OCEANSIDE — While most 15-year-olds are concerned with earning their learner’s permits to drive, Olivia Harmon is more concerned about saving farm animals from slaughter.
Harmon, an Oceanside resident and sophomore at Oceanside High School, started by rescuing cats and dogs, and then moving on to help hurt birds and lizards by rehabilitating them.
About a year ago, Harmon rescued her first farm animal, a 300-pound pig named Indie that was going to be sent to the slaughterhouse.
“After I rescued her, I knew that’s what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” said Harmon.
Harmon created an Instagram account, Happy Hooves Rescue, after saving Indie, as a means for people to reach out, alerting her of any animals in need.
So far, Harmon has saved eight farm animals, and she’s in the process of rescuing four more, which end up living at various animal sanctuaries.
“I started this whole rescue mission because animals deserve so much better than how we treat them,” said Harmon. “When you really sit down and meet the animals you’d normally consume on a daily bases, you realize just how much personality they have. The thousands of farm animals (people) abuse and slaughter each day are no different from our normal everyday companies like dogs and cats.”
Some of the animals she’s rescued have been found on Craigslist, or at auctions.
“I make deals with people by giving them gift cards to a store of their choice, buying tools like welding machines or tool boxes in exchange for the animal,” said Harmon. “Sometimes if I let the owner know what I do for the animals, they will give them to me free of charge since they would be going to a good home, but sadly most people don’t care (about the animals).”
While Harmon used to eat meat on a regular basis, she became a vegetarian at the age of 11 and has recently transitioned to a vegan lifestyle.
“After doing more research and watching the documentary ‘Cowspiracy,’ on Netflix, I learned that not only was my diet affecting me and the animals in a positive way, but it was also benefiting the earth,” said Harmon.
Harmon’s family also lives a meat-free lifestyle and assists Harmon by occasionally transporting the animals she rescues to safety.
Harmon has plans to buy a lot of land and open up her own animal sanctuary in the future. She is currently in the process of making her rescue business a nonprofit organization so she will be able to rescue more animals, while educating others on compassion towards animals.
“Animals are important to me because they have so much to give,” she said. “They don’t judge you on the way you look or what kind of expensive items you have, they just want to be loved and (give) love back.”
Harmon has a gofundme account to help raise funds to rescue more animals.