‘My heart is in animal rescue, but my head is in animal advocacy.’
““I always wanted to help the populations who most needed it in this world. I went to college to earn a bachelor’s in psychology because I was planning to work with at-risk kids.
“While I was in college, I took a class about world religions and learned about Jainism, an Indian religion that respects all life. I embraced a vegan lifestyle, and I started taking courses in environmentalism. I went on to earn a master’s degree in anthrozoology.
“In 2009, I started protesting Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus after I saw horrifying pictures of a baby elephant in chains.
“In 2012, I founded Long Island Orchestrating for Nature [LION]. It was a side project, and I never imagined it would get as big as it got. I have been involved with rescuing and rehoming an entire petting zoo, abandoned black swans, goats running from slaughterhouses, and piglets from one of Iowa’s largest factory farms.
“Among the most interesting cases I’ve dealt with involved Canada geese. One was shot through the neck with an arrow. The other had fireworks duct-taped to him, and someone had lit the fuse, but the goose went into the water and extinguished it, which saved his life.
“In both instances, we captured the geese and got them veterinary care. Both survived, healed and were released back into the wild.
“I got a job working with PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] after I gave a speech about LION’s grassroots start at an international wildlife conference. It was then that I realized I could make advocating for animals a career.
“In 2022, we rebranded and now go by the name Humane Long Island. Our latest initiative has been to shut down Sloth Encounters [a petting business in Hauppauge]. The laws protecting animals are very weak, and we need support to strengthen them. My heart is in animal rescue, but my head is in animal advocacy.
“HumaneLI is currently working on creating a sanctuary that will include an activist education center. We envision this sanctuary as being a transitional place that houses rescued animals only until we can find them loving forever homes. That way we will always have room for more. The best way to help animals is to stop eating them. One vegan can save nearly 200 animal lives every year.”
Interviewed by Meagan Meehan