Stephanie Carrobourg organizer Walk for Farm Animals

‘If we don’t subject our dogs or cats to such cruelty why is it acceptable for farm animals?’

What is the Walk for Farm Animals on October 9?

It’s more of an awareness walk than a protest. It’s trying to get it on the minds of people of Calgary about more farm animal rights. We’re just going to walk around Kensington Prince’s Island Park and back have some tables set up from local sanctuaries and give out vegan literature recipes and information about factory farming.

What is wrong with factory farming?

The problem with factory farming is that animals used for food are treated like as if they don’t have the capacity to think or experience sadness or fear. These animals are just as intelligent as our pets and sometimes more so. Yet they are abused confined and never have the chance to express themselves as they naturally would. If we don’t subject our dogs or cats to such cruelty why is it acceptable for farm animals?

What kind of cruelty are you talking about?

Well there was a dairy farm in the U.S. where a worker was punching baby calves and spearing them with sharp objects. That was taped for months undercover by Mercy for Animals. And he walked away from all the charges; things like that.

Documentaries such as Food Inc. really focus on problems there.

I think that’s part of the problem that there’s not a lot of it going on in Canada so you assume it’s not happening here.

Is there evidence that it is to that extent?

I think what we have the most evidence of is horse slaughtering. It seems like in Canada there are more videos of that.

What’s the horse slaughtering about?

There was a ban in 2007 in the U.S. to having horses slaughtered for human consumption so now they’re being shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada. There’s one out by Fort MacLeod. Now they’re killing them in Canada to send the meat over to Europe including racehorses people’s pets and just horses that are no longer needed. They don’t have behavioural problems they’re just not wanted anymore.

Is horsemeat considered a delicacy in Europe?

I guess 70 per cent is going to Europe and some of it is going to Quebec. It’s not sticking around here. It doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense considering people around here seem to love horses or at least that’s the perception and this is happening near Calgary.

Is this the first walk in Calgary?

It’s the first in Alberta. They’ve had them in B.C. and Ontario before but this is the first one in Calgary. Hopefully next year we’ll expand to Edmonton. We have a few Edmontonians coming; they are already registered.

How did you get involved in this?

I interned at Farm Sanctuary which is putting on the Walk for Farm Animals in the summer of 2009. I read the founder of Farm Sanctuary Gene Baur’s book Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food. Before then I was vegetarian then a vegan after.

Vegetarianism is a bit of a hard sell in Alberta. Are you aiming for people to take that route?

I definitely don’t think you can shove it down anybody’s throat. That’s something no one will want to accept. But I think it’s our responsibility to care about what’s going on in our world because ignorance is not bliss. While at the grocery store it would be good to think: “Today I’m going to cut back on this or buy something more local and put more thought into where our food is coming from instead of blindly go about it.”

Will farm animals be marching along too?

No. We thought about that but we thought it might send the wrong message. You don’t want to have them being afraid while walking around the city.

I don’t imagine it would play out too well if a cow got spooked and hit by a car.

Yeah if one little bad thing happens people want to write off everything you did that was good. You have to be so careful.

How many people do you have registered so far?

Online about 20 people and about the same amount off-line. Hopefully we’ll pick up some more in the last few days.

Do people have to register to participate?

If this is something someone cares about and the $20 is keeping them from coming I definitely don’t want that. Anybody who cares about this issue and wants more information can walk for sure.