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Almost everything about Canadian rockers Tegan and Sara defies categorization. But then again, what can you expect from a band that draws comparisons to both Avril Lavigne and Phil Collins and that is placed on Rolling Stone’s “Top 50 Records of 2004” list next to Nellie McKay, Taking Back Sunday, and Kanye West? Well, you can expect that they care about animals. Check out what Sara has to say about the Canadian seal hunts, factory farming, and her beloved companion animals …
As a Canadian, how do you feel about the seal hunts? The Canadian government has given hunters permission to kill 350,000 seals this year.
When we were in grade six we watched a documentary on the seal hunts. We were doing an endangered species project at school and were asked to research one animal on the list. (I did bald eagles.) The hunters clubbing the seals and then skinning them was horrifying to witness. I do feel like there are alternatives to killing animals for food and materials. Just like the gas and oil industry, I feel like we are not moving quickly enough towards these alternatives.
How do you feel about fur in general?
I don’t wear fur myself. Why would anyone need to wrap a furry body around their neck?
What animal issues are most important to you?
I find making links between affordable food and healthy organic food interesting and essential. Factory farms are an example of the capitalistic drive to mass produce food without regard for the environment, animals, and the humans consuming it. Factory farming and slaughterhouses are an example of the disconnect in North American society between humans and their environment. Little thought goes into the suffering behind these industries (both animal and human suffering). It’s also important to note that privilege and poverty play a role in the miseducation around environment, animals, and food health. It’s important for all of us to continue to educate people about what is in their food and who suffers to make it available to us: the animals and the underpaid workers in slaughterhouses.
Why did you want to be a veterinarian when you were younger?
I loved animals, and my mother indulged us by allowing us to have (not at the same time of course) newts, frogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, fish, and over ten cats. We eventually got things under control and had three amazing cats named Taya, Tazz, and Bailey. Taya was my cat and slept on my head even though I have allergies to cat hair. She died three years ago at the age of 13. Tazz and Bailey are still with my Mom. We used to watch my mom clean Tazz’s abscesses because it got too expensive to take him to the vet.
Tegan wanted to work with polar bears when we were kids. I thought that was a bad idea, due to the weather in the north. I thought I might end up in vet school in Saskatchewan, but due to allergies and my interest in music, things changed.
PETA gets hundreds of calls a week from concerned people whose neighbors or family members are keeping their dogs chained in their yard 24/7. What do you think people need to do to be good, responsible guardians for their dogs?
I’ve always thought that if I was going to have a dog I would want him to have a large yard or a field to be loose in. Especially if he is a big dog. There weren’t a lot of dogs where I grew up, but the ones that I did know had very responsible owners who cared for them appropriately. I know with cats, you need to treat them like they are people. They have physical needs as well as emotional ones. (My mom talks to my cat like a human—and interrupts me to ask the cat what he wants while she is on the phone—that might be a bit much.)