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Saved Bacon Vegan animal sanctuary in Co Meath rescues over 400 animals

All creatures great and small get to celebrate World Animal Day at the Back Into Daylight animal sanctuary

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Deirdre Reynolds with Bella and Charlotte the pigs at the Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary in Navan,Co Meath.

Deirdre Reynolds with Bella and Charlotte the pigs at the Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary in Navan,Co Meath.

Deirdre Reynolds with Bella and Charlotte the pigs at the Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary in Navan,Co Meath.

Here's Bella and Charlotte rightly hogging the limelight on World Animal Day.

Today marks the international day of recognition of rights for all creatures great and small.

And the lucky sows are sure to be celebrating in pigsty-le after being rescued by a vegan animal sanctuary in Co Meath.

More than 400 other residents have also had their bacon saved by Navan-based charity Back Into Daylight.

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Deirdre with couple Declan Bowens and Sharon Dunne who set up the Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary in Navan, Co. Meath

Deirdre with couple Declan Bowens and Sharon Dunne who set up the Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary in Navan, Co. Meath

Deirdre with couple Declan Bowens and Sharon Dunne who set up the Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary in Navan, Co. Meath

Now founder Declan Bowens is hoping more people will consider foregoing food with a face, on what's also the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals.

"All animals are born with the same zest for life that you and I have," says the former landscaper.

"When you see little lambs bouncing around in the field like children - they all want to live whatever life they have.

"The way [factory-farmed] chickens and pigs and cows are treated is horrendous - there's no need for it."

Vegan

Lifelong animal lover Declan and partner Sharon Dunne, who's also vegan, set up the rescue centre eight years ago.

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Our Deirdre spends some eggs-cellent time with hen Charlie

Our Deirdre spends some eggs-cellent time with hen Charlie

Our Deirdre spends some eggs-cellent time with hen Charlie

Today, it's home to a menagerie of cats, dogs, goats, hens and geese, among other animals, from as far away as Cork and Tipperary.

"We get all sorts of calls about all sorts of different animals," explains Declan.

"We had a hawk there a few weeks ago from Kildare who crashed into somebody's kitchen window.

"Their cat was going to go for him, so they ran out, wrapped him up in a towel and rang me.

"Within ten days, he recovered and we brought him back to where he came from.

"We also have a seagull with a broken wing from Skerries and a few crows as well."

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Tiny the 12-year-old cat watches the Geese stroll by.

Tiny the 12-year-old cat watches the Geese stroll by.

Tiny the 12-year-old cat watches the Geese stroll by.

Around 200 racing and city pigeons have also retired to the vegan paradise in the Royal County.

"They get a bad rap, but they're actually very sociable creatures," he continues. "People find them injured in towns and cities.

"If they're brought to the wrong vet, the vet will just put them down - but we have a few vets that will operate.

"Some of them in there might only have one leg or be missing a wing, but they coo away and have a bit of a life."

Farmer's son Declan first gave up meat as a child after discovering what happened to the cows raised on the family farm.

And the vegan activist reckons more and more people will go cold turkey after the coronavirus outbreak was linked to bat meat.

"I do vegan outreach on Westmoreland Street in Dublin every Sunday," says Declan, who also runs VEGO (Vegan Education on the GO).

"I've stopped now for the last two weeks with the restrictions, but before that - since lockdown ended - a few people have come up to say they're thinking about going vegan since Covid. One man said he'd walked by us hundreds of times over the past six years, and thought we were crazy.

"Two weeks later, he came up to and said he'd given up meat - and dairy was next.

Locked

"People are definitely thinking more about where their food comes from," he adds. "It's not good enough to be vegetarian because if you drink milk, the cows are still killed at six years of age. If you eat eggs, it's the same - the poor hens are all locked in cages.

"It's so simple to be vegan now."

Four-legged vegans living at the sanctuary include Jake the goat and Bertie the pot-bellied pig.

But top dog is a wild boar weighing around 250kg named Arthur who even found his own way to the place.

"We don't know where he came from," says Declan, who relies on fundraising to run Back Into Daylight.

"He just came up our lane one day. He has his own big area and a house. He's lovely - he's very calm.

"We name as many of the animals as we can," he continues. "With the hens, there's so many, it's hard to name them all.

"Most are named after friends or the people who brought them in - they just find it funny.

"We've also got a cat called Mandela after Nelson Mandela.

"You get attached to them all the same as you would a pet dog."

And being surrounded by cuddly herbivores has other benefits, jokes Declan: "I never have to mow the lawn!"

  • Find out more via backintodaylight.com or facebook.com/BackIntoDaylightAnimalSanctuary.