The silencing of the lambs.
Lamusz joined our home yesterday, but the industry responsible for his birth silenced him within hours of arrival.
A frantic message hit the inbox. “Bringing a lamb, they’re really bad, be 15.” Not a second past fifteen minutes, a lamb was bundled through my front door, dwarfed by the massive green blanket wrapped around his frail body. He was limp, barely responsive, unable to stand. And as soon as I saw his beautiful brown eyes staring up at me I fell into a desperate love.
He was Lamusz.
Lamusz was found standing next to his mother. She had been dead for days, her lamb left alone by her body. No one had come to check on them. And without maternal nourishment and care, his umbilicus had rapidly become infected and necrotic. As he remained by his dead mother’s side, Lamusz became dehydrated and hypoglycemic. The infection spread into his young body. He became weak and fevered, and was near dead when found.
We set to work, administering pain relief, specialist hydrating fluids, and glucose. He rallied, as the symptoms of the infection were alleviated. He appeared to be stabilising, ready for the antibiotics that would help him fight the infection. But we couldn’t see inside his body, we couldn’t see the extent of the damage already done.
Lamusz stood and walked with help, his eyes were brighter, he began trying to bleat, perhaps calling to his mother. He nuzzled us, looking for the milk which we painstakingly dripped into his mouth so as not to flood his heaving lungs. Sated, he settled into my arms, and rested.
He closed his eyes. He quieted in sleep.
Then he stopped breathing.
I could feel his heart beating under my hand still and tried desperately to wake him. Massaging his chest, I tried mouth to mouth to inflate his lungs, but it was too late.
His arrival had been chaotic. But his death, that was silent except for the words begging him to fight that tumbled incoherently from my mouth. Please. Stay. Your mum wants you to stay. You need to fight.
And then the silent tears that dripped from my face into his soft white wool.
Lamusz was dead.
For those of us who have been involved in the rescue of animals from industries of exploitation it is an all too familiar experience. Whether the chickens whose bodies grow too fast for their own health and survival, the rabbits bred with congenital heart defects by the fur and flesh industry, or the lambs abandoned in the winter paddocks by farmers who view them as profit losses not as individuals. These industries kill them in the end, whether in the cages or the paddocks, in the slaughterhouses, or in the loving arms of their rescuers.
The industry silences them all.
Lamusz will be buried at our home, and a tree will be planted over his body. Every spring, the flowers and fruits of the tree will bring Lamusz back to us, blossoming in the bright sunshine as he deserved to do in life.
The truth is I don’t know how to stop this from happening. I don’t know how to topple these vast industries that continue to breed more and more like Lamusz, that continue to perpetuate extreme harm against exploited bodies. Industries that are so successful at silencing the voices of trillions of animals worldwide every day, every year.
I have been involved in activism for other animals for nearly a decade now. There is nothing I have not done in pursuit of justice for animals. I have begged and pleaded. I have engaged in street outreach, banner drops, protest rallies. I have rescued animals, taken in countless hopeless cases. I have spoken at festivals, held workshops, written countless posts online, articles, even a book. I have broken the law, occupied slaughterhouses, filmed on farms, locked on to machinery, been arrested. I have facilitated the liberation of animals incarcerated by industry. And none of this saved Lamusz. Nor the countless other animals who find their way to the doorstep of rescuers everywhere to become imprinted on our hearts forever.
I have also watched the desperation of vegans as they post online seeking a plant-based KitKat, a pizza, a new line of ice cream. The flood of viral hashtags in pursuit of products literally dwarfs those demanding direct justice for other animals like Lamusz. Sometimes it feels as though other animals do not exist beyond vague conceptualisations within their own movement. They are numbers and statistics, even to those of us who are vegan.
Capitalism, and its primary tool of consumerism, is all too effective in silencing the individuals most harmed by it, human and non-human alike.
No, I don’t know how to make this stop. But I do hold in my very being the words Regan Russel spoke, before she was killed by a truck driver who saw her peaceful presence at a slaughterhouse vigil as reason to commit violence against her. She said “I’m trying. I don’t know if it does any good. But I know doing nothing does no good.”
And so, once again, I write a eulogy for someone I tried to help but could not. Once again I share their story to the world, hoping that even one person reads these words and is inspired to act. Once again, I beg and I plead.
Please. Think of Lamusz next time you wish to buy the flesh or fur of his kin. Think of him when you pass by the paddocks and fields where mothers just like his strive to raise their babies. Think about your complicity in this system.
Please. Think of Lamusz next time you allow the capitalist ploy of consumerism to overtake your reason. Think of him when you decide consuming is more important than trying, than showing up to provide a platform for the silenced voices calling out for help.
Think of him.
I shall think of him when the spring flowers bloom, and see his face in the stars with all those gone before.
And then I shall try.