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Why A Farmed Animal Sanctuary Shouldn’t Breed Residents

Photo by Andrew Wulf on Unsplash

Farmed animal sanctuaries come in many shapes, sizes, and species mixes, but there are many common threads that link them together. One of the most critical elements that defines a farmed animal sanctuary versus a petting zoo or a farm is that sanctuaries do not, and should not breed animals or allow their residents to become pregnant incidentally. Many well-meaning visitors may be excited or even expect to eventually meet newborn residents upon learning about your organization, without having considered the reasoning behind a “no-breeding” philosophy.

The Overwhelming Need For Sanctuary

Farmed animal species number in the billions worldwide. The vast majority of these animals are systematically bred and slaughtered within a fraction of their natural lifespans, regardless of whether they’re in an industrial farm or a more “humane” setting. There is no shortage of animals in desperate situations who could be taken in by compassionate sanctuaries that have the capacity to provide lifelong care for them. To intentionally breed more animals is not only unnecessary, but it also reduces a sanctuary’s ability to take in an already existing animal that may have nowhere else to go.

Breeding Is Exploitation

An animal sanctuary should be a place of non-exploitation, which means not using animals as a means of serving humans. Breeding residents does not help them; it merely perpetuates the idea that animals exist primarily for human entertainment and enjoyment. In addition, pregnancy is fraught with complications and dangers for all species, and only introduces risk to residents who may already be recovering from a variety of acute or lifelong health challenges. Many sanctuary residents themselves have been forced into multiple pregnancies before arriving at their new home, which only makes an additional pregnancy more dangerous. Caring for a baby resident is complex and requires expert care and attention to ensure they have the best health outcomes possible.

Responsible Policies For Care

For the above reasons, sanctuary residents should all be spayed or neutered if possible and recommended by a veterinarian upon arrival at a sanctuary; as with domestic cats and dogs, there are many health benefits to the practice beyond avoiding accidental pregnancies; for many species (such as pigs), it is a critical tool for their health. Female birds that are kept in mixed-sex pairs should either be implanted or have eggs be cracked or removed from their habitats to discourage new chicks from arriving at the sanctuary.

What If A New Resident Comes In Pregnant?

Part of a sanctuary’s intake program should include pregnancy testing for female residents to prevent any surprises. It’s not uncommon for residents to come in unexpectedly pregnant; part of this resident’s care should include substantial veterinary care and monitoring to ensure that their health is protected if the pregnancy is far along. If an incoming resident is early on in their pregnancy, some sanctuaries choose to administer Lutalyse to induce miscarriage. This decision ultimately depends on an individual sanctuary’s Philosophy of Care.

While it is inspiring and heartwarming to see young animals being able to naturally bond and grow up with their mother, it is imperative to continue to respect each residents’ boundaries and not unintentionally treat a baby like a photo opportunity or a prop. Younger residents have fragile immune systems and can spread illnesses to others, including humans, and must be treated with great care. They also must be socialized properly (rather than being treated like a puppy) to prevent potentially dangerous behavioral issues as they grow!

Updated on July 23, 2019

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