Josefien Klaassen
I've always found it incomprehensible that people feel superior to animals.
I'm the youngest from a family of seven, born in a village. At our house we had chickens, a dog and a cat. I remember the wide ditch near our house where we once drowned kittens in a bag weighted with a stone. At that time it didn't affect me very much emotionally, I just watched.
When I was seven years old, we moved to an upstairs flat in Vlaardingen. The animals stayed behind, but I wanted a pet. One day I found a dog stuck in the ice in a ditch. I kept the dog warm underneath my coat and took it home.
I was very close to that dog. For example: I missed my dog so much during a two-week holiday that I was taken home. Others told me that it was the same for my dog. After a few years, my mother wanted the dog out of the house. She gave the dog away to other people. I hated her for that.
When I was 23 I moved out. I became a volunteer for AMIVEDI and campaigned increasingly for animals.
After about 18 months or two years I bought two dogs (Labrador-puppies). By taking care of these dogs myself I had to think a lot about what they need, and I became aware of what animals need and have, and I became conscious of how animals in our society don't get what they need. I started campaigning against factory farming and eating less and less animal products until I became a vegetarian. I've been more and less strict with myself during my life, at times I was even a vegan.
I talk to my sisters a lot about eating meat, and they have cut down as well.
The core about what I learned about animals is the following:
what animals need is to be animals, free and in contact with members of their species.
I feel very much connected to defenseless people and animals. I feel their pain and sometimes I can't sleep. Animals are left at the mercy of people. When I think about animals in factory farming, my heart breaks. I think it's madness that cattle farmers can keep pets responsibly, while they irresponsibly lock up cattle, like products. I think that the hierarchy that makes people think they are superior to pets, and that pets are superior to cattle, is madness.

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