Campaign director Eliot Pryor is moving on after six years with SAFE.
A question I have sometimes been asked in my work is, how do I deal with all the bad news? How do I deal with the constant number of stories of animal cruelty, the daily cruelty of factory farming and the overwhelming challenge of making changes step by step?
It’s true, even after six years, some days I learn something new I wish I hadn’t known. There are so many ways animals are manipulated in this country it can seem like a horror movie. I will spare you the examples.
However for me having the chance to work as a campaigner for SAFE has been for me the way to be positive about it – I’ve been lucky to have had this opportunity to be part of change and be an activist within my working life. While change can seem slow I also feel we’re right in the middle of progress, and we have our finger on the pulse of animal welfare and rights issues in New Zealand. It’s been a huge opportunity to meet and work with lots of different people, and to see the effect of SAFE’s campaigns infiltrating New Zealand culture and feeding back to us in different ways.
I must say it has been a job with great work stories. While mostly just like any office job, there have been many different situations when I have thought, ‘in no other job!’ I’m thinking of the times hugging complete strangers wearing a yellow fluffy chicken costume on Queen Street on ‘World Hug a Vegetarian Day’; practicing climbing tripods for the colony cage protest last year; digging a memorial garden for chickens raised in the meat industry taken from factory farms; receiving an email from Mike King out of the blue in early 2009 asking if he could meet with SAFE.
Even answering the phone each day can be an adventure not knowing who will be on the line or which issue they’ll be calling about. One moment we’re talking about chickens in cages, the next its elephants in zoos, or someone asking where you can buy humane mousetraps.
I’ve especially enjoyed working with the volunteers in so many different ways, on different campaigns. These are the people who dedicate their free time for a day, or over many years, and it always continues to impress me.
SAFE is a unique organisation that does work no other organisation can do, speaking for all animals, whether cute or ugly, whether pet or just a number, whether wild or farmed. SAFE speaks to all New Zealanders, from politicians to business people, from retailers to consumers.
We are living in a time when animals are starting to be recognised as the amazing creatures they are, and science is catching up to the reality we don’t really know much about them. They communicate but we can’t talk to them, they are intelligent but we don’t know what they’re thinking, they suffer pain and have emotions, but we don’t know how they feel.
As a nation financially dependent on animal production New Zealand has a long way to go finding a position where its conscience can be clear in terms of the treatment of animals. We live in a society with conflicting messages of love and hate depending on the species. But there is also a huge opportunity to take a step forward for ourselves and to recognise that treating animals fairly is better for us all – compassion for animals means we can become better human beings.
(Outgoing) Campaign Director