After watching the documentary Cowspiracy, this lawyer turned his home into a sanctuary for farm animals.
By day, John Friske fights to protect people from environmental pollution. By night, his time is spent caring for rescued animals at his home, which he converted into a sanctuary.
The lawyer, who has represented a number of California cities in suing Monsanto for the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) they’ve released into waterways, was inspired to found the sanctuary after watching the documentary Conspiracy. After deeming the environmental effects caused by the meat industry to be too high, he decided to take action.
In the first year, the activist welcomed eight animals of four species – including four rescued horses, a crippled pig, two hens, and a German shepherd. Goats are the next guests to arrive.
Daisy, a rescue dog from Southern California German Shepherd Rescue was the first creature to be adopted.
Next was an American quarter horse named Emma.
“She came to me because her family couldn’t ride her anymore. People aren’t really in the market for a 26-year-old horse, so, instead of going to slaughter, her owners wanted a good home to put her in.”
The lawyer was inspired to start the sanctuary for more than environmental reasons. He’s also an advocate for ethical, plant-based eating.
“Our society has drawn a line between eating cows and pigs and eating dogs and cats, but there’s no real reason for it. The number of farm animals killed each year is astronomically high,” he said. “Our food system has become a grotesque, violent industry, and unless we help out those who can’t help themselves, our job isn’t done.”
Above all, Fiske believes there needs to be mutual respect and compassion between humans and animals. The sanctuary’s mission statement reads:
“We believe the connection between animals and humans reveals the true nature of both, and the distinctions among species are blurred as humans discover their capacity for compassion.”
To cover the sanctuary’s costs and upkeep, Fiske rents out a studio apartment on the property through Airbnb. In addition, he sells cherimoya fruit from his own grove and continues to work in law by day.
The activist is already planning for local community groups and children’s programs to visit the farm and experience a place where animals are treated with respect. Friske hopes that by bringing children and animals together, compassion toward animals in generations to come will result.
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