Policy on Animals

Approved: 17 August 2008

Definitions

Indoor pets-- animals (e.g., goldfish, gerbils, cats, zebras, whatever) that live indoors.

Outdoor pets-- animals (e.g., cats, dogs, potbellied pigs, whatever) that may spend time outside.

Barnyard pets-- animals (e.g., horses, sheep, goats, emus, whatever) that require barn space, barnyard space, and grazing land. They do not contribute directly or indirectly to the livelihood or food supply of the community members.

Farm animals-- animals (e.g., horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, whatever) that require barn space, barnyard space, and grazing land. They do contribute directly or indirectly to the livelihood or food supply of community members.

Wild animals-- animals (e.g., deer, turkeys, coyotes, foxes, woodchucks, mice, rats, songbirds, whatever) that occur naturally on the land.

Other animals-- all other animals (e.g., fleas, flies, ticks, aphids) naturally occurring on the land.

Carrying capacity-- In a natural sense, is the number of animals of each species that can thrive in a geographical community without degrading its environment. In a social sense, the number of animals that can be enjoyed and cared for by the community without inducing strife over (for example) encounters with feces, love of untrammeled garden space, personal preferences of all sorts (e.g., bird watching vs. cat watching).

Owner –the person who primarily takes on the responsibility and care of a specific animal.

Interests and principles we are trying to serve with this policy

The intent of this policy is to actively encourage practices that protect the safety, beauty, tranquility, thrivability, and health of the community and the relationships between individual humans and individual animals.

 

~    We want to live in solidarity with other animals, both wild and domestic, in our community and on our land. We want them to be healthy, and to live and to die as naturally as possible. We do not allow cruelty. We will make an effort to help all animals to live well.

~    We shall strive to keep the populations of all animals on our land within both natural and social carrying capacities.

~    All animals impact the environment. Food and care for domestic animals require streams of food, packaging, transport, medicines and waste processing, which impact not only our own land and resources, but land and resources far away. Therefore, and in keeping with our principles, we will bring animals into our lives mindfully.

 Conventions

~      No animals except for humans (and service or guide animals) shall be admitted to the public areas of the common Farm House.

~      All barnyard pets, outdoor pets and farm animals are to have clearness with the Land Committee before becoming part of the community, just as all adult humans have a Clearness Committee through Membership Committee.

~      The Queries and Advices listed below are suggested for use by members and the Land Committee for this Clearness Process.

~      Pets and farm animals can be brought before the concern of the Land Committee by the Owner or by any other member of the community. For example, if a goat is continuously stealing laundry off others’ clothes lines and direct discussion between concerned people is insufficient, then Land Committee is available for consultation.

~      Owners are ultimately responsible for the good behavior of their animals and for ameliorating any damage caused by the animals.

~      Owners are ultimately responsible for the care of barnyard pets and farm animals and responsible for disposing of their wastes in an ecologically and aesthetically acceptable manner (to be approved by the Land Committee).

~      As animals have all gone through the process of clearness, to some degree the entire community shares some responsibility. All of us are responsible for communicating with Owners as quickly as possible about any animal-related problem. All of us are also responsible for keeping other animals, adults and children from provoking or hurting animals. For example, if a very large Piggy roams and roots up the countryside and the “Owner” is not on-site to take action, others will do their best to take care of the situation. Likewise, “Owners” should inform others about animals’ specific needs (e.g., horses shouldn’t actually have sugar cubes, some dogs don’t like to have children run up to them, and Jimbo the sheep doesn’t like to be rubbed on the forehead).

~      Visitors generally should not bring animals to the Community, but as going through spontaneous Clearness might prove cumbersome, visitors’ animals are to be restrained at all times.

Indoor Pets

~      Indoor pets are excluded from the Clearness Process as noted above for all other animal classifications, but a Clearness Committee can always be made available. Indoor pets are the responsibility of the household in which they live. Unless they cause complaint beyond the walls of their home, they are not the community's business. We urge all households, however, to consider the full sustainability implications of acquiring any indoor pet. (For example, the capturing of endangered species, the electricity or other forms of energy required for maintenance, the necessary food supply and where it comes from, the disposal of wastes, etc.).

~      We hope/encourage all cats and dogs to be neutered, spayed and vaccinated.

Outdoor Pets

~      There is a certain carrying capacity for outdoor pets which is determined by the Land Committee.

~      An individual desiring an outdoor pet would meet with the Land Committee.

~      As with indoor pets, all outdoor pets should be neutered, spayed and inoculated.

Barnyard Pets and Farm Animals

~      There is a certain carrying capacity for barnyard pets and Farm Animals which is determined by the Land Committee.

~      An individual desiring an outdoor pet would meet with the Land Committee.

~      Animals that are necessary to the livelihood or food supply of community members shall not necessarily have priority over animals kept for recreation or as pets.

~      Owners will work with the Land Committee to come to an agreement about the allocation, grazing land, and barn space for barnyard and farm animals.

~      Owners are expected to make use of grazing and hay lands in ways that maintain or increase those lands' fertility and productivity and that protect water and wildlife resources.

~      Community members are asked not to feed or to use other member’s animals without specifically speaking with the Owners.

~      Owners are responsible for fencing to be sufficient to contain the animals in a way that protects the animals and the community. Owners are responsible for ameliorating promptly any damage caused by these animals to buildings, fences, and land. The community is responsible for respecting fencing and gates and abiding by the animal Owners' instructions with regard to keeping animals fenced and controlled.

Wild Animals

~      We share this land with wild animals and strive to preserve their habitats, especially in forest and wetlands. We will try to manage grazing, croplands and forest in ways that encourage wildlife, as far as possible without threatening our crops, domestic animals, or livelihoods.

~      When it is necessary to protect crops, domestic animals, or built space from wild animals, we will do so as much as possible by nonviolent means (fencing, repellents, and guard animals). However, if necessary, and to the minimum extent necessary, we will kill wild animals in order to protect domestic animals, farm animals, buildings, people, and livelihoods. We will kill them as humanely as possible which might mean using a gun. At this point, there is a practice against guns on the land; we may in the future choose to dedicate a certain day or time as a hunting time when guns will be brought from off-site for such purposes. Some other methods (leg trapping, bow and arrow, poisoning) which may seem more natural can be crueler than a gun.

~      We will especially protect rare and endangered species on our land.

~      We will permit the use of domestic animals in the control of wild animal populations within the building and garden areas (for example, dogs chasing woodchucks from gardens or barn cats for mice if any particular cat can make it through the clearness process). But we will limit our domestic animals’ interference with wild species by restricting their range and access to the wild habitats on our land, especially during seasons when their prey is bearing young.

Other animals

~      All animals have their natural place. However, when we “own” animals and restrict their lives, certain imbalances occur (e.g., numerous bothersome flies in the barn) so we must take specific measures to mitigate this problem. We will do so as far as possible by nonviolent means (natural repellents, pheromone traps). However, if necessary, and to the minimum extent necessary, we will kill Other Animals in order to protect domestic animals, farm animals, buildings, people, and livelihoods. We may choose to use toxic chemicals such as insecticides and pesticides but as a last resort and in as minimal form as possible.

Queries and Advices for the Domestic Animal Clearness Process – for individuals and for the community

1.     Are we open to being challenged in our personal lives/choices, including what happens in our own homes?

2.     Does this animal meet our emotional and aesthetic needs, agricultural needs, food, etc.?  What about this animal brings value?  What are the needs this animal fulfills?  (Consider both the needs of the individual/primary caregiver and of the community)

3.     What resources will this animal require?  What resources will this animal provide?

4.     Given (1) our testimony on simplicity and (2) very full lives, are we willing to give something up to acquire something new?  What time, attention, and resources will this animal need?  (e.g., regarding our energies, do you have the time/energy for the animal?)