After completing a Masters of Science in Ethology under Prof. Ian Duncan at the University of Guelph in Canada, Lesley worked at a farm animal sanctuary as general caretaker and environmental enrichment manager. In 2001 she moved to Europe to work as a full-time inspector in France and Canada for Animals´Angels, an international animal-welfare organization focusing on animal transport. In late 2008 Lesley founded Eyes on Animals in The Netherlands where she now lives. Lesley speaks four languages and in 2011 became a certified Pig Signals Trainer.
For many years Margreet has been active in animal welfare, ranging from the Dutch ‘Animal ambulance’ to rescuing street elephants, gibbons and bears in Asia. In 2009 she decided to spend less time working in her clinic as a therapist so that she could do more structural volunteer work for Eyes on Animals. In 2011 Margreet became a certified Pig Signals Trainer.
In the summer of 2012, I joined Eyes on Animals for the first time, on an inspection of long distance transports at the EU-Turkey border. My Turkish language skills are extra helpful during both inspections and other activities there. I regularly return to Turkey with various Eyes on Animals team members. Eyes on Animals has also started inspecting slaughterhouses in Turkey. The conditions for animals are often so terrible, that we have started education and lobby activities in Turkey. We work on various levels: informing slaughterhouse directors about "better practices", teaching veterinarian students about animal welfare and making government officials aware of the suffering that goes on in the cattle industry and lobbying for improvements. It is a good feeling to see that Eyes on Animals can make a difference; even just preventing one animal from being badly treated means a lot. In my daily life, I am a management consultant and develop language-learning software.
Since a young child I have been very fond of animals, the environment and nature. I am particularly concerned about the mistreatment of animals- it really hurts when I think about their suffering. For the past few years I have been working as a volunteer-inspector for the Dierenbescherming (“SCPA” of The Netherlands). We inspect pet and hobby animals, such as cats, dogs and horses. I wanted to spread my inspections out to “farmed” animals too. I contacted Eyes on Animals and, fortunately, was accepted to help them with their inspections of livestock trucks, slaughterhouses and markets. I joined their teams in May 2012.
I often wondered what it’s like in a slaughterhouse, at a market or inside a livestock truck, but for years avoided confronting these things. I no longer want to look away. I want to know what happens and if it is not right, I want to do something about it. Thanks to Eyes on Animals I can.
I started working as a voluntary inspector in May 2012. Besides visiting cattle markets, farms and slaughterhouses I give presentations on animal welfare problems and opportunities for improvement Eyes on Animals sees and I deal with external communication. I am glad that by joining Eyes on Animals I can now help animals in a direct way.
Even as a young girl I had great compassion for animals. They fascinated me and I worried about their wellbeing. This concern grew as I got older. That is why I started a Bachelors in Animal Science at the University of Wageningen in 2010 followed by a Masters in the same field. During my studies I became more and more motivated to do something practical to decrease animal suffering and to spread ideas for improvements. To expand my knowledge in animal behaviour and welfare, I also went to Sweden in order to follow some courses at the university there. When I returned to the Netherlands in 2014 I contacted Eyes on Animals to inquire into what happens to farm animals after they leave the farm. At the universities nobody spoke about that aspect of their life, so I knew nothing about it and had absolutely no experience in the field. I joined Eyes on Animals while they were doing their inspection visits of livestock markets, trucks and slaughterhouses and felt immediately at home in the group. By doing voluntary work for Eyes on Animals I can at last do something constructive to diminish the suffering of farm animals by speaking on their behalf, by sharing my knowledge and listening to what other people involved have to say. Nowadays I go on inspections for Eyes on Animals and I share as much of my knowledge as I possibly can.
I grew up in Eibergen, a small village in the east of The Netherlands. When I was about 10 years old, we moved to a farm. I couldn’t be happier. Suddenly, I was living among pigs, chickens and goats. I loved taking care of the animals. I became especially good at catching the pigs that escaped, which happened quite often. In no-time I managed to get them back into their pens.
The neighbours’ farm looked very different from ours. Much bigger. The enormous sheds made me curious. One day I decided to have a peek inside. I looked inside one of the sheds and saw hundreds of pigs. Row by row, like in a bicycle shed. Exactly the same pink pigs that I loved and took care of every day. I started crying and ran off to my parents. I told them I had discovered a pig-prison. I was convinced the police needed to come. It was then that my parents told me that most meat pigs live like that. I never wanted to eat meat again.
From that moment on I decided to dedicate myself to the welfare of animals. In 2006 I started studying animal management and I specialised in livestock farming. In 2014 I won a prize for best thesis, after which I graduated. In 2015 I decided to quit my job as policy officer animal welfare to start working for Eyes on Animals. I had known this organisation for years and I knew that this is what I wanted to do most: be there where the animals need me most.
In 2011 I certified as a pig-signal trainer.
Berker is a large-animal veterinarian from Turkey. He graduated from the University of Istanbul's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. In December 2013 a team from Eyes on Animals and Animal Welfare Foundation was invited by one of his professors to give a talk on farm animal behaviour and welfare during transport and slaughter at the university. Back then Berker was still a veterinarian student and was sitting in the audience. After our talk he approached us and immediately offered his help. From 2013 until May 2016 Berker assisted us whenever he had time in between his studies (with inspections, trailing livestock trucks from Europe to Turkey, organizing training courses for Turkish slaughterhouse workers, getting the Turkish media interested in our work and translating our website articles for www.halal-slaughter-watch.org). In May 2016 Berker become a regular inspector for Eyes on Animals and now works several days each month on EonA and TSB|AWF projects to reduce animal suffering during transport and slaughter in Turkey.