AN INTERVIEW WITH THE INSPIRATIONAL TAMARA KENNEALLY
A couple of weekends ago I was browsing the Facebook page for one of my favourite animal sanctuaries, Freedom Hill. On their page, I read a story about a sheep, Righty, that had been badly injured after it was attacked one night by dogs at a property in Victoria. Since then, I’ve been visiting the page of Righty’s owner, Tamara Kenneally, to follow Righty’s progress and recovery following his ordeal. Tamara is a photographer, passionate believer in animal rights, and she provides a home to many rescue animals.
I’m pleased to report, that Righty is recovering from his injuries and starting to get some of his spark back.
A week or so ago I was fortunate enough to interview Tamara about her passion for animals, life as a vegan and of course, about Righty.
1. Can you tell us a little about how you became involved in animal rescue and animal welfare?
I had a great love of animals since I can remember. It was always about animals for me. I’ve always felt more grounded and more myself when around animals. Our family cats always came from rescue organisations and when I was 11, my dog came to me because he was unwanted by someone else. I’ve always had animals in my life and when my partner moved away from the city and started living on some land in the country, we both decided to take on rescued animals.
I turned incredibly strict vegetarian when I was about 16, realizing my diet was completely working against my love of animals. Veganism came in my late twenties, but was always something I was working on being. As soon as I turned vegetarian I was creating photographic work directly related to the plight of animals, including pieces on Gelatine, on food additives, on the relationship between dogs and humans and horses and humans. So I was an activist before I really knew what an activist was really!
2. How many animals are currently in your care? What are some of the joys that your rescue animals bring you?
5 sheep. 29 chickens (ex-battery hens, broiler chickens and unwanted purebreds) 2 Peahens. 1 cat and my partner has 1 dog.
There is nothing quite like watching a bald battery hen take her first steps on grass and look up to the sky. There is nothing like it. It’s a mix of overwhelming joy and sadness. Joy for the chickens who now have freedom and sadness for the millions of chickens who will never experience it. Rescuing sheep who are terrified and have been abused is also a joy to experience. Having a sheep who would once run so far away from you, come up and sniff you on the face has to be one of the most beautiful moments you could experience.
3. Your photos capture animals in their natural habitat perfectly. What are the key messages that you want to convey with your photography?
The main focus of what I do is to show animals as who they really are despite humans uses and views of them. I aim to tell their story through my portraits. Each and every animal is different. Their personalities are different, their likes and dislikes are different. Basically animals are all unique and different just like you and I, this is something I really want to portray, their individuality. For viewers to look at my images and believe that animals are someone and not something is something that drives me more than anything else.
4. What inspires you?
Pure and simple – animals. Animals have always been a huge part of my life and knowing what animals, particularly farm animals, go through on a day to day basis because of humans and their greed inspires me daily.
5. Your photography page on Facebook recently became very well known amongst Australian animal lovers after one of your sheep, Righty, was attacked. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened? How is Righty now?
Our sheep sleep underneath out bedroom window and one night at 2am, we were awoken by boyfriend’s dog crazily barking. We then heard dogs barking in our paddock. We jumped up and flew outside to find two Malamutes ripping apart our beautiful 3 year old sheep, Righty. We literally had to put ourselves between the dogs and the rest of the sheep and it amazes me that we didn’t get attacked. Righty was only minutes away from having his throat ripped out by the dogs. The next day, the vet gave Righty a 20 percent chance of living and the Ranger gave him no chance of living. The vet hadn’t seen wounds so bad for a long time. After a week and a half of intensive vet treatment and contanst treatment on our behalf, he is still alive and slowly getting better. He’s vet treatment is being paid for by all the kind and generous people on facebook and I cannot thank them all enough.
6. What are some of the challenges that you face in providing a home to so many rescue animals?
The biggest challenge faced is financial. It really does cost more than most people think rescuing and rehabilitating animals. Food and veterinary cost can get quite overwhelming. The other challenge is dealing with animals who die prematurely because of their pasts.
7. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with us about you, your photography, or your rescue animals?
I do what I do for animals. I take photos of animals for the animals and I make next to no money from it and I’m fine with that. Farm animals are so much more than an egg, a wool jacket, a Big Mac, a sausage, a chicken burger or a slice of ham. Animals are individuals who suffer just like humans do. I’m waiting for the day more people can see that and if my images can change even one person’s views on animals, then I’ve done a good job.