I had the honor of attending National Animal Rights day for the second year in Los Angeles. The National Animal Rights Day (NARD), established by Our Planet. Theirs Too in 2011, is an annual day observed in the US on the first weekend of June, for the purpose of giving a voice to animals and raising awareness for their rights, until these rights are established and protected by the law. I personally saw this day as a call to action to every human who consciously or unconsciously contributors to the mass murder and enslavement of sentient beings on this planet. This year, like last year, over a hundred of us gathered at the Santa Monica Pier to hold animals that had been brutally killed for food, skin and in medical research as well as shelter animals who had been euthanized because there simply aren’t enough homes for them. Men, women and children all openly wept for the animals we held- pigs, goats, hens, chickens, fish, cats, birds, squirrels and dogs lay frozen in our arms, many with their eyes still open. We could only imagine what their eyes had seen and the bruises, black and blue and their bloody lacerations showed us some of what their bodies has endured.
At the event, organized by Aylam Orian and a small group of committed California activists we all signed the Declaration of Animal Rights and a celebration of the future, the beginning of which is already here: a cruelty-free lifestyle for humans, and freedom and equal rights for all animals. As explained on the Nard website: “Since the dawn of humanity, the use and abuse of non-human animals have been part of human beings’ everyday lives. We have gotten accustomed to relying on animals for almost everything we do. And while we raise our children on animal books, puppets, films and television shows, we have devised well-oiled systems, unimaginable in their cruelty, to raise, kill, and use every part of these animals for all our needs: from food, to fashion, cosmetics, medicines, house hold items, labor, sports, and entertainment. When one examines the sheer magnitude of it, it’s unfathomable. And it’s going on every day, every hour, every moment.”
When I arrived to the Pier I spotted a seagull in need of help, she had a fishing hook embedded into her mouth. Thankfully, we were able to free her from the hook and one of the NARD participants rushed her to a wildlife rehabber. We also tried in vain to catch a pigeon who had her legs tied together with beach trash that had become entangled around her. Another reason to never litter. Hopefully, we will be able to find and free her in the future.
In the year 2014, on planet Earth, 6 million animals are killed in slaughterhouses around the world every 30 minutes. In the United States alone, 10 billion land animals and 20 billion sea animals are killed for food every year. An additional 10 million die in laboratories, and 3 million are killed for their skin and fur. It is estimated that another 200 million are killed by hunters. That’s 80 million living beings a day!
If these animals could talk, their chorus of cries would drown out every other noise in the world. They would come from every farm, slaughterhouse, meat market, testing lab, breeding factory, fishing pond, hunting ground, circus, zoo, religious temple, pet store, city shelter, restaurant, and dinner table, in every home on every street. These individual beings, who have a soul, a unique character, a will to live, and a natural right to do so, are just like us: they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Some of them have feathers, some of them have fur, some of them have paws and some have tiny little legs. But they all share the very same thing we have in common too: they want to live. With their loved ones. Happy and free.
The National Animal Rights Day was created to give a voice to these billions and billions of anonymous nameless beings. Once a year, on this day, around the US, we stop everything else, and remember them. We mourn their loss, express their pain through ours, and reach out on their behalf to anyone who has a heart to listen. On this day we also celebrate the living animals who are part of our lives now, and the great strides that are made every year towards a cruelty-free, compassionate nation, for all beings.
This tradition will continue until the day when all animals could live on their own terms, with their families and offspring, happy and free. Until the day when these beautiful beings have equal rights to human beings on this planet. Until the day when human beings take responsibility and protect all animals, instead of harming them. Until that day, we will be here.
I plan on returning to NARD every year until every cage is empty and every tank is drained.
To learn more about NARD visit http://www.thenard.org
PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Foto