This past Saturday I spent a good hour or more trying to sift through at least
25 monetary request letters for animal welfare. I knew I had to whittle down the
number considerably - especially since I was trying to help the no-kill Cleveland
APL and Happy Trails - our local answer to Farm Sanctuary.
I was glad that I had ordered the "Watchdog" for $25 from Animal People
which is an annual report of 174 Animal Charities for 2011. I was able to
check out many in that 25 letter-request bundle I had as to the charities'
leadership, salaries, advocacy, etc.
I was also glad that Merritt Clifton, the editor, had also indicated those few
charities which depended on patterns of sustained high spending on direct mail
fundraising. Re those nine, I asked him by e-mail if they were legitimate charities.
He responded by saying that most may be doing animal rescue, but that the high
overhead in fund raising meant that 70-75 cents of each dollar was used for that
expense. That money use of course meant less for helping the animals.
Then I asked him about the 8 animal charities I had no knowledge of because
they were not addressed in Watchdog. I told him that I understood that it was
mission impossible for him to cover all the thousands of animal charities out there,
but I wondered if he knew anything about this group of 8. One of them was called
the GENTLE BARN.
Merritt is very kind to answer e-mail queries and he told me that Gentle Barn came
to his attention only in connection with participation in a major hoarding rescue in
January 2008 and evacuation during the California wildfires of 2007 and 2009.
This sounded very caring to me and so I went to read their letter.
The front page had a head picture of a young cow called Angel. She obviously was
looking at the camera and so you could see her beautiful eyes. As we all know, the
eyes are the gateway to our souls, and it really doesn't matter whether it is a human
or animal soul. I think it was Mary Tyler Moore who once said that she couldn't eat
anything that had eyes. Yes, many of us who are vegetarian or vegan feel the same
Now Angel's story. She had been rescued from a stockyard auction only a couple of
weeks earlier. She was just considered a by product of milk production and little
more than trash. Angel had not known a gentle touch or tender care until she
came to Gentle Barn.
I hope by now we all realize that for the dairy industry -baby cows are mostly unwanted.
These babies will never enjoy their mother's milk because we are the ones who will
take it from them every time we buy milk or a dairy product. So Angel after she was
born was taken away from her mother. Both mother and baby felt deeply the pain of
separation. I know that cows and calves can cry and each certainly must have.
Angel was sent to a lot where she had to survive on dry pellets. Imagine a baby being
deprived of her mother's milk and trying to subsist on dry pellets. Why even Jack,
my bunny, gets more than rabbit pellets at every meal to which I add fresh greens and
Angel cried for her mother, but her cries were dismissed. She would never see her
mother again. And somehow one day she was impregnated with the hopes that she
too would become a dairy cow as well.
But Angel's luck was about to change when she was rescued by Gentle Barn at a
stockyard auction. Here finally she began to understand what kindness and love was
all about. These people at Gentle Barn were oh so different from the ones where she
had come from. Even though she arrived just skin and bones - filthy and traumatized -
when it came time for her to give birth she "seemed" better and healthier.
But fate would not be kind to Angel. On a Saturday morning she experienced horrific
pain which always signals a difficult birth. When the Gentle Barn people found her,
Angel was on the ground straining and crying out. Her little calf was breach. The
vet was called and he said that in order to turn the baby around, Angel had to stand
up. But by now she was just too weak. Her former life of abuse and malnourishment
had caught up with her. She now had neither the strength or the will to keep on trying.
Despite doing whatever they could, they lost Angel and her baby on this very sad day.
The story ends with Gentle Barn's own words: "Angel died in our arms as we cried for
her and her lost innocence, her lost baby, and her lost life. We cried for the millions
of cows who suffer like Angel did -babies who are taken from their mothers at only a
few days old, kept in deplorable conditions, treated like garbage and then sold to
When my sister came over this past weekend, I asked her to use up the cold cereal which
I had bought but then realized it had a caramel ingredient. Caramel is usually made
with milk or cream. As a vegan, I could not eat any more of it. She asked me "Can't
you give a little?" I don't remember how I responded, but I wish that I had said to her -
no, I can't give a little - not when all those poor cows are suffering so abysmally to provide
us with milk and milk products which we don't even really need.
Thank you Gentle Barn. I hope I can dig a little deeper and send something in remembrance
of Angel. It will not be much, but Angel will know that I care deeply about her and her