Our Hen House

Our Hen House shows you what other people are doing for animals and how you might be able to do something, too, whether you’re a lawyer, artist, mom or protest type. The site, blog and podcast are put out by an animal rights power couple–former Farm Sanctuary campaign manager Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, who teaches animal law and heads the American Bar Association’s animal law committee.

Together they decided they wanted to do more for animals–by showing people who are already on board with animals but don’t know how to get involved.  Thousands of grassroots, ad hoc pro-animal groups are springing up these days. “It’s not optional,” says Jasmin, explaining the change that is going to have to happen in the way we eat and treat animals. “And I’m not talking about 100 years from now.”

They divide the ways people can jump into animal issues into a few categories: legal, activist, grass roots, arts and media. “We empower people rather than just spotlight others,” says Jasmin. They show people how to do it. Often literally, because they’re big into video. There’s a weekly video that can either inspire, entertain or show how to help.

Their biggest tool is their weekly podcast, now in its 38th episode, about all things animal. Jasmin writes stories about people who have found some way to help animals. The mass of farm sanctuaries popping up around the country, for example, not only  saves these individual animals, but convinces people there’s something inside each animal worth saving. “You start to realize they are these really clever little beings,” Jasmin says of being around farm animals.

The North Carolina group Coalition to Unchain Dogs, for example, films when they go in and build a fence for a dog that had previously been made miserable by a heavy chain. Their video shows a boxer named Tiger depressed in the dirt patch where she’s chained. She watches the volunteers erect the fence and when they unchain her, she goes silly-happy-crazy. Their video got 13,000 views.

Before this, maybe you saw a dog chained up and thought it was bad, but what could you do? The chained dog probably seemed far down the list of animal problems. But Coalition to Unchain Dogs has vastly improved the lives of 500 dogs. And educated 500 dog owners. Now maybe one of those 13,000 viewers will go build another dog a fence in their community. Or put together another group that does something they think needs being done for animals.

Marianne Sullivan and Jasmin Singer / Photo by Lauren Krohn

“We’re not a ‘Go Vegan!’ site,” Jasmin says. “We’re a ‘you’re already a vegan’ site.” They’re a hub and a how-to site and full of practical information.

They’re connecting animal people with each other–and with each other’s ideas and techniques.

I got to see a little of the networking in action when I met Jasmin for coffee at Snice Soho, a favorite vegan coffee shop of hers. I’m new to vegetarianism and she had a million great tips, fun restaurants and plenty of websites that she described as gentle, such as veganatheart. She has tons of them. But it’s all done with a gentle manner. Our Hen House doesn’t say: 5 Things You Need to Help Animals NOW! But, hey, here’s something really wonderful somebody does for animals. Why don’t you mull that over and get back to us on what you can do.

Check Out Our Hen House

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