How it all began
We took a trip to Egypt in 2003/2004 and what we saw there horrified us and changed the way we thought about animals forever. The treatment of animals, in particular working animals like donkeys and horses was painful to watch. They were worked for long hours, in terrible heat with little regard for their well being. We saw donkeys fall down in traffic due to the heavy loads they were carrying only to be yanked back up to their feet or beaten. We saw donkeys with wounds on their backs where their carts had worn away their flesh. At the Giza pyramids we saw a donkey being fed only cardboard. We visited two of the Brook Animal Hospitals and saw many donkeys and horses in terrible condition with large skin and facial wounds and broken bones after road accidents. We donated what money we had to assist the vets to provide treatment for the animals. Unfortunately the animals once treated are then given back to their owners who continue to work them.
From that moment on we decided that we would do what we could to help animals in our area. We had already purchased some land and kept a look out for some animals. It started with a couple of donkeys, a steer named Milton and 3 goats and quickly grew from there. It also included a change to our diet and lifestyle. We had been vegetarian for a number of years but it was time to embrace a vegan diet. Reading Peter Singer’s ‘Animal Liberation” certainly helped us make the change.
The cruelty in Egypt was blatant and in the open. The cruelty in this country is concealed. It takes place in suburban backyards where dogs are kept in abysmal conditions and ignored and not kept as part of a family or ‘pack’, which is their natural environment. Cats are not de-sexed leaving behind countless litters that are dumped and become feral, hens live in factory farm environments, calves are removed from their mothers so that the milk industry can provide consumers with a litre of milk. Birds are kept in cages that are too small, ignored and left to become bored and engage in self harming behaviours. Rabbits and guinea pigs are left to languish alone in hutches with no companionship, room to move or proper nutritional care.
People fail to have their animals vaccinated which results in terrible illnesses such as parvo in dogs and calici virus which will kill rabbits. Ponies are ignored and develop bad behaviours which makes them difficult to deal with and eventually unwanted. Dogs are overbred because people like to have a litter of puppies, not stopping to consider the thousands of dogs killed in shelters Australia wide because they cannot find a home. Slaughter houses, which we refer to as abbatoirs because it sounds nicer, are places of death so that people can eat the flesh of cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys etc. The violence in these houses of slaughter has been well documented and filmed over the years and yet people still continue to eat meat telling themselves that the meat they are eating wouldn’t have come from one of ‘those’ slaughter houses. As if there can be a slaughter house that is kind and compassionate when its aim is to kill animals and dismember them as quickly as possible for profit.
So instead of pointing the finger at the Egyptians and their cruelty we decided to take a good hard look at the cruelty in our own country and to offer a place of Sanctuary for as many animals as we could.
Big Ears is, as the word implies, a Sanctuary. We do not aim to rehome every animal, we are not interested in rehoming rates. To us the Sanctuary is their home and if we are able to find another home that is equal to the situations that the animals here live in then we will rehome an animal. Many of the Big Ears animals are here because they were unable to go anywhere else, especially the larger farm animals.
We are now home to 7 bovines, 30 cats, over 80 hens, over 100 roosters, 40 ducks, 40 geese, 260 rabbits, 12 birds, 14 goats, 9 ponies, 5 donkeys, 4 dogs, 100 turkeys, 13 pigs, 13 sheep and 1 emu.