Who Chains Us as Animal Advocates? What Stops You from Making Your Best Strides for the Animals?

Cow

When one applies the “First, Do No Harm” principle to everyday life, feeling a need to extend protection to animals is a no-brainer, and should be the obligation of every human on the planet.

What is “Do No Harm”?

From Reflections on Ethics by Paul Sharkey: It is commonly believed that the principle “First, do no harm” originated with the physician’s oath and is circumscript with the practice of medicine. It did not and it is not. As a moral principle, refraining from doing harm is both much more fundamental and much more universal than that. It forms the very foundation of the moral teachings of the founders of at least two of the world’s major religions and was so central to the life and teachings of Socrates that he literally chose to die rather than transgress it. Fully understanding, appreciating and following this principle is, I believe, key to following a life which is at once, fully human, fully alive, and fully virtuous.

Unfortunately, many people in our world—including our current government—do not live by this motto, and regularly visit harm on both humans and animals without sparing it a second thought. For those who do agree with “Do No Harm” (in theory at least), the welfare of animals is not considered important enough to fall under the principle, and so they apply it solely to humans.

The result is that very few folks who are not actively involved in the animal movement outwardly agree with or support broad protective efforts on behalf of the animals. They are all too quick to brush such efforts to the side in order to advocate for the ‘important human issues’, or dismiss them out of hand.

Where does that leave animal activists and rescuers? “Chained”, and full of negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and fear.

Who Chains Animal Advocates?

Any campaign on behalf of the animals has more than its fair share of adversaries. Law enforcement and society at large actively protect animal users and abusers from every walk of life. This includes but is not limited to: dog chainers, animal food producers, animal food consumers, rodeos and circuses, and pet animal mills.

All too often any human who helps a suffering animal ends up arrested.

There are very real emotional hurdles for an animal advocate to conquer in order to take a stand for the animals. These include, but are not limited to, the following five areas:

1. Fear of Standing Up and being Physically or Mentally Attacked by Animal Abusers

When one decides to take a public stance against any form of animal use and abuse, a primal fear of death must first be mastered before an advocate can and will put him/herself on the line for others. The chances of suffering either physical or emotional abuse for taking a stand for the voiceless is at virtually 100%. People who abuse animals without a thought have no compunction about doing the same to any human who gets in their way; therefore, those who desire to advocate for animals have to first face their fears and decide to act anyway.

2. Fear of Arrest

Any activist or rescuer working on behalf of animals faces arrest if they are engaged in front line efforts. Being arrested and dragged through the court system is not only scary, but affects one’s career and life outside of animal work, one’s pocketbook, and can even end in a felony and jailtime. That’s a lot of fear to get past in order to do what anyone with a heart would consider ‘the right thing’!

3. Anger that Even though there are Cruelty Laws on the Books, these Laws Don’t Protect the Animals

Virtually every state has cruelty laws on the books that go along the lines of “every animal must have food, water, shelter.” Not only do these laws often get completely ignored, any activist or rescuer who—forced to make a life or death decision on behalf of the animal—takes it into her/his hands to provide the animal the care and nutrition they need and deserve is labeled a vigilante at best, and “worse than the worst hardened criminal” at worst. (That’s what the D.A. said about me when I rescued a dog name Doogie from deplorable conditions in PA.)

Watching the suffering of animals and feeling as though your hands are tied to do anything about it leads to 24/7 anger and stress, which takes a debilitating toll on an animal advocate’s physical and mental well-being.

4. Frustration with People who Claim to LOVE Animals, while Refusing to Lift a Finger to Help

The animal movement is hard-pressed for willing volunteers. While so many people pay lip service to loving animals, the truth is that most won’t show up for fundraisers or foster an animal, let alone stop eating them. The hypocrisy of the situation is a source of endless frustration to animal advocates; and, worse, they are forced to keep these feelings inside for fear of offending donors and potential volunteers. Pushed down inside, these negative emotions brew up a nasty cocktail of physical and mental maladies, with ailments beginning to show up more and more regularly.

5. Fear of Failure in Helping the Animals

No one likes to fail. When we do suffer a failure in helping the animals, we are hit with a double whammy showcasing our own feelings of inadequacy sandwiched with highlights of guilt and shame for letting the animals down too. Soon an advocate may give up trying because the pain of failing again is just too daunting.

Compassion Fatigue

From my book, Foster Doggie Insanity: Just what is Compassion Fatigue Syndrome, anyway? In a nutshell, it is caused by the pain of witnessing or bearing repeated trauma while caring for others (in our case, animals) and putting the care of others before ourselves. We see no end to the need and no way to make it stop. The resulting apathy, detachment, inability to express emotions, and substance abuse heads a long list of manifestations now associated with and labeled as Compassion Fatigue Syndrome.

Most on the front lines of animal rescue and activism are at danger of developing Compassion Fatigue and/or PTSD, depending on how much abuse they are taking and how much self-care they are practicing while they are going through it.

Animal Advocates Deserve Better

You all deserve better than this ending, and I’d like to see us ALL practicing self-care on a daily basis in order to prop us up, allow us to keep working in the movement, and making a difference for the animals.

When we become sidelined due to PTSD and/or Compassion Fatigue, that’s one less heart and soul in the fight to end their abuse.

And they truly are the voiceless without us.

Why I Like Tapping for Animal Advocates

I like tapping for those in the animal activist and rescue movements because it focuses on REMOVING NEGATIVE EMOTIONS that are held in the body.

Practiced daily, it can and will set you on a positive path, even when you’re embroiled in front-line pain on an everyday basis. Watch the video below to get you started, and visit the founder of Tapping, Gary Craig’s website to immerse yourself and help you work through childhood ‘stuff’ that gets in the way of healing.

Once the Negative’s Out, Bring in the Positive

While it’s essential to release that negative each and every day, it’s also essential to fill the remaining ‘hole’ with positivity! Find a way that works for you, but opening your heart chakra (picture it right where your heart is, so open that heart!) to receive good things for you and the animals is crucial. The more time you can spend each day with an open heart (even though it makes you feel vulnerable, do it anyway!) the better your life will be and the more positive responses you will draw into your life.

If you’re working hard for the animals, let me be the first to commend and thank you. Please work on your self-care each and every day, as you deserve so much better than to be embroiled in pain for advocating for those we all love.

Have a great week!

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues. To book a one-on-one session with Ms. Thayne, visit the website at http://www.whochainsyou.com/activism.html.

Advertisements

Depression in the Animal Rescue and Animal Activist Communities: 4 Steps to Getting Past the Pain to Make a Difference

Depression is rampant in 21-st century America, and especially pervasive in the animal rescue and activist movements due to constant exposure to pain and suffering on the part of our animal friends.

We are often told that depression is anger turned inward, yet in the world of animal activism and rescue, depression more adequately equates to anger meets helplessness.

Not to overstate the situation, but there is an overwhelming amount of NEED in the animal rescue and activism world. Even if you were financially-set and resource-laden, one person still could not stem the flow of animals that need places to go and daily help. 

So how does one animal-loving human—without significant financial resources—feel when accosted daily with both the overwhelming need AND anger at those who abuse animals or allow abusers to get away with it?

Helpless, hopeless, frustrated, furious…

DEPRESSED, that’s how.

And with just cause.

Unfortunately, wallowing in depression doesn’t get us anywhere—and doesn’t get the animals anywhere—so it’s in our best interest to find a way to relieve both our suffering and theirs without breaking the bank or giving up our lives. Below are four steps you can take daily if you’re one of the folks who suffer from depression due to the status of animals in our society.

(Obviously, if you’re suffering from deep depression or are having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, it’s important to reach out for emergency medical help.)

Give yourself even an hour a day with these methods and I strongly believe within a month you will be moving in a positive direction.

1. Tap to Release Negative Energy

I’m a big fan of Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique), because I can do it on my own, I don’t have to work with a therapist or a facilitator, and IT WORKS for me. In fact, according to the founder of tapping, Gary Craig, there are few people he hasn’t been able to help with this method. Luckily for you (and me!), he offers a completely free course on tapping on his website at http://www.emofree.com.

Tapping works with the body’s meridians to release the pain we hold inside. Given that most of us like to pretend that the negative doesn’t exist, we tend to deny the pain and so our body continues to hold onto it, mostly on a subconscious level and within our cells. But tapping daily can bring relief from this pain and even cruise you past childhood emotional injuries that have been holding you back forever. Try it! You can do it while you’re walking the dog, driving to work, even watching TV if you’re feeling down but too desperate to make a big effort.

Tap along here with me for a sneak peak at tapping for depression, and get an idea of what all it entails (hint, it’s easy and simple!):

2. After you Tap to Release the Negative, Bring the Positive Back into Your Life

Hopefully after tapping you’re (at least temporarily) an emotional blank slate. Now is the moment to bring the positive back into your life and heart. Think of a time when you were REALLY HAPPY. During that one special moment you—without even realizing it— held your heart wide open and ready to receive good things.

This is a vulnerable place for us to be, and so we often shut that valve off in order to protect ourselves. But the more and the longer we can keep it open, the better chance we have of bringing ourselves to a more positive place.

So picture that moment, open your heart, and try to hold it open and envision yourself receiving positive events in your life for at least 60 seconds. Smile! Remember, you ARE worthy of good things, just like every other human on the planet.

3. Make a Goal for Yourself

If you were ready and willing to go for your BIG DREAM, what would that look like? Would you build an animal rescue? An animal activist organization? Would you volunteer and become more involved in the day to day world of work for the animals?

Take out your BIG DREAM. Shine it up. And sit it beside your computer. Because now you have a goal, something to work toward, and you’re not going to let depression stop you.

4. Every Day, Take One Baby Step Toward That Goal

I remember when I started Dogs Deserve Better in 2002. I knew I wanted to take a stand, but I was TERRIFIED. I promised myself I’d take five steps toward my goal before the end of the year.

But guess what? Once I got going, I was taking a step toward it every day.

You can do that too. Take one teeny tiny step toward your goal each and every day. If that means you make one phone call? Good. Do one google search on something you’re trying to understand? Great.

Feeling depressed that day and afraid of failing? Do it anyway. Make yourself take the one step.

You’ll be amazed at how you’ll feel afterward! And soon you’ll be adding up all those steps to making a REAL DIFFERENCE for the animals.

P.S. I’m in no way making light of depression, and am well-aware it’s a continual struggle for those who suffer with it. I grew up with a depressed parent, and always thought it was ‘normal’—which meant it became part of my life, too. I offer you these tips if you want to crawl out of the abyss of that kind of pain to make a difference. Sometimes having something to focus on outside of ourselves is the biggest boon we can receive. I wish you all the very best that life has to offer, and the strength to continue your path toward wellness.

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues. To book a one-on-one session with Ms. Thayne, visit the website at http://www.whochainsyou.com/activism.html.

Holiday Bullying around Food Choices Ends in Depression for Many Vegans and Vegetarians

metuna.jpg

Author Tamira Thayne with her cat, Tuna

For many of us who choose not to eat animals, the holidays can turn into a special kind of hades, one beyond the normal ‘time spent with your crazy family’ insanity.

We often feel forced to choose between two less than stellar options: eat with our families, where odds are good we will be made fun of or put down for our beliefs—all while being forced to dine with a dead carcass smack dab in the middle of the table—or go it alone at the ‘happiest time of the year.’

Not great options.

When I first became a vegetarian fourteen years ago, I attended a seminar at one of the animal conferences about this very subject, and I remember clearly the speaker encouraging us not to hold ourselves separate from our families at the holidays. He reasoned that we could be an example for them and educate just by being ourselves, showing them we weren’t ‘crazy animal people’ and hopefully then they too will make more humane choices.

The advice made sense to me, even though it didn’t sound like fun. I really struggled with having to sit at the table with a turkey carcass and pretend like it didn’t affect me.

But I did it, and I pushed my personal feelings aside year after year. I’m here to report that I have not ‘won over’ a single family member, and remain the sole vegetarian/vegan in my family. (I eat about 85% vegan and 15% vegetarian meals.) I am married to a man who eats meat, and both of my children eat meat. Every member of my extended family on all sides eats meat.

I am truly alone in my choice.

And me putting my pain to the side and eating with them for years has not changed a single mind.

This year was particularly brutal for me, though, and may have forced me to reconsider following this gentleman’s advice, for my own emotional well-being.

If you too had a tough holiday season, I feel for you, and share your suffering.

If I end up unhappy and crying and/or seething with anger at a holiday ‘celebration’, is that really to anyone’s benefit? Is it to your benefit to end up the same way by forcing yourself to interact with people who don’t understand or support you?

I checked in with a few other vegans I know for their thoughts.

tearswerehumancoverloAuthor Heather Leughmyer told me her vegan family unit chose to eat only in the company of other vegans on Thanksgiving, and therefore there was no pain, no turmoil.

One of my Facebook friends drew her own line in the sand the other day with the following one-sentence post: “If you ate ham for Christmas, please unfriend me now.”

Her stand engendered the usual outpouring of “you’ll never win people over with this attitude” kind of responses; and maybe from a logical standpoint I can agree with them.

But our feelings are not always logical.

And maybe there comes a time when you have to take care of YOU, and YOU can no longer stomach the pain of hanging around those who believe animals are here for humans to use and abuse.

Subjecting yourself to bullying at the hands of loved-ones at the holidays—in some perhaps misguided effort to seem ‘normal’—isn’t healthy, and often leads to depression and feelings of isolation.

No one deserves to suffer for the simple act of making a humane choice with their eating habits.

At a time when bullying is at an all-time high in America, family members who tend to be bombastic by nature are feeling more empowered, and are apt to make easy targets of vegetarian and vegan family members.

I experienced this targeting while dining with extended family this year. The two women in the family went out of their way to make me special vegan food, which I didn’t expect but greatly appreciated. I was deeply touched by their kindness.

But the husband, who had coincidentally voted for Trump, went out of his way to put me down. First he told my son a ‘joke’ about vegetarians, supposedly behind my back, but making sure that I heard him. I felt belittled and shamed, and managed not to cry only by pushing my feelings down. And having another drink.

Then he told me if I didn’t want to be the only vegetarian at the table I should start eating meat again.

By this time I’d had enough. We had words, and then the whole family finished their dinners in awkward silence.

I won’t go back.

If forcing yourself to be with family only results in you feeling more pain, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to make yourself more important next year. Take Heather’s advice, find a new family of vegans to spend the holidays with, or go it alone.

Sometimes being alone isn’t lonely. It’s peaceful, healing, and calm.

I think that’s what I’ll be doing next year.

—Tamira Ci Thayne

Tamira is the founder of Who Chains You Books, and the author of Foster Doggie Insanity and Capitol in Chains. She is an animal activist and ordained minister, best-known as the pioneer of the anti-tethering movement in America. Tamira founded and ran Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit advocating for chained dogs, from 2002-2015.

If Your Tears Were Human: A Collection of Poetry for Animals in Agriculture

tearswerehumancoverloWho Chains You Books announces our October new release: If Your Tears Were Human—A Collection of Poetry for Animals in Agriculture by Heather Leughmyer.

If Your Tears Were Human: A Collection of Poetry for Animals in Agriculture is an intensely moving and powerful collection of 25 verses written by Heather Leughmyer and paired with striking photographic images from Vanessa Sarges.

Each year, billions of land animals are raised and killed for their meat, eggs, and milk. To the agricultural industry, they are commodities, dollar signs. But to a growing number of people from all walks of life, these precious souls have purpose beyond our palates. They are unique individuals who experience pleasure and pain. They are companions, they are teachers, and they bring beauty and diversity to the planet we all share.

The poems included in this book were inspired by animals, people and events the author encountered in her activism for animals. Although she has been deeply disturbed by the magnitude of human cruelty toward these innocent beings, she has been just as deeply touched by the people who have bravely protested these injustices and who work relentlessly to make this world a kinder place. These are her heroes; the rebels, the bunny-huggers, those with the largest hearts and the softest souls. These poems honor them and the animals they serve.

The book is available from Amazon and 3rd party booksellers, on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited for those members, and from our CreateSpace site at the below links.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Kindle | Buy from Createspace and $1 Will be Donated to Unchained Melodies Dog Rescue

About the Author:

me

Heather Leughmyer graduated from Indiana-Purdue University with a B.A. in English Writing and Linguistics. She is a dedicated vegan, animal rights activist and animal rescuer. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she has advocated for animals. By telling their stories and illustrating their pain she hopes to touch a few hearts and change a few minds with her words. She lives in Columbia City, Indiana, with her husband, daughter and several animal companions.

About the Photographer:

img_2741-2Vanessa Sarges wanted to make more of a contribution to Animal Rights, and felt that there was no better way to do so than to document their lives through her photography.

She began bearing witness with Toronto Pig Save and capturing the souls who were being transported to slaughter and the brave activists bearing witness with her. Although taking those photos is both sad and infuriating, many people have contacted Vanessa to say that her photos were the turning point of their lives and that they were transitioning to a vegan lifestyle as a result.

Vanessa and Heather have been friends for many years and Vanessa has taken great inspiration from their friendship and from Heather’s profound poetry. Vanessa was honoured to be asked to contribute to If Your Tears were Human.

The book is available from Amazon and 3rd party booksellers, on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited for those members, and from our CreateSpace site at the below links.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on Kindle | Buy from Createspace and $1 Will be Donated to Unchained Melodies Dog Rescue