NHARL Saves Two Thanksgiving Turkeys from Slaughter

On November 23, the New Hampshire Animal Rights League saved two turkeys at Charmingfare Farm from being slaughtered for Thanksgiving.

An employee at Charmingfare Farm transfers the turkeys to our vehicle

The Story

Back in October, a NHARL board member “reserved” a turkey at Charmingfare Farm. When Thanksgiving approached, there was form to complete, and customers were asked to enter the size turkey they wanted. The NHARL board member entered0 lbs,” and included a note. She said that she’d had a “change of heart,” and asked if she could take her turkey home as a pet.

To their credit, Charmingfare Farm was willing to do it.

“We’ve never had a request like this before,” said the owner of Charmingfare Farm.

NHARL asked for two turkeys, so they would have companionship.

On pick-up day, NHARL waited in line along with all the people picking up dead birds. We conversed loudly about how excited we were to be taking our turkey home alive.

When we got to the counter, we thanked the owner and continued to draw attention to ourselves. We joked that since the Governor had not pardoned a turkey this year, we were pardoning two.

As we were led out to the barn, we heard someone in line say, “Good job,” and another remark, “Now I feel bad.”

The spared turkeys were waiting for us in a crate, right alongside folding tables lined with the bodies of their flockmates.

Our vehicle was strategically parked near the front door, so that when the turkeys were loaded in, it would happen in view of customers coming and going.

A curious little girl, headed to the car with her mother, wanted to see the live turkeys. We invited her to touch the turkey’s soft tail feathers. She was worried about where they were going. “We’re taking these turkeys to a sanctuary,” we said, “so they don’t have to die.”

Her mother looked on with a big smile, despite holding a shopping bag containing a dead bird.

Although Charmingfare Farm shows photos of heritage breed turkeys on their web site, the ones they sell at Thanksgiving are large-breed, “Broad-Breasted White” turkeys (referred to as “Industry” or “Commercial Turkeys”).

The plight of such turkeys includes being bred not for fitness and health, but for fast growth. Rapid growth contributes to a range of devastating health problems, especially leg and joint problems and heart failure. These turkeys aren’t designed for longevity and thus require specialized care. (The Open Sanctury Project is an excellent resource for animal care.)

The turkeys explore their new surroundings the day before Thanksgiving — a day they were not supposed to live to see.

The rescued turkeys are staying with a friend of NHARL’s for the near future but may go to a sanctuary if it is determined that this would be a better home.

NHARL Liberates Snapping Turtle After 24 Years in a Fish Tank

Imagine spending your entire life in solitary confinement, unable to move farther than a few feet in any direction, and never able see another member of your own species.

This was the bleak existence for a “pet” snapping turtle named Shelly who lived in a fish tank in Tilton, NH for 24 years.

Imagining what that turtle’s life must be like kept members of the NH Animal Rights League, and an outraged woman named Hillarie Goldstein, awake at night.

How Could This happen?

Shelly the turtle was taken from the wild as a hatchling by well-meaning but uninformed people who saw her attempting to cross a busy downtown intersection. Although their intentions were good, they made the mistake of keeping the turtle far beyond the time when she could have been safely released back into the wild.

In New Hampshire, it is perfectly legal to take a snapping turtle out of the wild and make it a pet. In fact, you are allowed to take up to two.

This surprises most people, who reasonably assume that taking an animal out of the wild and keeping it captive is illegal.

Turns out there are some animals you can take from the wild, and some that you can’t. Having exclusive control over all captive and noncaptive wildlife in the state, The NH Fish and Game Department makes the rules.

Shelly the turtle a few months before she was liberated

Wildlife Possession Laws in NH

Below is a glimpse into laws surrounding possession of wildlife species occurring in New Hampshire. See the NH Fish and Game Department for a complete list.

Species that cannot be possessed

Any animal classified as threatened, endangered, or of special concern at the federal or state level (e.g., Blanding’s turtles and Eastern hognose snakes).

Note: Although the average person cannot possess these animals, exhibitors can with a permit. 

Species that Can Be Possessed
  • Up to 5 of 13 different listed amphibians, such as spring peepers and red-spotted newts.
  • Up to 2 of 9 different listed reptiles, such as snapping turtles and ring-necked snakes.
Note: To protect breeding females, only snapping turtles of a certain size can be taken, and no indigenous turtle can be taken from May 15 to July 15.

In spite of laws allowing limited possession of these species, the NH Fish & Game Department encourages people to “leave wildlife wild,” adding that, “Populations of some species, especially turtles, can be adversely affected by the removal of a small number of individuals.”

Life in a Tank

The people who took Shelly home became more and more attached to her as time passed. She also became somewhat of an “attraction,” as she was on display in the lobby of the family’s used auto parts store.

As Shelly grew, successively larger fish tanks were purchased each time she outgrew one. But no matter how big the tank, her living conditions bore no resemblance to a natural snapping turtle habitat.

For one, snapping turtles like to be hidden and will dig themselves into the mud. They can also stay out of water for up to two weeks and move surprisingly fast on land.

snapping turtle
Example of a snapping turtle’s natural habitat

Someone Speaks Up

In 2016, Hillarie Goldstein visited the auto parts shop where Shelly was kept and was shocked by her captivity and living conditions. She expressed her concern to the owners, but they believed that they were taking good care of the turtle.

Hillarie also contacted the NH Fish and Game Department, assuming that what she had witnessed must be breaking some law or rule. Cursory welfare checks were performed, and it was determined that the turtle was not being mistreated.

But Hillarie was not deterred. She wrote a letter to the editor and got press coverage in local newspapers.

Despite the publicity, nothing changed for Shelly the turtle.

Press Coverage of Shelly the Turtle

Shelly the turtle a few months before she was liberated

NH Animal Rights League Gets Involved

Still unwilling to give up trying to help Shelly, Hillarie contacted the NH Animal Rights League.

NHARL got involved immediately but ran into the same roadblocks: no laws were being broken, and the owners did not want to give up the turtle.

Nevertheless, NHARL continued to try and convince the owners that Shelly would be better off elsewhere, while at the same time searching for an appropriate home. Being large and long-lived, snapping turtles are difficult to place.

Releasing Shelly back into the wild was not an option. Even if she were able to adapt to the elements and find food, not having built up a resistance to disease and parasites meant she would likely perish. 

A ChAnge of Heart

Years passed and the situation seemed hopeless. Then a new NHARL board member picked up the fight. In approaching Shelly’s captor, she found that he’d had a change of heart and now realized the turtle would be better off elsewhere.

With renewed purpose, NHARL contacted every obvious potential home in NH; then expanded the search to surrounding states.

A promising option at a Vermont farm sanctuary with a pond fell through at the last minute, due to that state’s stricter possession laws.

Then NHARL found the Turtle Rescue League, a licensed native turtle rehabilitation clinic in Southbridge, MA, co-founded by Alexxia Bell and Natasha Nowick.

A friend of NHARL poses in front of the Turtle Rescue League ambulance

The Turtle Rescue League agreed to take Shelly as a permanent resident, and NHARL agreed to provide the funding needed to build her a habitat.

A date was picked to make the transfer!

Liberation Day

On a beautiful September morning, NHARL board member Joan O’Brien met Alexxia Bell and Natasha Nowick of the Turtle Rescue League at the used auto parts store in Tilton, NH where Shelly had spent her first 24 years.

Board member Linda Dionne would be on the other end in Massachusetts to witness the turtle’s arrival at her new home.

The photos below document the events of the day.

Note that Shelly was given a new name that day, as is typical; otherwise, the Turtle Rescue League would have hundreds of turtles named “Shelly.”  

Settling in to Her new home

These photos of Miękki (previously named Shelly) were taken on October 1, 2021 during an outdoor exercise session.

Her shell turns up at the bottom, when it should be rounded, because her diet was deficient in calcium. Lacking wild vegetation or other good sources of calcium, her body was forced to take the calcium it needed from her shell.

As you can see, Miękki still has some weight to lose.  🙂

Speaking Up for Farmed Animals at the Walk for the Animals

On Sep 19, New Hampshire Animal Rights League was on site at the Pope Memorial SPCA’s Walk for the Animals, a fundraiser including a 1-mile and 3-mile walk.

Surrounded by dogs, we spread the message that farmed animals are really no different from our companion animals. Cows and pigs are just as capable of feeling pain, grief, and joy — and they also want to run and play!

NHARL at Pope Memorial
Volunteer Caelin Graber chats with former state representative Richard Ames

We displayed the following posters, to convey “Why love one and eat the other?”

Poster re-created for NHARL by Holley Ackerson with permission from the artist, Drewby

Along with giving out information about all the good reasons to eat plants, not animals, we handed out WHIMZEES vegetable-based dental chews.

WHIMZEES come in different fun shapes, including an alligator. As we explained to one family that the chews were not made from animals, their little boy remarked, “But it’s an alligator.”  🙂

Delicious Afternoon at Vegan Fall Market

New Hampshire Animal Rights League was on site at the This Stop Is Willoughby fall mini market on Sunday, Sep 12 in downtown Dover, NH (home of Roots vegan cafe and CAKE. vegan bakery).

We met many vegans, and people moving in that direction, and spread the word about the work we do. Lots of visitors entered to win the Halloween baking raffle prize, signed up for our mailing list, and expressed interest in getting more involved.

There were Lovebird Donuts and ice cream from Like No Udder at the market—plus Camberville Dog Treats at our booth—so no one went hungry!

We’ll be back again on Oct. 17, in costume for Halloween!

Successful Booth at Market Days Festival 2021

New Hampshire Animal Rights League is thrilled to share the news of our highly successful outreach efforts at the Market Days Festival in downtown Concord, NH.

During this three-day event (August 19-21), we spread the word about the work we do for all animals with a focus on promoting a vegan lifestyle.

Being situated next to the Col’s Kitchen tent made our mission all the easier, as Col’s plant-based eatery was grilling up delicious vegan burgers all weekend!


  • Gathered more than 150 new names for our mailing list.
  • Made meaningful connections with hundreds of people who care about animals.
  • Gave out postcards with our top tips for going vegan.
  • Offered discounted memberships.
  • Lured festival-goers with a chance to win a Ninja Professional 1000-Watt blender (useful for vegan cooking!).
  • Got interviewed by Concord TV!

Goodie Bags

We also handed out close to 200 “goodie” bags containing vegan literature (sampling below), stickers, and vegan cookies from Lenny and Larry’s and Divvie’s.

Eye-Opening Video

We enticed more than 100 people to watch the following 1-minute video from Animal Outlook about “Humanewashing”— those deceptive marketing tactics designed to make us think that meat, egg, and dairy companies care about the welfare of farmed animals.

Those who watched the video received a free can of vegan cold brew coffee from RISE Brewing Co. along with some conversation about what they had seen.

Veganism is on the Rise

To our delight we met many people who were already vegan — such as “Angel” pictured below. Looks like Angel is getting enough protein…

Thank you to all our supporters and to everyone who stopped by to learn about the immense suffering of farmed animals.

Together, we will bring it to an end.

July 2021 Newsletter

In our July 2021 Newsletter, we are excited to announce our plans for getting back out into the community to spread the animal rights message. Our first post-pandemic event will be tabling at the Concord Market Days Festival, and there are still a few volunteer slots to fill.

On the social side, we are delighted to be holding our popular annual summer picnic again in August. This is a great opportunity to re-connect with old friends and perhaps make some new ones!

This issue also includes a delicious summer picnic pasta salad recipe and a list of places to get vegan ice cream in NH.

Lastly, we are thrilled to bring you an interview with former board member Peter Marsh about his work for animals and the release  of his new book.

My Turn: It’s not all mint juleps and fancy hats

Op-Ed in Concord Monitor
May 5, 2021

It’s not all mint juleps and fancy hats

When I was a kid, my favorite movie was “Phar Lap,” based on the true story of an Australian racehorse. I loved that movie and that horse. It was tragic and made me cry in heartbreak. A kind boy trains a mistreated horse, and then he wins and wins and wins horse races.

As moving and memorable as that movie was, it never made me particularly curious about the realities of horse racing. I thought jockeys were interesting, and the horses were extraordinary specimens of beauty, strength and agility. I would wonder about the treatment of the horses from time to time, but that was it.

Fast forward to today. Working with the NH Animal Rights League, I volunteered to research the reality of horse racing because of last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. And here are the facts.

According to The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database, nearly 10 horses died every week at American racetracks in 2018. This data is just the ones dying at the tracks. According to the organization Horseracing Wrongs, over 1,000 racehorses died on-site in 2019. That is about 20 a week and does not count deaths from other sites related to horse racing (private training facilities, euthanized on farms, the thousands of “retired” ones sold to slaughter).

Since 2010, state racing officials have tallied more than 1,400 thoroughbred deaths in Pennsylvania alone. That is one state (and the state industry is propped up by $3 billion in government subsidies.)

Although the use of illegal performance-enhancing and pain masking drugs is rampant in horse racing, even if a horse is drug-free, the strain of a 1,200-pound animal storming down the track at 40 mph exerts incredible stress on the horse’s comparatively fragile legs.

Once-great horses can end up in the lowest tier races. “It’s all about the money. You have wealthy owners that get a horse, it earns $1 million, then it’s dumped in a claiming race for a low-end trainer to run the snot out of the horse,” said Lee Midkiff, the part-owner of a Kentucky Derby winner. “Horses are discarded quickly.” (“Betting on Horses Lives,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/25)

And it seems horse racing cannot be reformed. Look at the example of Santa Anita in California. They hit the news in 2019 because of the near-weekly deaths of horses at one venue – 49 died between July 2018 and June 2019.

Yet despite the deaths and an extensive investigation, the District Attorney’s task force did not find evidence of criminal animal cruelty or unlawful conduct relating to the equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park. So, business as usual. And that is the problem. Reforming an inherently cruel industry is impossible. Deaths are still happening at Santa Anita as recently as less than a month ago.

Ending horse racing is within our power. Look to greyhound racing for proof of that. Only three states now have greyhound tracks. After a long awareness campaign and the changing of laws by animal rights activists, we have realized that racing dogs for monetary profit is not okay, and the same is true of horses.

Horses have a long history of working for us. They helped plow our fields, pulled our wagons, went to war with us, and even died on our battlefields. Isn’t it time we do something for them?

You can educate yourself and the people in your life. Romanticizing the Kentucky Derby and horseracing is harder to do when you know the facts.

Don’t support the horse racing industry, even indirectly. Racetracks such as Santa Anita Park host many events, making them money. Do not attend any events at racetracks.

Support organizations helping horses and working to end horse racing (horseracingwrongs.org is a great resource), like Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester.

At Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, a horse with the horrible name of “Who Took the Money” was so upset pre-race she flipped to the ground, her rider falling off. Then she ran and desperately tried to escape the track. But there was nowhere to go, and it was heartbreaking to watch. This equine youngster did not sign up for this cruel life. She was scheduled to run in the fifth race but was “scratched” because of this incident.

The trainer of the horse who won the main event at Churchill Downs this year is Bob Baffert, who has over 30 drug violations through the years. Baffert should not be allowed near a racetrack after years of drugging horses, but instead, he is a hall of famer for having won seven Kentucky Derbies.

You will hear none of this from the mainstream media. Just a glamorization of silly-hatted folks drinking mint juleps.

(Emily Murphy is a board member of the NH Animal Rights League.)

March 2021 Newsletter

The March 2021 Newsletter for the New Hampshire Animal Rights Group is now available.

We hope that you enjoy this latest edition of our newsletter. We hit the ground running in 2021, beginning with our online vegan cooking demo series in January (a.k.a. “Veganuary”). Read all about this initiative and the other ways we are promoting animal-free eating and supporting local vegan businesses.

We have also expanded some of our most successful ongoing programs, including our free No Hunting signs and Living with Beavers grant program.

Lastly, please note that 2021 is an election year for our board of directors. Be on the look-out for the nomination ballots in the coming months. If you’ve been thinking about how you could get more involved helping animals, consider joining our board!

Letter to the Editor: Here’s hoping pandemic kills the fur business

Letter to the Editor
Union Leader
December 2, 2020

Here’s hoping pandemic kills off the fur business

It has been a difficult year for businesses, but one business that should fail is the fur business. Noted for its cruelty, it is a business we can do without. It is certainly a business a fur-bearing animal can do without. Whether being intensively confined on a fur farm and anally electrocuted or caught in a body-gripping trap and bashed in the head until dead, the animals will rejoice at the end of these cruel industries if they could. Many of us will rejoice with them and for them.

Fur-free Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when animal rights activists take to the streets to protest fur will not happen in many areas this year. In NH, the protest that targets trapping has been canceled.

Trappers are an uncaring bunch of people. If you are on social media, you have probably seen the pictures; the smiling trappers squatting just out of reach of the bloody pawed frightened animal. What kind of person thinks this is something to be proud enough of that he would pose for a picture while a living and breathing animal is suffering behind him?

Please keep the animals who suffer and die for fur in your thoughts when you begin to shop. Many retailers have stopped selling fur. If we refuse to buy it, the rest will follow. Be kind, you will never regret it.