Direct Action Everywhere organizer, Hugo Dominguez, admitted to multiple sex crimes, and the victims are all fellow activists. He manipulated, and lied to these individuals to order to steal or otherwise obtain photos that are sensitive in nature. He then shared them with others, without permission of the people in the photos.

Direct Action Everywhere has handled this horrifying breach of trust rather gracefully, and while most of the community is outraged there are victim blamers and misogynists abound. It is times like these that we within the animal rights community MUST admit that sexism runs rampant amongst activists. Ignoring the problem is not an option.

It is of vital importance that women feel safe in DxE’s community. In the past few days, we learned that there was a serious breach of trust on the part of one of our organizers, Hugo Dominguez. We take this breach very seriously and are taking all steps, guided by the women harmed, to ensure that Hugo is accountable for the harms he has caused.

On a forward-going basis, we are designating a few female members of our conflict resolution committee (Priya Sawhney and Maryam LK) to be available specifically where there is a concern over sexual harassment or misconduct. We absolutely encourage all activists in our network to reach out to these facilitators if any issues arise, and we will hold confidential any information provided to us in this regard. We will also provide resources for women who want to reach out to an outside group regarding this issue. 

In the meantime, Hugo will be stepping back from his role as an organizer for the indefinite future and will seek out resources and counseling on consent culture and sexual harassment.

Direct Action Everywhere FB post

He has issued a public “apology” on Facebook (no doubt only because he was caught, and told to do so by DxE).

Hi everyone. If we’re friends, it’s very possible you’ve heard allegations about my betrayal of women and others in the animal rights movement these past few days. It’s with much regret that I admit to those allegations. I’ve hurt, manipulated and exposed very explicit images and confidential information about female animal rights activists. I’ve broken many of the principles and values which I espouse. While claiming to stand against the exploitation of human beings as well as animals, I have betrayed the trust of many people within the community and disgracefully took advantage of my position in this movement and hurt many people. I am a hypocrite in many regards and can’t begin to image the suffering I’ve caused many women. 

I want to use this post as a platform for people to vent their feelings towards me. Any comments showing sympathy or comfort will be deleted. If you don’t feel comfortable posting your sentiments on this post, you’re free to message Priya Sawhney and she’ll pass on the message to me. I’ll be leaving this post up for 48 hours and will be deactivating my account and stepping back from activism to seek help and take the proper steps so I never hurt and exploit women again.

I’m terribly sorry to all those I’ve disappointed, to the movement, but most importantly the women I’ve hurt who will probably be scarred due to my behavior. Thank you everyone for your time.

-Hugo Dominguez

I am urging all of you to break all ties with this individual, keep the pressure on DxE to stand by their statement and make sure that they continue to address to on-going problem within their organization (I believe they will). offer nothing but support to the victims. Do not speak over them. Do not pressure them to do or say something they are not comfortable with. Do not blame them. And for fucks sake, do not identify them publicly.

The animal rights movement has a human rights problem. If people within the AR community are not treated equally, with respect and kindness, how can we help our non-human friends effectively?

The “Horse Lovers”

It reads like a war memorial. Ages, names, dates and location of those who lost their lives too soon. All of them were young, all of them died needlessly and all of them deserved better.

They were horses; mostly Thoroughbreds, a few Standardbreds. The names of racing Arabians, Quarter horses and paints are missing, their “sports” aren’t as widely publicized. The list complied by the diligent people at horseracingwrongs.com has hundreds of names, but it’s not complete. You see, the names of race horses euthanized later, or those who died on private farms, or killed at slaughter houses aren’t reported to the media as readily, or at all. If they were the list would be never-ending, amassing in the thousands. And this was just for 2014.

The horse racing industry is built on animal exploitation. From the day they are born, until the day they die these animals exist only to serve humans, to make a profit until their bodies give out. Yet so-called horse lovers hold their breaths until racing season begins. They follow the careers of their beloved athletes, all while ignoring the blatant cruelty these individuals endure. They are sad when a horse dies, many even send flowers and condolence cards to owners and trainers when a favorite is killed in action, or back at the breeding farm after a long, hard career. But they continually support the industry, for their own enjoyment. “Accidents happen”, they say. “The horses love to run”.

I used to be one of these people. I made these justifications to myself, at first because I didn’t know better. But when I started college for equine studies in 2007, and was given a behind the scenes look at every aspect of the industry, the guilt came. I changed my tune slowly at first, refusing to attend races, but still watching them on television, rooting for my favorites. But as I learned more about the practices considered “normal” by the industry, and as I was forced to take foals from their mothers at an unnaturally early age (or hear the news that a horse I knew personally was injured, or to be sold at auction) I could no longer stomach it. Watching racing with my classmates quickly turned into 2-3 minutes of absolute dread “Please don’t break down. Please don’t break down” became my mantra.

The last race I attended was the 2010 Belmont Stakes, at Belmont Racetrack in New York. A friend of mine was a groom for the trainer Bill Mott, and a horse she groomed was running. We walked the shed-rows, laying kisses on the noses of current racing legends, and legends “in the making”. All the while I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, as my friend spoke with excitement about the upcoming race. She wanted to win, I just wanted them to be safe. In fact, she did win. Drosselmeyer won the 2010 Belmont Stakes by a nose, and no one died that day. My friend stood beaming in the winners circle next to a stressed out horse as I stood outside, wishing only to go home.

Two Standardbreds died a few days ago, only 8 miles from where I live. But as I drove past Yonkers Raceway just a day after their deaths, I could see that it was business as usual. To the industry the horses are profit margins, mere objects whose deaths only truly matter because money and fame is lost. If those in the industry cared about the horses, there would be no industry at all.

I wonder how many will lose their lives today. I wonder how many will care.