Friday, February 10, 2012

Goodbye, Hope

I've been busy around here lately and even though there is much to share on the blog, I simply haven't had the time to sit down and write it all down. Knowing me, that means it might never happen, but I digress. Something stopped me in my tracks tonight, literally. I was walking between rooms when my wife looked up from her phone and said "Hope died." I stopped mid-step and my head spun around as I asked "What?!"

If you've been following the blog and my projects for a while, you know that I had started work on a documentary about the farm animal rescue For The Animals Sanctuary in NJ. I had met the owners by chance through mutual friends, and immediately wanted to know more about the place and went out to visit. I got to know some of the animals and people there, and learned their incredible stories. I decided I wanted to help get the word out by producing a documentary around them. We had started filming and realized it was going to be a bigger undertaking than I could afford on my own, and so we started asking for donations. Some good people helped us out and we continued. About a year ago, filming was put on hold because of the weather, and some time later there were some changes in personnel, so as of right now we are still waiting for word on when the dust is settled enough to resume work on the project.

One of the most amazing animals there was Hope. Hope was a spent dairy cow, which basically means that she had been artificially inseminated and impregnated (That's how the dairy industry gets milk. Cows are mammals, they need to be pregnant to produce milk) so many times that her body was no longer physically able to perform the way the industry needed her to. She was rescued from slaughter by a good samaritan who would visit the farm she belonged to and had grown attached to her. This woman called around until she found a home for her, and that's how Hope wound up with my friends at For The Animals Sanctuary.

Her life of constantly being raped, having her days-old babies kidnapped for veal, and her baby's milk pumped out of her while she herself was pumped full of hormones and antibiotics left her, like many other milk production cows, with calcium deficiencies that lead to bone density loss, making her prone to fractures. I know for a long time they were very worried that if during a harsh winter she accidentally fell, it could break her hips beyond repair and she'd no longer be able to get up and walk, and be in constant excruciating pain. At this time, I still don't know exactly what happened, as is the norm for finding out something like this through a Facebook update. I want to allow my friends the time they need to deal with the situation, as it just happened today, before calling, but I do hope to hear from them so I can get the whole story.

When I first met Hope, the first thing I noticed was her size. She was huge. Not fat, just large. Hope was very tall, and very powerful, and yet was as gentle as could be. If you walked up to her and said hello, she would let you rub her face, and if you touched her nose she would lick your hand - her own way of saying "Hello".

Hope was going to be a major part of the documentary we were making, as she was the first production cow that they had rescued and her story, while typical of the industry, would stand out to viewers who didn't know what happened. Hope's life started with constant misery, torture, enslavement, and exploitation, but at least I know that for the last few years she finally knew love, compassion, and admiration. It won't be the same visiting the sanctuary without her there, but she died amongst friends, rather than in a slaughterhouse, being prodded to follow the fencing and gates that would lead her and hundreds like her to their death, all the while listening to the screams and cries of their bovine friends and siblings. All cows should be so lucky to go the way I'm sure Hope did, but instead she's a perfect example of why this cruel and disgusting industry needs to stop. Every day, humans abuse and murder thousands of nameless "Hopes" because they're told that it does a body good. Whose body? Our body? The cow's body? How about nobody.

One of my favorite pieces of footage of Hope will live on forever in a music video I created for Monica Richards' "Like Animals" cover. I used footage from the sanctuary in that video and there's a shot of the camera zooming into her eye. You can watch the video below to see it. There is also another scene where she is laying in her barn and she rests her head down.

If anyone is interested in making a donation to For The Animals Sanctuary, they can always use the help. Just follow this link to pitch in. It costs a fortune to house and feed these animals, so every little bit helps.

R.I.P. Hope

More soon,