A note from Pasado’s Safe Haven:
April 15, 2011- Today is the 19th anniversary of the death of Pasado, the beloved donkey who was brutally murdered at Kelsey Creek Farms in Bellevue, WA. Though this day brings us great sadness as we reflect upon this sweet soul who suffered so needlessly, it is also a time to think about the awareness, need for change and the positive steps that have happened for animals as a result of Pasado’s death.
Pasado’s staff had the pleasure of visiting Kelsey Creek Farm recently. It was an emotional day as we met with the Kelsey Creek staff who had known, cared for and loved Pasado. We are so very grateful for the photos and stories about Pasado that they shared with us. We laughed and cried when we read letters to Pasado for his memorial written by the community who loved him. Kelsey Creek staff members took us on a tour of the farm which included visiting Pasado’s area, seeing the the light switch that he used to turn on and off at night with his big donkey lips and visiting with the special animals they care for now. It was so heartwarming to see the love and dedication to the animals continue as well as the desire to educate and inform the community about animal issues. It was a very special day that we will always remember.
Thank you to those of you who still send us your photos, experiences and stories about Pasado to our sanctuary.
Pasado’s Safe Haven staff and volunteers still work tirelessly every day to make sure that we put an end to animal cruelty. We will continue to ensure that Pasado did not die in vain and that other animals will not suffer.
Please take a few moments to remember Pasado by reading his story below.
Gone but never forgotten
It has been almost twenty years since Pasado the donkey passed away, but his memory and the positive change that his death prompted are still very much alive.
Pasado was a 21-year-old beloved fixture at Kelsey Creek farm, a popular Bellevue park. Pasado never hesitated to greet a visitor or a passerby and he touched the lives of countless people. On the night of April 14th, or early morning on the 15th, 1992, three teenage boys snuck into his pasture. The friendly donkey approached them unknowing that they were about to put a noose around his neck. Once they did so, he became frightened and panicked. Pasado raced around the pasture with one or two of the young men running behind and holding onto the rope. At one point the boys wrapped the end of the long rope around the base of a fir tree which effectively stopped Pasado from dragging them around the pasture.
Evidence indicated that they then began beating the beloved donkey with sticks and a length of metal handle broken off one of the antique farm implements. Pasado ran around the tree trying to escape but only managed to wrap himself closer and closer to the tree trunk. At one point he could go no further and the rope became so tight that it cut off his air supply. The young men left him there to die.
That night, Pasado strangled to death, afraid and bewildered. Distraught employees at the park discovered Pasado the next morning, slumped over next to the tree. On that fateful day, Pasado’s Safe Haven was founded. One of the teenage boys had shown off the noose the day before at school, and had someone intervened, Pasado’s life might have been spared.
The community was outraged
Pasado’s death stunned the local community. Those who had known and loved him were inconsolable. How could such a heinous crime occur in Bellevue, Washington? The sprawling, high-tech campus of Microsoft was only five minutes from the park where Pasado had died.
Compounding the horror of Pasado’s violent death was the minimal penalty that his killers faced. The prosecutor charged the three boys with breaking and entering because it carried a heavier sentence than beating an animal to death. Somehow, Washington State’s anti-cruelty laws had gone unchanged for more than a century.
The community was outraged over the injustice. Pasado’s tragic death made front page headlines for days. In response to the public outcry, the Washington State Senate held hearings to gauge the public sentiment and examine how the antiquated anti-cruelty laws could be updated.
Unspeakable acts of animal cruelty were heard again and again…
A hearing was held at a library in the affluent neighborhood where Pasado lost his life. The proceedings were standing room only. Over the course of four hours, innumerable people took the microphone and recounted how they personally experienced animal abuse. They tearfully testified about how a beloved dog had been skinned alive, burned alive, or hung from a tree. They talked about their grief over cats who were tortured, run over by a car intentionally, or set afire. Many cases involved retribution: one victim of domestic violence watched in horror as her husband slit her dog’s throat. A local policeman’s dog was shot and laid over his mailbox. For hours, community members discussed their heart wrenching losses at the hands of killers and abusers whose callous crimes went unpunished.
That Tuesday night, a community united by their love of animals learned that they were also united by unspeakable acts of abuse. These acts happened all the time and in all areas, crossing cultural and socio-economic boundaries. From the city to the rural farm, from middle-class suburbs to prosperous neighborhoods, animals were being abused and killed. This illuminating hearing was the point of departure for meaningful legal change, but change would not come swiftly.
The lawmakers were careful with their verbiage when they wrote the law: it was crucial to ensure that no one was offended. They strove to protect scientific laboratories, universities, breeders, rodeos, and circuses. It was a basic law, but it addressed the most intentional acts of animal cruelty: hanging, dragging, burning, and skinning.
Supporters of this ground-breaking law were confident that Pasado’s Law would pass. That confidence faded after the first hearing.
The Cattleman’s Association, the Beef Producers, Dairy Farmers, Grown in Washington Egg and Chicken Farmers, the Farm Bureau, and a litany of farmers packed the hearing room and demanded that the law never be passed. Their resistance was shocking: if they were ethical, responsible farmers, why would they oppose this important legislation? The law covered intentional acts of animal cruelty. It didn’t pertain to accidents, such as inadvertently running over an animal with a tractor. The law had provisions for farmers facing monetary difficulty or insolvency who couldn’t afford to feed their flock or herd, resulting in their animals’ starvation.
The farmers of yesteryear, with cows grazing on bucolic pastureland and ties to the local community, were not the farmers of today. Modern farmers operated huge factory enterprises, agri-business with a high-production, minimal cost philosophy. Animal well-being didn’t enter into this modern farming equation.
It suddenly became apparent why the law had not changed for 100 years. The agriculture lobby, a well-funded, powerful group, was ardently against this legislative reform. When the legislative session ended, the Pasado Law was dead. It was a devastating day for Washington State animal lovers.
After another twelve months of work, the Pasado Law finally passed, but with certain key exclusions. All farm animals were exempted from the law. Common practices, such as throwing a live pig into a vat of boiling water, would be considered legal, acceptable animal husbandry. Death by boiling water prevents visible slaughter marks on pigs who are used for cook-outs, and the aesthetic of an unmarked pig outweighs the cruelty of his or her death. Dairy cows who could no longer walk after repeatedly giving birth to provide milk wouldn’t be spared, either. They could still be dragged alive by chain to slaughter, struggling but unable to escape after years of service.
The road to defending animals was long, winding, and unpaved.
Prior to Pasado’s passing, most Washingtonians didn’t understand the legal limitations of animal rights. After hearing farmers justify their practices and explain why they defended intentional cruelty, Pasado’s investigated – and the results were shocking. The mission of Pasado’s Safe Haven was borne from the cruelty and suffering witnessed at farms across the state.
We began our investigation at local dairy farms. To provide the vast quantities of milk required by the consuming public and the dairy industry, dairy cows, like all mammals, have to be continuously pregnant. Over the years, the toll on a dairy cow’s body is considerable. Every nine months, they produce a calf and are inseminated once again to produce another calf in nine more months. When they are born, the innocent calves are deprived of their mother’s milk and the antibodies contained within it. Calves are treated like garbage – essentially “dairy byproducts” – or sent to veal slaughter. It is acceptable animal husbandry to throw them out alive and leave their bodies in piles while they die.
At poultry farms, conditions were no better. We found chickens in factory farms packed into cages, unable to move their wings or turn around. We discovered that chickens are pumped with antibiotics to accelerate their growth and provide a product for the consuming public at a more rapid rate – but at what cost? Hens often became crippled by their own weight, suffering greatly by the time they are slaughtered. Many hens were also missing their beaks. Chickens in natural settings establish a social hierarchy, but in this unnatural setting, social interactions were atypical and alarming. The hen’s beaks were cut off to prevent self-injurious behavior or pecking other hens from the sheer stress. Their cage floors were filled with excrement which they were unable to escape. Often, hens who died were left in the cage for days on end, while their friends and cage mates, unable to move, had to remain next to them. Amazingly, all of these cruel practices aligned with the definition of “acceptable animal husbandry.”
We still need to SPEAK UP for stronger anti-cruelty laws
Pasado’s is proud that the Pasado Law has forced numerous prosecutions and convictions of animal abusers. Recently, a man who stabbed a church therapy cat received a sentence of nine months in a treatment center. A man who starved his animals, resulting in several deaths, was found guilty of 11 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to six months in jail. And a man who killed his girlfriend’s dog, threatening to kill her afterward, received a 180 day jail sentence.
While we are pleased with our accomplishments, we know that there is still much to be done. At Pasado’s Safe Haven, we feel that no animal should have to suffer. Whether it is a cow, a dog, a cat, a chicken, a pig, a turkey, or a donkey, it is a sentient being who feels. All beings can feel happiness, pleasure, security, and warmth. And they can also feel sadness, pain, insecurity, and coldness. Pasado’s strives to relieve the suffering of those animals who cry out but cannot voice their suffering. We are a voice for the animals.
Help us continue to be a voice and a force for the animals. When Pasado’s goes to the legislative front lines to upgrade anti-cruelty laws, we hope to see you there. When animals are abused, neglected, or abandoned, we hope that you will join us as we fight to have their abusers charged, prosecuted, and convicted. Your letters, calls, and e-mails truly do make a difference. Together, we can be a collective voice that will be heard. Help us ensure that Pasado’s death wasn’t in vain. Through the lives that we save, the perpetrators we prosecute, and the legislation that we pass, the memory of Pasado will live on forever.