Farm for furry friends
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.