story & photo
by Larry Greene
On a perfect autumn afternoon on October 26, a CT version of the 2008 Walk for Farm Animals got underway. Lisbon was one of 55 communities across North America taking part in the yearly stroll to benefit Farm Sanctuary, the largest farm animal protection organization in the country. The organization is involved in advocacy, education and rescue efforts for farm animals. In a recent major effort, Farm Sanctuary rescued 70 pigs abandoned during flooding in Iowa.
Heather Harrison-Rouillard, Lisbon, a 10-year member of Farm Sanctuary, was the event coordinator in her community. “There was nothing like this in CT,” said Heather, giving the reason she started the yearly trek four years ago. Her effort inspired a second walk that was undertaken this year in Hartford.
Her first walk raised $500 for Farm Sanctuary. The fund-raising target this year is $1,712. Every year, the effort gets larger with more money raised, more people attending and more businesses donating, according to Heather. While some of the walkers are vegetarians, the group is not advocating that people stop eating meat, the effort is to stop the mistreatment of farm animals. “Everyone has a choice to their own lifestyle,” said Heather.
Thomas Williams, and his wife Sherie, Stonington, have been donating to the cause for a few years, but decided to attend this year. “There’s so many ways to go about it,” said Thomas, a meat-cutter by trade. “To produce enough meat in this country, you’re almost forced to do it,” he said, referring to the gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for egg-laying hens. “What we need is smaller farms.”
Carolin Antonion traveled from Redding after reading about the event on the internet. “I stopped eating meat about eight or nine years ago,” she said. “Farm Sanctuary opened my eyes to the horrible treatment animals get in factory farms.” Carolin sponsored the adoption of a chicken and a sheep through the organization.
Alexandra Deutsch, Norwich, is a 14-year-old student at Pomfret School. “I’ve been a vegan, by my own choice, since the sixth grade,” she said. “Animals have always played an important role in my life.” Her family has four cats, but Alexandra wanted to also focus on farm animals. “I don’t like to see animals treated badly,” she said. She is happy with the direction food providers have gone to serve vegetarians. “Definitely, over the years, more and more restaurants have offered options,” she said.
“Meat is partly responsible for the health problems in the US,” said Dana Abetti, Salem. “Government subsidies to the meat industry help fuel the problem.” A vegetarian of 25 years, Dana recently joined Farm Sanctuary. “I like that they not only rescue, but educate,” she said.
Subway Restaurants donated veggie wraps and Big Y donated water for the walkers. Green Market, Olive Garden and Margarita’s donated gift certificates for raffle prizes. Walk sponsors included MooShoes, The Groovy Baker, Foley Enterprises, A Scent of Scandal, Boston Baked Bonz and New London Animal Welfare League.
Donations for this year)s fundraiser will be accepted until the end of November by visiting the website www.firstgiving.com/lisbon_ct or calling 860.859.9133 between 9am-9pm.