Walk for Animals Raises Funds Against Abuse
(Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary)
Annual event sponsored by Farm Sanctuary expands for 2011 celebration.
Blitzen, the calf, Apollo, the turkey and Nikki, the sow, lead a Farm Sanctuary special assignment later this week. As three special ambassadors to the Walk for Farm Animals, they team up with Eva, the duck, Ian, the ram, and Georgia the hen to spread the word about cruelty at factory farms and steps everybody can take to protect animals.
They'll have support from humans, like Farm Sanctuary co-founder Gene Baur and "Bones" television star Emily Deschanel.
Deschanel, according to Farm Sanctuary's Meredith Turner, is this year's national spokeswoman for the Walk, and she is urging everyone to sign up. Baur will go to five of the events and speak.
The walk is bigger than a one-day event. It's actually a series of weekend community celebrations being held in 38 U.S. and Canadian cities between Sept. 10 and Nov. 6, according to Reannon Branchesi, Walk for Farm Animals manager.
"Our main focus is encouraging people to get involved," she said, and the emphasis is on family fun.
"There are definitely activities for kids," she said; they run the gamut from face painting to the farm animal costume parade. At some walks, prizes go to the children with the best costumes, she said. At others, particularly around Halloween, the organizers encourage the "parents and kids to come dressed as a chicken or a pig."
Food, music and speakers and entertainment are staples. The walk is literally a walk in the park, she said. Expect a loop about two to three miles long on a sidewalk or similar flat and manageable terrain, typically inside a park.
"What's fun about the walk is getting together with like-minded people," said Nell Alk, a New York City writer. She has hiked up Central Park West amid a throng of people, all wanting to be a voice for kindness to animals, she said. And the best part was the atmosphere, she said. This was a "peaceful presentation demonstrating," she said, with nothing antagonistic about it.
Last year, some 7,000 people participated and raised $450,000 for the Farm Sanctuary shelter and programs, Branchesi said. The Walk for Farm Animals and the Thanksgiving Adopt-a-Turkey campaign are the organization's main fundraisers, she said. About 80 percent of the budget goes to the animal shelters in New York and California, and to education and advocacy, she said.
"We do actively rescue animals," she said. For example, Farm Sanctuary's shelter director "visited" an upstate New York stockyard the day Blitzen was abandoned on a pile of downer calves and left to starve. She rescued him and two other calves, Lawrence and Alexander in the back of her truck and took them to a veterinarian. One calf was so sick it couldn't stand, Branchesi said, but they all recovered.
"Blitzen was one of the worst off," she said. He had pneumonia, and he was tiny. He was so small no one at the auction wanted him; and when he wasn't sold, he was thrown away. At Watkins Glen, N.Y. sanctuary, he received a plasma transfusion and medical care. He and Lawrence and Alexander are now tearing around the pasture under the mothering of the "older special needs herd." Blitzen is doing so well, he's a bit of a terror, Branchesi said.
Nikki also now lives at Watkins Glen after a harrowing rescue. In 2008, Midwest floods stranded hundreds of animals and trapped them without food, shelter or water. Nikki gave birth while she was stranded on a levee, and she stayed with her babies, refusing to leave, until Farm Sanctuary rescuers saved the whole family, Branchesi said.
Apollo, Ian, Eva and Georgia also were rescues. Apollo was left at Farm Sanctuary with more than 35 other baby turkeys. Ian was confiscated by law enforcement after his owner left him tied up in the back of a truck. Eva was found in a dump during an undercover investigation at a foie gras factory. And Georgia was saved from an egg farm. Their stories are told at walkforfarmanimals.org, and people can join each animal's team, as another way of participating.
This year, Branchesi said, the goal is to register 10,000 people and raise a million dollars. Advance registration costs $15 for adults and $5 for teens. Children under 12 register for free, but they have to be signed up for insurance purposes, Branchesi said. (Last minute registration on the day of the walk costs $35, she said; that's to cover the cost of food and presumes people didn't raise donations.) To find the nearest Walk, go online and search by state or province.
Some walks allow dogs, but others do not. It depends on the specific park's rules. For example, the dogs are allowed at the Boston Common, but not at the Providence, R.I. location.
People unable to find a nearby walk or who like to sleep on the weekend can register for the virtual walk. It's too late to start a new walk, but Farm Sanctuary is taking new locations for next year.
"No other group is doing a walk for farm animals, so we're excited," Branchesi said.
For more information go to walkforfarmanimals.org.
Have you heard about Walk for Farm Animals events in your area? Are you planning to get involved in this year's event? Tell us below!
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