Two farmed animal sanctuaries—one in Minnesota and one in California—were recently denied veterinary care because of the owners’ stance on animal agriculture. Two veterinary clinics refused to treat a steer named Pete (pictured) at Minnesota-based Spring Farm Sanctuary (SFS) after Pete slipped on ice and hurt himself. SFS Director Robin Johnson called the Lester Prairie Veterinary Clinic but was told the vet who usually attended the SFS animals no longer works there. “We do not come out there for emergencies—you are just too far away,” the clinic told Johnson. “We’re also not really in agreement with the advertisements that are posted there. So we are not the vet there any longer.” The ads the clinic was referring to are SFS’s educational posters that reveal facts about animal agriculture such as the routine practice of separating calves from their mothers at dairy farms. When Johnson explained that Pete’s situation was an emergency, the response she received was that Lester Prairie only treats “animals that feed people” and that she should try another clinic instead. When Johnson contacted veterinary clinic the Buffalo Equine, that clinic also refused to help. Johnson was told that if Pete wasn’t being raised to be slaughtered, they weren’t going to save his life. Fortunately, SFS volunteers were able to help Pete by putting down some sand and padding so he was able to regain his footing.
A similar incident recently occurred at California-based Rancho Compasión, whose owner, food entrepreneur Miyoko Schinner, was told by her veterinary clinic that they will no longer service her santuary’s animals. The trigger, Schinner told VegNews, was an article Schinner wrote about animal agriculture, entitled “Being on the Right Side of History,” in her local newspaper, the Point Reyes Light. “The vet said that I compared animal agriculture to slavery (which I did not), and he felt that it was disrespectful to the local community and he didn’t want to be associated with me,” Schinner said. “My article was not to condemn but simply to get people to think about social justice issues.” While the article in question did mention racism (and sexism), at the core, it asked the reader to consider speciesism as a social-justice issue that must be acknowledged within the historical context of oppression. “I have always maintained an openness to talking to any member of animal agriculture. But I will continue to bring the issues of social injustice to light,” Schinner said. Schinner believes vegan companies are a possible solution for farmers who are struggling in the animal agriculture business, who could transition to cultivating other crops, such as supplying the organic potatoes and legumes she uses for her new nut-free cheese line. “I read about the other sanctuary going through the same issue,” Schinner said. “Very sad.”