Two years ago, I saw the story of the piglet Elvis on Instagram. He was saved from a pig farm in Australia by animal rights activist Leah Doellinger. Elvis was left to die in his mother’s feces, next to his already dead brothers and sisters. His mom couldn’t even turn in her cage to look at her babies.
Leah took the sick Elvis to the doctor, hoping he’d get better so she could give him a better life than his mom had. For days, I followed Elvis on Instagram. Leah asked us to pray for him, and thousands of people from all over the world did.
Sadly, he didn’t make it. Leah was heartbroken. Like many others, I cried watching her talk about Elvis, his very short life and the time she spent with him.
Leah is the founder of Meat The Victims, a growing community of citizens willing to enter farms to show the world how animals ‘the victims’ are being treated in there.
As a kid, Leah’s friends were her chickens: “I didn’t have friends in primary school. I didn’t eat animals in school, so I got bullied for that a lot, so the only thing I looked forward to was coming home to my chickens,” she says, smiling. You can tell she truly sees animals as her equals and her friends.
Seb the chicken
She gets emotional when she talks about Seb, the broiler chicken she tried to save: “I rescued him, but his body was completely broken (from being fed in a way his breast grows bigger than the rest of his body). I found him on his back in the shed. He was very top-heavy. I picked him up and took him home.”
She continues with tears in her eyes: “But he had no strength in his neck, so his neck kept falling down. He also had spread legs so he couldn’t stand up. I thought I’d try and sling him cause I’d done that before, and I had gotten chickens to walk again, but he couldn’t even keep his neck up. His neck was falling down. I just couldn’t keep him in that body.”
“It breaks my heart because he was really happy to be free, so he was looking up at the sky and he was just talking. He was so curious. But his body was just so broken, and it wouldn’t be fair to make him stay in such a broken body. So I took him to the vet, and they put him to sleep. This one affected me probably the most because he looked at me as a friend. I was his new friend, and he was mine, and I feel like I had to kill him.”
The world they weren’t allowed to have
“That’s one of the hardest things when you do take someone out of there and you want them to have a good life. You just so badly want them to be happy and get to enjoy this world that they have been rejected from, like they weren’t allowed to have. And then they die because their bodies are so broken, or you have to make the decision to take their life (because their bodies are so broken),” she explains.
The contrast is immense to me. Here’s a woman who tattooed a chicken (Seb) on her arm and talks about him so completely heartbroken that she couldn’t save him, while all over the world, including in my beautiful civilized Holland, we kill chickens without giving it a second thought.
Today, we talked about her love for animals, how she started Meat The Victims, farmers, the times she’s been arrested, the media, her journey from being an angry vegan to showing compassion to all, the story of Seb and her future plans.
We talked about how everyone points their finger at Asia for treating animals badly, but how our own countries, Holland and Australia, aren’t that much better. “We only hide it better,” Leah says. And I agree. While writing this, my Dutch government just decided to kill more than ten thousand animals in mink farms.
The way we look at animals and treat them so differently than humans is a huge problem in our world. So there comes a moment when ‘One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws’, the slogan of Meat The Victims.
Watch the whole interview here:
Once the coronavirus restrictions are down, there will be Meat The Victims actions in Australia, Israel, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Nothern Ireland, Spain and England. If you want to organize a Meat The Victims event in your country, you can send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.