P.E.A.C.E. Statement of Concern on Alberta Farm Sanctuary

P.E.A.C.E. has become aware of some issues of concern at a farm animal sanctuary in Alberta.  P.E.A.C.E. is making the following statement out of concern for the safety and well-being of the animals in the care of this sanctuary and at neighbouring sanctuaries, to make the community aware of current concerns, and to provide the sanctuary an opportunity to clearly address these concerns in public.

Through public social media posts made by the sanctuary operator, direct communication, and concerns raised by other farm animal sanctuaries in the region, P.E.A.C.E. is currently aware of the following:

  • The farm sanctuary operator is openly engaged in high risk activism. This activity has, by their own admission, triggered threats and intimidation against their person, the sanctuary, and the animal residents at the sanctuary.  It also risks fines or imprisonment that could impact the care of animals at the sanctuary. This high risk activity includes:
    • Illegal trespass on animal agriculture operations;
    • Non-anonymized release of footage from inside animal agriculture operations while trespassing;
    • Breach of court order to abstain from contact with any farm animals, with an exception granted for contact with animals at farm sanctuaries.
  • Concerns from neighbouring farm animal sanctuaries in the region that continued open high risk activism by this farm sanctuary operator could bring threats to their sanctuaries and endanger the safety and well-being of the animals at their sanctuaries by association.
  • The death of a young farm animal at this farm animal sanctuary, which has not been made public, and with concerning circumstances surrounding their death.

Let it be clear that P.E.A.C.E. is not accusing the sanctuary operator of willful neglect or abuse of the animals in their care, and is attempting in good faith to clear up and address the concerns noted above.

P.E.A.C.E.’s Board of Directors has been in contact with the sanctuary directly and is making this statement as we continue to remain concerned for the current and future safety and well being of the animals at this sanctuary based on responses received from the sanctuary.

P.E.A.C.E.’s position is the following:
  • A farm animal sanctuary’s primary guiding principle and mission is to provide a place of safety, refuge, and care for rescued farm animals.  Actions that threaten the safety and well-being of the animals at the sanctuary run counter to a sanctuary’s mission. P.E.A.C.E. takes no position on high risk animal rights activism such as trespass and non-anonymized release of footage of farm conditions in and of itself. Individuals are free to make their own decisions as to what risks to their own persons they accept in their activism, up to and including facing harassment, intimidation, threats, fines, arrest, and imprisonment. However, a farm sanctuary operator’s decisions of risks and consequences affects not only themselves but also the animals in their care.  The animals at a farm sanctuary cannot voice their consent to accepting these risks.

    It is P.E.A.C.E.’s position that a sanctuary operator’s knowingly engaging in activity that brings risk to the animals in their care when it is unnecessary to the operation of the sanctuary shows disregard for the safety of the sanctuary residents, and that  such activity should not be undertaken by a sanctuary operator.

  • A farm sanctuary operates with the trust and confidence of the community that it is a responsible caretaker for rescued animals.  Integrity and transparency are the bedrock of that trust. When animals do pass away, it is imperative that their death be handled transparently.  Right or wrong, any indications of trying to handle the passing of an animal quietly raises serious concerns about intentions.

    It is P.E.A.C.E.’s position to recognize death as an unavoidable fact of life, and that the passing of animals at a farm animal sanctuary should not be hidden, but be clearly shared with the community to best honour their memory, demonstrate continued transparency, and permit the community to mourn their passing.
P.E.A.C.E. is asking the following:
  • That the sanctuary state publicly whether they will continue to engage in open, high risk activism that has, as described above, put the animals at their sanctuary and neighbouring sanctuaries at risk.
  • That the sanctuary share in public with the community the news of the passing of the young animal at their sanctuary, clear up the circumstances surrounding their passing, and state what has become of them after their passing, in order to honour their memory and permit the community to mourn their loss.

P.E.A.C.E. is not naming the sanctuary at this time in order to provide an opportunity for the sanctuary to address these concerns, and we are hopeful that the sanctuary will do so.  We have endeavoured to address possible questions below, but the community is encouraged to contact P.E.A.C.E. for any questions or concerns regarding this statement. 

Questions

Is P.E.A.C.E. accusing this sanctuary of willful neglect or abuse?

No.  P.E.A.C.E. has concerns that the sanctuary operator’s open, high risk activism, as outlined in the above statement, has triggered threats to the safety and well-being of the animals at the sanctuary as well as at neighbouring sanctuaries, but there is no accusation of willful neglect or abuse.

What do you mean by “concerning circumstances” around an animal’s death at the sanctuary?

There were initial concerns made known that their death was related to threats against the sanctuary, which would have posed a serious concern for the safety of animals at surrounding sanctuaries.  These theories have since been quelled, but the circumstances surrounding the animal’s death remain unclear. P.E.A.C.E. is primarily asking for possible rumours to be dispelled, these circumstances to be cleared up, and for the news of their passing to be shared clearly with the community in order that their memory may be honoured.

Why is P.E.A.C.E. making this statement? By what authority?

P.E.A.C.E. is not a governing or regulatory body, and no such governing or regulatory body exists for farm animal sanctuaries.  P.E.A.C.E. is a rescue and support organization that works with farm animal sanctuaries. Our mission is to support and unite farm animal sanctuaries to ensure animal care continues to exist for rescued farm animals.  P.E.A.C.E. became aware of the current situation through our connections with the farm animal sanctuary and animal rights activist communities, public social media posts, and through concerns brought to us by members of those communities.

P.E.A.C.E. has been working in private with members of the farm animal sanctuary community and the specific farm animal sanctuary to address the concerns raised in this statement.  However, from the sanctuary’s responses to discussion we are not confident that the concerns will be addressed. P.E.A.C.E. believes that the farm animal sanctuary and vegan and animal rights activist communities are closely interlinked, and farm animal sanctuaries operate with the trust of those communities.  We are bringing these concerns to the community as we are concerned for the safety and well-being of the animals at the sanctuary as well as at other sanctuaries in the region by association, and we wish to provide the sanctuary the opportunity to address these concerns and ensure the utmost safety and well-being of the animals in their care.

Why aren’t you naming the sanctuary?

P.E.A.C.E. is making this statement in a good faith effort to resolve these concerns.  We do not wish to create division or “turn anyone against” the sanctuary. We are making no accusations of intentional wrongdoing, but are raising concerns about the current situation.  We wish to provide the sanctuary the opportunity to come forward and address these concerns.

Why do you think sanctuaries cannot be involved in open, high risk activism such as trespassing, open rescue, etc.?

As noted in the statement, P.E.A.C.E. takes no position on open, high risk activism undertaken by individuals or groups.  Our concern is that if sanctuary operators engage in this type of action they are not simply making decisions that affect themselves but also are putting the safety and well-being of the animals in their care at risk.  It is P.E.A.C.E.’s position that the animals at a sanctuary cannot consent to their safety being put at risk, and so a sanctuary operator openly engaging in this type of action is necessarily in conflict with a sanctuary’s mission to provide a place of safety, refuge, and care to rescued farm animals.

What do you mean that news of animals passing should be “clearly shared” with the community?  Are you saying the news of each animal passing should have a public announcement or be in a public list right away?

This is not a prescription for a rigidly maintained record book or immediate social media notices.  We all need time to grieve, and these animals are individuals, not entries in a log book. The emphasis here is on transparency.  It is a fact of life that animals will pass while in a sanctuary’s care. At times this can be from circumstances where improvements can be made, for example it could be determined predators found a breach in fencing or shelters.  Deaths may also be from natural causes such as old age, illness, or sadly even side effects of animal agriculture such as poor health or life expectancy for broiler chickens or turkeys. The key point is to be straightforward and forthright about their passing, to honour their memory and to ensure that we look honestly at the care they were provided in life and in death.  Indications of trying to hide an animal’s death or the circumstances surrounding their death from the public would be deeply concerning.

What will P.E.A.C.E. do if the sanctuary does not respond to this statement, or if they state they will continue to engage in activity that threatens the safety and well-being of the animals at the sanctuary?

The P.E.A.C.E. Board of Directors will consider next actions, which may include releasing more specific details of the sanctuary and recent events to the community should the Board believe this to be in the best interest of the safety and well-being of the animals at the sanctuary and animals at neighbouring sanctuaries in the region.