Animals at Tilly Foster to be moved for re-enactment
Cannon and black powder musket firings planned for next Saturday at the Tilly Foster Farm in Southeast have raised the ire of animal rights activists throughout the county.
The event is tabbed as "The War of 1812 Re-enactors bring history to life at Tilly Foster Farm." In response to the concerns, it appears a solution has been worked out, in which the animals at the farm will be moved to rear fields, away from the most serious noise.
Animal rights activists had charged the re-enactment would scare the animals, calling it a "potential case of animal cruelty,” in the words of Tom Maxxson of the Animal Rights Federation.
Plans call for a small group of men dressed in 19th century military garb to fire cannons every hour on the half hour starting at 10:30 a.m., while black powder musket firings will take place throughout the day.
The public has been encouraged to visit. Meredith Whipple, executive director of the Tilly Foster Farm, said the re-enactors bring "passion to the story of the War of 1812—the battle to protect the U.S. which was waging war against England over trade restrictions and impressment of American merchant sailors into the British Navy."
Maxxson expressed concern that "smoke and noise will fill the air as the soldiers fire a 700 pound light artillery cannon. Loud noises like those planned are extremely harmful to the well being of animals."
Maxxson called the 4th of July the "toughest day of the year for companion animals. July 5 is historically the busiest day of the year for animal shelters around the U.S. as animals flee in fear from their homes and become strays."
Of course, much of that issue on July 4 relates to fireworks at dusk, and animals not being accustomed to them.
Putnam Legislator Sam Oliverio of Putnam Valley agreed the concerns were valid. Oliverio told the Courier that he was inundated with requests from his constituents demanding that the re-enactment be relocated or canceled. The issue also has become something of a cause on social media sites.
"We are all concerned for the animals at the farm and the potential harm that the black smoke could have on them and to the ecological balance of the farm environment," he said.
Oliverio suggested that the venue be moved to the Putnam Veterans Memorial Park in Kent which is a "much more suitable location for the re-enactment.”
Whipple responded to the concerns Friday afternoon.
She said to ensure that no negative impact would be felt by the animals, employees of the farm would move all of them to the rear fields off Route 312 prior to the event.
Whipple said horses would be relocated to back fields and pony rides would not be offered when the cannon was fired: "Our shepherdess was also contacted, who advised that the sheep will be unharmed since they are used to the backfiring of vehicles, the roaring of motorcycles and the wailing of fire engines and ambulances up and down Route 312."
The farm is indeed next to a busy roadway, and traffic noise is common.