Animal Protection > AR Interviews

Interviewed by Claudette Vaughan

Independent, unassuming and probably one of the best direct actionists this country has produced, last month Tony Reid was called to court on charges relating to the live export industry.

He has brought many, many people to the movement through his vegan cooking. I kid you not. People remember his food first and it's the key in the future on how vegans can win people over to our cause full-time. On rescue missions for the animals Tony's food is always a highlight to an otherwise grueling day. His kindness ensures activists have their sugar hit before a rescue and eat delicious gourmet dishes afterwards. He lives on a sanctuary with his partner in NSW somewhere and has a full and varied lifestyle. Many of us in the movement feel privileged to work with Tony as he has proven his trustworthiness, reliability and engenders respect from new activists as well as veterans.

Q. How long have you been a vegan?

A. 22 years

Q. What got you started?

A. I was a veggo for about a year then became involved in animal rights in England. Through animal activists my life changed. A friend gave me a leaflet entitled "What Happens To The Cows" and that was it for me. I was never a big fan of cheese or anything like that. Once the milk went, the eggs followed and I haven't looked back since.

Q. What does your sanctuary's name mean?

A. Atchin Tan comes from the Romany Gypsies and means "resting place".

Q. That's right. I've seen those fabulous Gypsy carts you make in your shed.

A. It's a hobby really. No money in it. The gypsies used to live down the road from us in England on the Common. I got to know them well and eventually went to live with them. One day I decided I wanted to own a gypsy wagon cart and built it from scratch myself. Now I build them to order.

Q. How many residents do you have on your sanctuary?

A. All the residents are rescued animals from the hellholes of factory farming and sheer neglect. We have over 100 residents. Chooks, Horses, Rabbits, Donkeys, Mice, Turkeys, Dogs and Guinea pigs.

Q. Do you have problems with the fox population?

A. Yes. A couple of times we have lost a few animals to foxes. Basically now the animals just stay in a large enclosure. We don't leave them out in open space as foxes will attack during the daytime as well as the night. This seems to be the best solution all round.

Q. The recent court case at Portland. 12 month good behaviour bond and $250.00 to be paid to the court fund with no conviction next to your name. A good result?

A. Yes, it was, wasn't it? We didn't cause any damage and it was a non-violent peaceful protest.

Q. I meant to say thank-you to you. The original plan was to go under the fence to reach the boats but when we got there wasn't enough room to go under and some stayed back. I had this heavy army jacket on that felt like lead and the new plan was to go along the fence which jutted out over the water onto the hard rocks below. With the freezing winds blowing all around us your calmness under pressure was much appreciated by me.

A. Thanks. It was a good action. Plenty of media and we made plenty of noise on the subject of live exports.

Q. What are your thoughts on the live export trade.

A. Oh it stinks! Barbaric comes to mind. Not only the sea journey which is bad enough but there is no compassion at all in this business and there is no justification for it to continue. If we look into the eyes of any 2 year old child or lamb or duckling or calf, we see the same thing. Trust, Innocence, Openness and Spontaneous Joy. To snuff that out without a moments thought is barbaric, cruel, sub-human.

Q. What about friendships that are formed in the movement.

A. Through working together for the greater good of the animals strong friendships are forged that often last a lifetime. If a vegan does something and a meat-eater does the identical thing, I have less patience with the meat-eater for I feel the meat-eater has shown no compassion in choosing their life-style. Animal rights friendships are not built from the ordinary persons perspective. Our movement is not motivated by personal desire. I mean, having spent so long in the movement what worries the ordinary person appears trivial to me compared to the cruelty animal activists have witnessed in their lives.

Q. You have rescued so many animals from death's door. What makes you keep going back?

A. I go back because they need help. Its as simple as that.

Q. From the person who first started in animal rights to who you are now, how have you changed?

A. Yes. When I first started I was angry at everybody with what I saw going on with animals. I have come to realise the world isn't going to turn vegan in my lifetime, as much as I would like it to, so I do the best I can do to achieve improvements for the animals here and now.

Q. What are your ideas on creating a rescued animal register.

A. Either a National register or a state register would be good. They have them overseas so why not here? When an animal crops up and needs a home we could go through the list and see who is willing to take that animal. Also before a rescue its good to know in advance so we know who will take them and where they have to go. It would be much easier to operate like this. You wouldn't have to chase people up or beg them to take in another animal. Even if they were already full up with animals, it's a starting point.

Q. What's for dinner tonight?

A. Eggplant and Zucchini casserole with Orange and Chocolate cake for dessert (laughter). I've always liked cooking. I cook by taste. No recipe books for me. I taste as I go along and add what I think it needs as I go.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A. To get through life the very best way I can. To keep chipping away and hope to succeed and achieve something good for the animals.

Q. How do you fund your sanctuary?

A. We are self-funded. We receive no government grants or anything like that at all and its not always easy running a sanctuary with over 100 mouths to feed twice daily. We do it because we want to do it but if any readers would like to donate we would be most grateful.

Anyone willing to start the first Australian rescued animals register up contact Claudette Vaughan.