People with Purpose: Peace on earth and goodwill to all farm animals

Posted on 12 Dec 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Edgars Mission Pam Ahern with Red Baron the rooster

Pam Ahern created animal sanctuary Edgar’s Mission, near Lancefield in central Victoria, so visitors could learn the stories of the rescued farm animals who live there – and join the dots to create a kinder world.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I grew up in Melbourne, in Thornbury.

From there, through a series of moves and the divorce of my parents, I made my way to country Victoria and have never left.

I was an animal-loving five-year-old who adored my family’s two cats, Blackie and Tiny, and our goofy Labrador, Laddie.

Like most little girls, I also always wanted a pony. Eventually I got my wish and then some.

I went on to become a highly successful equestrian, beyond anything I could have imagined, but I was to give it all up when the eponymous Edgar Alan Pig trotted into my life. He inspired me to get down off my high horse and really champion the cause of animals.

I had always wanted to be a vet. A change in my living arrangements during my teenage years, however, meant I studied accounting to appease my dad.

I never followed that career path though. Everything I did centred on the animals in my life, from my horses to the rescued cats and dogs I would care for.

I cut my teeth in animal rescue by starting the Central Highlands Animal Shelter, taking in all the stray cats and dogs from the three neighbouring shires, getting them healthy and desexed and finding suitable loving homes for them.

There were quite a few fails among those who lived with me for the rest of their joyful days.

It was a really hard slog back in those days as it was way before social media and the internet. I thought I was pretty fancy as I had a typewriter!

Edgars Mission Founder Pam Ahern with Kansas and Ruby the kelpie
Edgars Mission founder Pam Ahern with Kansas and Rubie the kelpie.
"For the wider community Edgar’s Mission gives people a chance to visit the sanctuary and meet or learn the stories of the former farm animals who live here."

How did you come to start Edgar’s Mission?

It was 2003 and the code of practice for pig farming was up for review.

Most people, including myself at the start, wrongly believe that our Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act applies to all animals, but alas no.

When it comes to the animals of this world, we humans really have been guilty of playing favourites, showering affection and animal protection on some animals, yet denying these things to others based upon the form the animal has taken, and our intended use of the animal – nothing to do with the animal themselves.

This review presented a golden opportunity to raise awareness about our flawed animal protection laws.

As luck would have it, James Cromwell, who played farmer Hoggett in the hit movie Babe, was in Australia at the time, and Animals Australia was able to get in touch with him.

A passionate animal activist, James is an incredibly fine and compassionate human being and could not do enough to assist. The opportunity for a story in the Age newspaper arose and that’s when things started to get interesting.

A pig was needed for a photo shoot to highlight the plight of pigs in factory farms. This then sparked the idea to procure our own pig from a piggery. Enter Edgar Alan Pig!

A sanctuary was then needed to provide lifelong loving care for our porcine star. So, we created Edgars Mission, which is named in his honour,

Edgar Alan Pig Edgars Mission 3
Pam with Edgar Alan Pig, who sadly passed away in 2010.

Did you ever think Edgar’s Mission would grow so big?

No, and I did not think Edgar would grow as big as he did, which just goes to prove all things grow with love!

Why is it important the world has an organisation such as Edgar’s Mission?

To me, Edgar’s Mission represents my living apology for all the harm I had visited upon animals.

For the wider community Edgar’s Mission gives people a chance to visit the sanctuary and meet or learn the stories of the former farm animals who live here.

They can learn what their lives are really like, find out who they really are, and then join the dots to a kinder world for all.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Hmm, having enough chocolate to get me through the day! I really take life as it comes, taking my lead from animals and making the most of every opportunity.

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