On a peaceful acre of land, surrounded by a cow, three goats, two pigs, eight chickens, three turkeys, two ducks and 11 cats, Michelle Lukasiewicz has created a life that many animal lovers dream about.
“From a very young age I always felt compassion for animals,” says Lukasiewicz.
Five years ago, Lukasiewicz redesigned her typical suburban life. She purchased a property and created a sanctuary for abused, abandoned or neglected animals so that they could live out their lives with companionship and peace.
“Animals can’t speak for themselves,” she says. “They need us to be their voice. Some humans take horrendous advantage of the fact that they’re powerless and we do whatever we want to them.”
To fight back against animal cruelty, Lukasiewicz spends nearly all of her free time giving back to animal advocacy organizations.
As a mentor for Animal Defense League of Arizona, Lukasiewicz trains fellow community members on how to safely catch feral cats living in their communities so they can be spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Lukasiewicz also fosters for Rescuing Animals in Need, which enables her to be a temporary home for kittens that need extra care until they can be adopted.
Not only does Lukasiewicz provide direct care to animals, she is involved in legislative efforts to improve their lives. As a Humane Society of the United States district leader for the fifth congressional district, which covers parts of Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek, Lukasiewicz encourages others in her district to meet with legislators and urge them to support animal-friendly legislation.
“It’s so easy. They’re really nice and the representatives and senators want to hear from their constituents,” Lukasiewicz says.
In addition to her full-time job as a tax manager, Lukasiewicz is treasurer for Humane Voters of Arizona. Each year they assemble a humane scorecard for all Arizona legislators that tracks their voting record on animal-related legislation.
Her greatest passion is helping people make the connection between animals suffering on factory farms and the food on their plates. She loves introducing visitors to Rosie, the cow, who often snuggles with Zeus, the pig. There’s also Snowy, a goat that goes for walks on a leash, and Alfonso, the turkey, who greets visitors with his macho display of feathers.
“They’re no different than our dogs or cats,” Lukasiewicz says. “They want freedom, love and to feel like they belong.”
It’s clear that Arizona’s animals are lucky to have Lukasiewicz on their side. She is a great example of how one person can make a difference.
“If you can give back, you should. It makes you feel good and it’s our duty,” Lukasiewicz says.
Josephine Morris is a Chandler-based outreach coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States.