All around the world, women are making a huge difference for animals. Let these five inspire you!
Unbound Project is a multimedia documentary project created by acclaimed photographer Jo-Anne McArthur and Dr Keri Cronin of the Department of Visual Arts, Brock University. It celebrates women on the frontline of animal advocacy – from anti-poaching rangers to lawyers, from activists to scientists.
It all began when, aged eight, Theo picked up an anti-vivisection magazine and came across a photo of a dog with his head weakly hung across the bars of his wooden cage. A sign above him read: ‘No food. Just water.’ He was being used in a starvation experiment.
‘I can still see his face,’ she recalls. ‘I always will. That was perhaps my big bang.’
Soon she was donating her lunch money to help animals in labs.
Theo had plans to go to veterinary school, but the course required live animal dissection, and so instead she became a licensed psychologist. This gave her enough spare time for activism, and she joined the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), a national organisation, first as a board member, and later as its executive director.
With Theo at the helm, NEAVS persuaded the first veterinary school to end ‘terminal surgery labs’ in which dogs were killed, spearheaded the campaign that stopped chimpanzee research in the United States, and rescued hundreds of animals from lives of torture. Each is an incredible achievement. Together, they constitute an extraordinary step forward for the animal protection movement.
What has kept her fighting for so long?
‘You have to be the kind of person who won’t take no for an answer. When you do this kind of work, it’s war. There’s a war against animals, and if you’re a soldier trying to stop it, you’re going to see a lot of bodies, and many days you’re going to feel powerless to help them, and that’s the worst feeling,’ she says.
‘But if you’ve got moxie, you just get up, go back and keep doing it and doing it.’
To read more, visit: https://unboundproject.org/theodora-capaldo/
Haile is a vegan activist and social media influencer, and, at just 18 years old, is the youngest Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach in the United States.
Not only that, she founded the non-profit The Happy Org when she was 12 years old to bring plant-based nutritional education to youth in some of the country’s most underserved communities and to empower young people and their families to make health and lifestyle choices that are good for them, for animals, and for the planet. She still serves as its CEO.
Her drive, her positivity and incredible knowledge have brought her a platform from which to spread her powerful message. She has been featured on CNN, Buzzfeed, MTV and more.
The Happy Org provides nutrition and humane education to young people through cooking classes, summer camps, and in-school programmes, and through this work, Haile is improving individual health outcomes and, in turn, public health outcomes for entire communities.
It’s quite a feat for anyone; it’s an incredible feat for someone who is not yet out of her teens. But we can each have an impact, she says, just by being vegan.
‘Knowing that I can contribute positively to the changing narrative surrounding veganism and also that every dish I order, every trip to the grocery store I make, and every bite I take makes a difference and a statement to the world, means everything to me.’
To learn more about Haile’s work, visit: https://www.thehappyorg.org/
Founder of the organisation Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) Cora has dedicated herself to helping animals across Johannesburg’s townships for nearly three decades. It began in 1991, back when she was a board member for the local SPCA, before South Africa’s first democratic elections and in the midst of apartheid and a vicious civil war.
After massacres, Cora would visit their scenes to collect the animals who had been left behind, injured and starving but she learned quickly, that if you want to help animals, you have to help humans, too.
On the way to bring food to a man who is dying of AIDS, Cora might rescue a dog who has been left for dead on the side of a road. On her way to talk to the police about illegally sold rat poison, she might hear about a toddler in need of a ride to a hospital after being badly burned by a cooking fire. Whenever her phone rings – suicidal children, dogs with all four legs broken, alcoholic rampages – Cora’s answer is usually the same: ‘I’m coming’.
Today, CLAW’s has a clinic, a shelter and mobile clinics in the townships. It also distributes food, runs community gardens, assists child-headed households, and teaches people how to care for the sick and dying.
Cora is technically retired now, but all who know her say that it’s is hard to imagine her ever stopping her work in the townships.
Why does she do it?
‘It was an accident,’ she says. ‘I saw it, and once I did, I couldn’t turn away.’
Read more at: https://unboundproject.org/cora-bailey/
Lumka is an emergency first responder for Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) in South Africa, which brings her face to face with dire suffering on an almost daily basis.
She is often called to homes where the occupants are living in extreme poverty and frequently encounters situations where both a human caregiver and their dog are ‘in a terrible state’ because there is not enough food to go around. In these situations, she recognises the need for compassion and takes practical steps to help the people too, like distributing food parcels.
In South Africa it is common for people to keep dogs for security reasons and she has seen many instances where dogs are deliberately kept underfed in the hopes that they would then, in turn, act as better guard dogs. But, Lumka tells them, you can’t expect dogs to act as security if they are hungry. She encourages people who leave their dogs tied up outside to bring them in.
‘How is a dog supposed to protect you from outside?’ she asks, ‘You are in the house, so isn’t it better to have the dog in there with you?’
Lumka was taught compassion for animals when she was young by her father, and – having lived with many rescued animals – she tries to show people how to pay attention to animals’ needs and what they are trying to communicate.
She says: ‘We just need to look deep in to them, to understand their feelings and to listen to them.’
Read more at: https://unboundproject.org/lumka-golintete/
With more than one hundred dogs in her shelter outside Kathmandu, it is hard to imagine that Sneha once did not even like dogs. She did not want her husband to bring dogs into their home but insisted that, if he did, they must come from a breeder, and not from the streets.
It was only when one of those puppies, a dog named Zara, found her way into Sneha’s heart that everything changed, and so when Sneha came home from work one day to find a neighbour had poisoned Zara, Sneha was devastated. ‘In Hindu culture, when a family member dies, we don’t eat anything for 13 days. I did this for my dog.’
Zara’s death changed the way Sneha saw the city’s street dogs. She started feeding them and paying for space at a local kennels. Within a month, the kennel was full but the animals’ need was still so great. Sneha sold a house she owned, and set up Sneha’s Care.
Today, Sneha’s Care has a team of veterinarians and technicians, and welcomes volunteers from around the world. Some dogs will live their whole lives at the shelter, while others are found forever homes.
It didn’t end there. Sneha began to see all animals in a new light and became vegan. She is now one of Nepal’s most vocal and visible animal advocates, and has successfully campaigned for the introduction of the country’s first animal welfare laws.
‘The most important thing is to have humanity,’ she says. ‘I learned humanity from these animals. These animals taught me everything.’
Read more at: https://unboundproject.org/sneha-shrestha/
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