As well as being a fun celebration around the best vegan foods, Dublin Vegfest always tries to support local vegan education and outreach. Last year we were able to give free exhibiting space to some of these organisations and groups. One such project close to our hearts is Back Into Daylight Animal Sanctuary (BIDAS). They’re set in a quiet rural part of County Meath and run through the partnership of the incredibly committed and friendly Declan Bowens and Sharon. Together they give a home and care for many animals who can live out their lives free from exploitation and cruelty. We are delighted to partner with Back Into Daylight again this year. We thought you might like to hear a bit about life at the sanctuary and how and why it all happens.
What is Back into Daylight?
Back into Daylight Animal Sanctuary is a Vegan Sanctuary where we take in Animals from all situations. We care for the Animals for the rest of their precious lives. We give them the best care that we can afford and look after them every minute of every day 365.
What is an average day like on the Sanctuary?
We get up at 6.30, go out, feed and give water to all the Animals and see if they are OK. If we see sick ones we give them treatment immediately. We bring them into the house with us to keep an eye on them. If it is one of the large Animals like the goats, pigs or geese we put them in a separate shed and keep an eye on them. While our breakfast is cooking we feed all of the cats and some of the neighbors cats that come to our window for food. We also feed all of our dogs. When everyone has been fed we sit down for our breakfast. After breakfast we check our emails and Facebook.
Then we go out and take a closer look at all the Animals. We start cleaning out their houses as it is vital to keep them clean to stop the spread of disease. We also collect all waste material from the dogs and cats around the Sanctuary as they are free to roam among the other Animals. Then it is time for dinner.
After dinner we make repairs to fences and houses of the Animals and check all fences. Come three o’clock we feed all the Animals again. We look to see if there are any sick Animals and give special care to the sick ones. We give them medicine again and make sure that they will be warm and safe for the coming night. Some evenings we put posts up on Facebook to highlight the Sanctuary and try and get some donations. We also put some posts up on the Sanctuary website: backintodaylight.com
All of this takes time and needs to be done! At dusk we put all the Animals to bed and close all the doors, count everyone and make sure everyone is there and safe for the night. Some repair jobs change from day to day. We also construct new buildings and fences from time to time as new residents arrive. This is a constant drain on funds.
How did the Sanctuary start?
We always had lots of Animals cats, dogs, hens and a bull that we had for twenty five years. One day about five years ago a friend said: “Why don’t you start a Sanctuary?” so that is when we started Back into Daylight Animal Sanctuary .
Who are the residents who live at the Sanctuary?
We have Cats, Dogs, Hens, Cockerels, Goats, Pigs, Geese, Rabbits and lots of wild birds who live with the Animals at the Sanctuary.
Can you tell us the story of some of the Animals? How did they come to the Sanctuary?
We have Arthur here, a wild boar who walked up our lane and came to us. He is a wonderful large boar and he is a good boy. We just have to be careful around him as he is so strong and he could knock us down very easily.
Ella, one of our dogs came from Dublin. She was treated very badly by the people that had her and she was kept in filthy condition. When we got her she had to be washed several times to get the awful smell off her. She is a beautiful gentle creature and she loves all the Animals at the Sanctuary. All the Animals come from different situations from backyard breeders to farms and individual people who can no longer take care of them. Some are sent to us from the vets who were going to put them down for no reason.
Who are the people that run the Sanctuary?
Myself Declan! and Sharon run the Sanctuary .I was raised on a farm and I could not believe people ate the Animals that we had on the farm. When I realized where meat came from I would not eat it anymore. I was about eight at the time . When I met Sharon she went vegetarian when I explained the suffering of the Animals to her. The two of us are Vegan ten years now. I always loved Animals and it is such a pleasure to be near them everyday.
I want to help Animals because they have the right to live their lives same as we do. We should not be inflicting pain on them because they feel pain the same as we do. They love their babies the same as we do. I have seen this with my own eyes for years living on my parents farm and now on the Sanctuary.
What’s the biggest challenge in running the Sanctuary?
Trying to keep funding for all the things we have to do and materials, food, vet bills, medicine, housing, fencing etc. We always need some extra cash for the large vet bill when animals get sick and we can’t treat them ourselves. When an animal dies it is very stressful and very hard to take that their beauty and presence has gone. But we work on for all the other Animals need us so much day after day.
What is the best thing anyone can do to help Animals?
Go vegan and encourage other people to go vegan. Speak up for the Animals at every opportunity with family, with friends and work mates. Do some vegan outreach on the streets, support vegan outreach and Animal Rights groups. If you can’t get out on the streets, support them with some funds. Don’t leave it to someone else, YOU are that someone else!
You were partners with Dublin Vegfest last year and partners again this year. What are your hopes for the day?
Dublin Vegfest was wonderful for the Sanctuary. We raised some badly needed funds. It was a great day and I was amazed at the amount of people who came to the fest. Many people who came were not vegan. We talked to lots of people about the Sanctuary and encouraged people to go vegan. This year I would hope for the same and if it is as good as last year that would be great. It should be great and at a bigger venue and we are looking forward to it so much. We will be raising funds for the Sanctuary and hope to raise more than last year. Everyone who organized the Vegfest was so wonderful to us last year. We thank them so much.
How can people support Back into Daylight Animal Sanctuary?
Share the posts we put out on Facebook.
Donate on our website: backintodaylight.com
Organize a fundraising event: a coffee morning or a night in a pub or run a marathon and donate cash raised to the sanctuary.
Donate an old car when trading in for a new one.
Come and do some volunteer work at the Sanctuary.
Donate articles that we can sell at the Dublin Veg Fest.
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