Hi, I’m Catherine Kelaher. I’m an author, animal rescuer and animal activist. I run NSW Hen Rescue and hope my books will entertain whilst inspiring others to help make the world a kinder place. Running the hen rescue I save a lot of animals from some really horrible situations.
I am very aware of how bad things are for animals. However, I strongly believe that there is hope. By taking small actions we can make a difference. Whatever your age, your background or your skillset, there are things you can do today to help end animal cruelty.
I was born and raised in the South East of England. I used to love walking my dog, Poppy, on the Ashdown Forest (where the Winnie the Poo books are set).
I remember bottle feeding a lamb at a petting zoo when I was 8 years old. Later that evening, my Mum served lamb for dinner. That was all it took. I was vegetarian.
It was years later, when I was 16 and helping at the local animal sanctuary, that I realised saving animals was my purpose. As I spent time with animals who had been dumped or abused, I knew that something had to change.
Over the years, as I gained more knowledge about the animal ag industries (remember this was the old days, before social media) I realised that I wanted to be vegan. I couldn’t bare the thought of contributing to the animal abuse I was learning about.
Over the following years I started to get more involved in animal activism. I went to my first protest, started volunteering at an animal shelter and read more about what we do to animals.
But it was when I was caring for my Mum in 2010 that something changed for me. As I nursed her, I concentrated all my energy on making her days more comfortable. I would read to her after her vision became blurry. I would hold her when she cried. I would laugh with her. But throughout, I knew that whilst there was nothing we could do about Mum’s suffering, there was certainly something that could be done about animal suffering.
One day, Mum saw the cover of a book I was reading, ‘From Dusk til Dawn’ which details the work of the ALF in the 90s. The cover showed a photo of a baby monkey named Britches. He had his eyes sewn shut in a lab as part of a horrific sensory deprivation experiment. In the photo we see an activist tenderly holding Britches. He was safe thanks to them. Later a vet would unsew his eyes and he would be nursed back to health.
Mum was angry. She said she wanted to liberate animals. She said, “Well, what are they gonna do to a woman with terminal cancer? Give me a life sentence?”
I realised that the passion she was feeling and the desire to turn it into action were something I could tune into to. Rather than simply feeling anger and frustration at the cruelty, I could take action. With very little time free around caring for Mum, I began writing letters to council, to parliament, to any decision makers I could think of who may be able to make a difference to animals. It showed me that even those with the busiest lives can do something.
After Mum passed away, I helped Dad arrange a beautiful funeral. I baked vegan cupcakes for the wake and spent ages decorating them with tiny lavender sprigs (Mum’s favourite flower).
But once that was done, I knew it was time. Time to dedicate my life to the purpose of saving animals. I went back to NSW Hen Rescue, which I had set up before leaving for England with a vigour and dedication I had not had before.
And since then I have worked hard to bring about whatever change I can. At times I have been left disappointed by a lack of change. I love reading animal rights history, but at the same time that can leave me feeling astonished at how hard those activists worked and yet how little has changed now.
But I have learnt that we cannot give up. The situation for animals is truly an emergency. Whether our actions are small or large, can you imagine what we could achieve if we all took an action a day?
After writing Saving Animals: A Future Activist’s Guide,I felt even more inspired. The young people I spoke to had new ideas, a new take on how to bring about change and a new energy. I was so happy to share that with readers and yet the last thing I wanted was for people to feel overwhelmed. That is why I decided to create a free 10 day challenge where you can do one small form of activism every day. By reading an email a day you will discover an action, you can take that will make a difference to animals.
I hope that by sharing this with you I will help you find your inner activist. I truly believe that no matter your age, background, your personality or your physical ability, there is a way for you to help animals and make the world a kinder place.
Let’s do this!