We want to move away from the concept that animals need to be useful to humans: TASS (Tribe Animal Sanctuary Scotland; SCT)

Tribe Animal Sanctuary Scotland or TASS is an animal rights sanctuary based in the Clyde Valley, Scotland. Founding members John and Morag have been advocates for animals for decades and with this sanctuary hope to encourage compassion for, and understanding of those animals who are normally not considered pets. TASSreflects among other things, on what triggered them to start the sanctuary, why the way one talks about animals is important, and how to cope with having fear of the future of our planet. 

How do you define yourselves? 

We are vegan activists primarily, in the fortunate position to be able to rescue and live with animals.

What is veganism for you?

A pledge to live without causing harm to animals, a compassionate way to live, but also a fundamental world view that opposes oppression of all kind. 

Photo: TASS

What were your reasons being establishing a sanctuary? 

We want to help animals, give them a good life with love and kindness, be a small part of the solution instead of the problem. We can’t save all the animals who need it, but we can let the ones that we have, be ambassadors for their species. 

We let people meet our animals, hoping that ‘once you meet them, you can’t eat them’. We hope to help undo the social constructs and beliefs if ‘tradition’ whereby some animals are loved and treated with devotion (pets) and others are not considered with any basic kindness (food animals). 

How many residents do you have at the sanctuary? 

We have over 150 animals, all rescued from slaughter, abuse, neglect, or surrendered by previous owners who couldn’t look after them anymore for whatever reason. 

It’s hard work, and there is always something to take care of, from morning to night. It’s a huge responsibility to get it right for the animals.

How to learn better communicate with non-human persons?

If you can’t use language to communicate with someone, you need to rely on observation and gesturing. This can take a long time to work between individuals, specially concerning topics that might not be primary, like food, status and bed. Expressing and understanding each others emotions or more complex matters can be done, but it relies on both arties taking the time to observe carefully.

Photo: TASS

Many sanctuaries are trying to help lonely and/or depressed people by offering cuddle therapy sessions. How would you comment on that? 

Our animals don’t have jobs to do for humans at all. We allow visitors to come and meet them, if the animals want that, some do and some don’t. 

We want to move away from the concept that animals need to be useful to humans. It’s a privilege to share our lives with them and they don’t owe us anything.

Photo: TASS

What non-human persons can teach us?

We can learn not to be so selfish.

Photo: TASS

The enormous transformations to our planet from climate change can have powerful effects on our emotions, making us grieve for what is lost — “climate grief”, “ecological grief”, “eco-anxiety”, “the fear of the future of the planet”. How can one cope with having fear of the future of our planet?

I don’t let fear dictate to me, it cripples your energy and prevents you from taking action. If you feel anxious about the way animals are treated and what eating them does to the planet, take action in any way you can. Even if it’s ‘only’ going vegan.

There are “pet animals”, “work animals”, “food animals”, “entertainment animals”, etc. How to cope with the feeling of helplessness that one can’t save them all?

It’s very sad that we can’t save them all, but it’s the reality. You do what you can. You can make small changes to the way you talk about animals, like not putting them into the human serving categories like pets, wildlife, vermin, livestock, etc. 

You offer a stay, a self catering hut, at TASS. What are your ground rules for staying?

We send comprehensive instructions to the visitors, including asking them not to bring any non vegan food and drink. Access to the animals is by private tour, visitors are not allowed unsupervised access to the animals.

Photo: TASS

What animal activists, vegan activists, etc would you say have influenced you the most, and why?

Any vegan is an influence and motivates me to keep going with my work. I love hearing people saying that meeting our animals has made them give up animal products. The animals themselves are the most motivating influence of them all, but in the 30 years I have been vegan, there have been lots of wonderful humans who have helped me shape my views.

Get inspired!

Website: https://tribesanctuary.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/updatesTASS/
Stay at TASS (The Vegan Stay): https://www.theveganstay.com/listing/cozy-hut-on-the-grounds-of-a-vegan-animal-sanctuary/