As an animal rights activist in Canada, I was familiar with meeting pigs in transport trucks outside slaughterhouses. We’d be there bearing witness in the freezing cold of winter and then the boiling heat of summer as part of the Save Movement, whose Anita Krajnc has become a hero with her shocking prosecution for giving water to a pig bound for slaughter. If you’ve never met a pig, it’s shocking. They have human-like eyes. They do look you in the eye. You can feel their plight.
Recently, I decided to take a step further and go inside a farm as part of a practice — open rescue — in which advocates openly investigate farms and rescue animals from harm. What I saw shocked me. I’d learned about Open Rescue via the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere, whose investigations into so-called “humane” farms have made headlines from the New York Times to the Huffington Post. I longed to rescue a little soul and to find him or her a loving forever home. It sounded like an undertaking that would be a joyous project for an activist. Yes, we did rescue Madison, but what I’m left with is flashbacks and nightmares. I wasn’t prepared for the conditions inside a factory farm.