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Animal Control and Busted Gates

If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll know by now that Sumo and/or Spreckles, two of the New Jersey 5, busted through one of our gates to get to the extremely tempting new grass we had wanted to let grow, unencumbered, just a bit longer before letting everyone loose on it. Ah well – we gave in to pressure and opened up the back pasture. It would have been nice to have accomplished that without losing a gate worth several hundred dollars (because I assure you, that gate was TOTALED), but whenever these things happen, I figure there’s a lesson in it.

This lesson – I think, anyway – is about control. In this case, our control over where everyone can, and cannot, go. We humans in the sanctuary community must always be extremely careful to ensure that any time we exert control over an animal in our care, we are damn sure we have an ethical reason for doing so. We must remember that, with a few exceptions, we are caring for adults – grown-ups – individuals whom we need not raise, nor infantilize, but to whom we must offer shelter if they are unable to make it on their own.

Our reason for not allowing the cows into the back pasture after we seeded was that to do so would compromise the growth of the seeds we’d sown, thus depriving the cows of as much grass as possible. Given that they had plenty of other acres with plenty of grass in them and hay (of course), this did not seem to us like a hardship. Sumo and Spreckles clearly felt otherwise, and given the vehemence with which they expressed their opinions – and given that we already had a decent pasture growing up – we figured what the hell.

Is this a small thing? Absolutely! Some ways we control our non-human sanctuary residents are relatively small: sleep in this building, forage in that yard, eat this kind of food, drink water out of this bowl. Some are larger, such as deciding that certain individuals need medical interventions, and some are larger still, such as castrating or spaying individuals, or taking their eggs from them. Good reasons for all of these actions exist, but it’s still imperative that we remember that we are imposing our will upon adult non-human individuals in ways we would never do to human individuals. If we forget that, and forget that such an imposition is (in the perfect world for which we are all struggling) a horrible way to treat someone else, then we risk exerting inappropriate control. And then we are back to square one in our speciesism.

Back to the busted gate – can you help us out with a buck or two? We could sure use the help, and it doesn’t look like Sumo or Spreckles have any intention of fixing the mess they made.



8 comments to Animal Control and Busted Gates

  • Jo Ward
    Critters being what they are they cannot see the wisdom in letting the grass grow even if for their long term benefit. Oh well, living in the moment is rather like walking into the local cafe and ordering the largest hot chocolate possible on a whim even though it wasn’t what you went in for in the first place – what the heck – go with the flow you Jerseys!
  • CQ
    This post made me smile.

    When I reached your word “imposition” near the end, I had an “aha” moment. I vividly recalled a futile attempt I made last night to help a friend see animals in a non-utilitarian light.

    He wasn’t having it. Instead, he insisted that no one (meaning me) should “impose” their beliefs on others (meaning him). How dare I attempt to reason with him? How dare I mess with his need to treat animals as objects born for the purpose of gratifying his palate? How “controlling” of me to explain that animals — including that mouth-watering fish carcass he dined on last week — want to live!

    Now I see that the REAL imposition is the one that we humans place every day on nonhumans. I was not the imposer. I was simply saying, “How silly to believe that an innocent prisoner should settle for his fate. It’s natural for her to try to break out of those bars. It’s normal for him to do everything in his power to pull a Shawshank.”

    So . . . go Sumo and go Spreckles. I’m sure Slippy (my sponsored hen) is rooting for you! I’ll chip in a buck for each fence-buster who acted upon her desire for freedom and refused to be imposed upon. :-)

  • Susan Curry
    I am happy to read there are many who already think of the animals as individuals – persons – with personalities and legitimate desires. Thank you for considering their “rights” as well as you do, until we can establish legal rights for animals.
  • CQ
    Susan Curry, your last phrase — “until we can establish legal rights for animals” — made me wonder if you’re familiar with Responsible Policies for Animals? It’s a small nonprofit that’s targeting constitutional rights for animals. Information on RPA’s strategies and projects is available at Another forum that RPA founder David Cantor has used to lay out his rights-seeking objective is here:

    How are donations for gate repair doing, pattrice and Miriam?

  • miriam
    Thanks for asking, CQ! So far, no donations. :-( But of course we fixed the gate using an old gate — it doesn’t quite fit but it’s doing the job and that’s what counts. :-)))
  • CQ
    But my $2 donation specified that it was for the gate, miriam! That’s okay, you can “slip it to Slippy” instead, in the form of extra treats! :-)
  • Miriam
    CQ — sorry for the delay! YOUR PAYPAL RECEIPT DOES NOT SAY CQ!!!! And I probably knew your “other” name at one point but I forgot since. So yes, we did get one donation! YOURS! THANK YOU!
  • CQ
    Hey, Miriam,

    Oh, yes, the Paypal receipt. I’ll have to specify “CQ” in the “special instructions and notes” next time. :-)

    My “other name,” which you knew once, is also an online name. (I’ll email you privately and tell you it.) But the Paypal name is for real. I hope! :-)

    P.S. The two smiles here will go a bit further than the two bucks in the scheme of things.

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