Fiona Fox has worked with NSW Hen Rescue to liberate many hens from factory farms. She dedicates every waking moment to helping animals and has even started her own farm animal sanctuary near Taree with fellow animal activists Tara Maher and Denise Tuck as well as our very own Rescue Team Leader Sharron Woodward. The new sanctuary is called Manning River Farm Animal Sanctuary and will provide a home for many liberated animals. We had a chat with Fiona about her volunteer work with Hen Rescue.
What drives you to spend your spare time liberating factory farmed hens?
Injustice is what drives me.
A couple of years ago I was invited to attend an Animal Liberation meeting as I was looking for a way to become more involved in animal rights but didn't quite know where to start. This was the beginning of my life's passion to liberate animals from factory farms.
I met and became involved with some wonderful people who took me on my first rescue and to this day we continue on a weekly basis to liberate as many hens as we possibly can. I remember the emotion on that first rescue of seeing hens in cages. It was surreal to be standing in this huge factory farm seeing all of these beautiful hens squashed in and sitting on top of each other in these tiny cages where they will spend 18 months of their life until they are no longer of any use to the industry. When the day comes to leave the factory farm they will be cruelly dragged out of their cages, by their feet, breaking legs, breaking wings and tearing skin. The hens are thrown onto a truck and sent to a brutal death at the slaughterhouse. It is absolutely disgusting the way these gentle girls are treated. This is all "standard practice" and is allowed to happen.
When we liberate the hens they are ofen in the most appalling condition. They have lost feathers and their skin is red raw. Sometimes they have been debeaked so severely they can hardly pick up food to eat. They are anaemic and some have horrific chest infections.
I am driven by the absolute injustice of the way factory farmed animals are treated. They have no say, no voice and are forced into a life of slavery by, and for human beings and this is not ok. I will spend the rest of my days fighting for the rights and freedom of factory farmed animals.
What is one of your most memorable moments as an animal activist?
There are too many to point out just one, but I would have to say that liberating a hen from a cage, and seeing those first moments when their feet touch the ground and feel the soft grass has to be one of the absolute best feelings in the world.
Watching the girls for the first time be able to spread and flap their wings. Knowing they have never ever been able to do this before brings tears to my eyes. Seeing them scratching in the dirt and having their very first dust bath where they roll around throwing dirt all over themselves then spread their wings and relax in the sun is the most wonderful experience to see. Just being able to do everything that is their natural instincts to do but are denied by being locked in cages.
What could people do today to help animals stuck in factory farms?
First of all I would encourage people to read up on factory farming and have an understanding of what these animals go through, then start educating others about the cruelty involved. Speak up for Animals. If you want to help these girls, fostering is a wonderful way to give these girls the life that they deserve. They are the most amazing beings, all have their own personalities. They are curious, intelligent and very loving and will bring so much joy into your life you will wonder how you ever lived without them.
As people are becoming more aware of the cruelty involved in factory farming, more are choosing to live a cruelty free and compassionate life by becoming Vegan. This means they don't eat animals or the products taken from them, they don't wear them and they don't buy products that are tested on them.
We can all do something to make this world a better place for the animals.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead.