Farm for furry friends

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PETS - Luke Bow­den Any­one in­ter­ested in shar­ing their best friends’ sto­ries can email luke. bow­den@ news. com. au

CRADOC’S Emma Haswell doesn’t just have one or two four- legged friends, in fact, it’s more like thou­sands. Whether it’s fi nd­ing new homes for more than 2000 sur­ren­dered dogs, res­cu­ing an­i­mals of all shapes and sizes so they may live out their lives at her Bright­side Farm Sanc­tu­ary or ed­u­cat­ing school chil­dren about the wel­fare of an­i­mals, Emma and her team at Bright­side pro­vide a home for all crea­tures great and small.

Emma, to­day you’re highly vis­i­ble as an an­i­mal rights ac­tivist, but that wasn’t al­ways the case, was it?

It may be sur­pris­ing for a lot of people but I was ac­tu­ally raised on a farm in Tas­ma­nia. It wasn’t un­til about 14 years ago that I de­cided to be­come a veg­e­tar­ian. I wasn’t pre­pared any more to eat the an­i­mals on our farm so I didn’t think I should be eat­ing any other an­i­mals.

Soon af­ter that I moved to Lon­don and be­came a ve­gan while si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­com­ing an an­i­mal rights ac­tivist af­ter see­ing fi rst- hand what was hap­pen­ing to the an­i­mals that ended up on our din­ner plates. Up un­til then I was so shy and it was this [ ad­vo­cat­ing for an­i­mal’s rights] where I re­ally found my voice.

I had moved back to Aus­tralia and was liv­ing in Mel­bourne when I heard about a case of an­i­mal abuse in­volv­ing a grey­hound back here in Ho­bart – which re­ceived very lit­tle me­dia cov­er­age – so I came back to Tas­ma­nia to show the pub­lic what had hap­pened to this grey­hound. It was then I de­cided the best way to get my mes­sage across was to start a farm sanc­tu­ary that would help ed­u­cate people, es­pe­cially school chil­dren, about how we can bet­ter treat an­i­mals.

Find­ing new homes for res­cued and sur­ren­dered dogs seems to be a big part of Bright­side’s work?

In its con­cep­tion, res­cu­ing and re- hom­ing an­i­mals was never part of the dis­cus­sion. I had this idea of Bright­side hav­ing about 100 res­cued an­i­mals that would be “am­bas­sadors” of their kind and that we would run ed­u­ca­tion ses­sions at the sanc­tu­ary. We re­alised quite quickly though that there was next to no one res­cu­ing farm an­i­mals, so we just kept tak­ing them in, in­clud­ing dogs.

Since we’ve been tak­ing in sur­ren­dered dogs and re- hom­ing them, I reckon we’ve eas­ily found new homes for more than 2000 ca­nines. Through re- hom­ing the dogs, it just in­stantly grew Bright­side’s ex­po­sure be­cause people

were talk­ing about where they got their dog from and, in a cou­ple of years, we went from be­ing hardly known to hav­ing 20,000 fol­low­ers on Face­book.

I’ll usu­ally never say no to tak­ing in a sur­ren­dered dog but I won’t take a per­fectly good dog from own­ers sim­ply be­cause they are mov­ing in­ter­state, for ex­am­ple, be­cause it’s too easy for them to bring that dog to this place and be able to then leave guilt- free. Dogs that have been re­jected by other pounds or re­tired rac­ing grey­hounds are al­ways wel­come be­cause I know I’ll fi nd a new home for them.

Look­ing through Bright­side’s Face­book page, there are count­less pos­i­tive tes­ti­mo­ni­als from people that have got a dog from Bright­side. But surely many of the dogs must have ar­rived there be­cause of be­havioural is­sues?

We’ve had hun­dreds of dogs come through here with be­havioural is­sues, how­ever, I can’t ex­plain it but once they ar­rive and hang around the other an­i­mals their per­son­al­i­ties com­pletely change.

I think it’s the at­mos­phere, be­cause people come here and are like, “God, this place is awe­some!” So if people can feel that way surely the an­i­mals can too. The pack men­tal­ity in dogs works per­fectly here, the ones who have been here a while cor­rect the newer dogs who have some­thing wrong with them.

What are some of the most re­ward­ing parts of hav­ing Bright­side Sanc­tu­ary?

Get­ting a dog, which has been res­cued from a puppy farm, for ex­am­ple, and comes to us be­ing an ab­so­lutely ter­rifi ed crea­ture and fi nd­ing great hu­man be­ings who are will­ing to take a jour­ney with this scarred an­i­mal and see­ing and hear­ing about that re­la­tion­ship evolv­ing from this dog be­ing so trau­ma­tised into this won­der­ful happy dog.

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