Captain- defn: A leader. One in command.
And commanding our attention recently was a handsome Wiltshire Horn wether we have christened The Captain. Having arrived at our sanctuary after experiencing an horrific predator attack, The Captain simultaneously reminds us of all that is good in the human heart and all that is wanting in our relationship with the animals we farm for food and fibre.
Suffering severe wounds which see the muscle of his forelimb completely exposed and at risk of infection, The Captain’s condition upon his arrival at our sanctuary caused us to audibly gasp. Whilst The Captain was fortunate to eventually cross paths with a kind heart who brought him into our care, it was evident his injury was not recent but one that had been present for some time. Exactly how someone could allow a living, feeling being to endure such pain was beyond us. Charismatic and welcoming of our attention, our hearts sank even further when we realised The Captain was trusting of mankind, meaning he had most likely held a close relationship with a human in his past. Somehow this made the failure to meet his basic needs all the more upsetting.
However, it is not judgement of The Captain’s former carer, for we aren’t to know his or her unique circumstances, but a reflection upon our entire species’ relationship with those we label farmed animals. In fact, The Captain is the third sheep in as many weeks to enter our care suffering insufficiently-treated injuries resulting from a predator attack.
That our country’s recently-endorsed Standards and Guidelines for Sheep, to eventually be adopted by all states and territories, still allows for the performance of flesh and tail removal procedures as well as castration without the use of pain relief is telling indeed. Whilst being a vulnerable prey animal sees sheep mask their pain in a way that differs from our beloved cats and dogs, their stoicism does not mean such situations cause them no harm. In fact, once a sheep like The Captain begins to separate himself from the flock and visibly succumb to his injuries it is often too late.
As The Captain, tall and proud, commands our respect and our empathy it is our greatest hope that his story can begin to steer us in a new direction for all of his kind. May The Captain serve as a reminder to all that it is our time to heal our relationship with the animals with whom we share the world. It is our turn to lead the way toward a kinder world for us all.