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May 26, 2019

A Holy Week prayer for the animals

April 20, 2019

We have some new residents for spring here at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. A new little sheep family saved from a severe neglect case — mother Angela and lambs Ethan and Michaela.

Ethan and Michaela are the age that Easter and Passover lambs are right now. Just a few weeks old, curious about everything around them and very playful.

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Sheep Family (Rachel McCrystal)

Mother sheep are kind and attentive. Angela keeps an eye on her babies here, even though they are in a small area that is completely safe. She bleats and calls to them when they wander more than a few feet away. They all sleep curled up together.

Mother sheep on farms are no different. But they only have a short time with their new babies every year. The lambs will then be sorted out from the herd, taken from their mothers who bleat and cry. The lambs, who are still so leggy and fuzzy, are put on transport trucks and sent to be brutally killed, taken apart and sold in pieces.

They will never see a summer.

We all know that nonhuman animals grieve. We know that they love and care for each other. We observe true emotions and attachment between the residents here at the Sanctuary. These relationships and feelings are as real as our own, as is their fear and suffering.

But societally and culturally, we don’t consider their pain. And so, this month, millions of lambs will be killed for Easter and Passover. And millions of mother sheep will be traumatized; for some, this won’t be the first or last time either. They will have several lambs taken from them before they too are killed.

Cultural traditions that don’t serve the causes of justice and empathy shouldn’t be continued. There is no familiarity, no nostalgia, no religious habit that can justify taking a baby away from its mother and killing it.

We are grateful to be able to care for this new little family here at Woodstock Sanctuary, where they will live out their entire lives together. But theirs is a story of an exception. There are so many more stories of sheep exploited, killed, and then forgotten for mere cultural tradition. We should consider those stories and have empathy for those beings whose lives and families are our in our hands.

McCrystal is executive director of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary.

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