I first met Kitty at the Berkeley Animal Rights Center, where she constantly is busy. Kitty is a full time activist, and is an artist. She is inspirational, passionate, and a compassionate person. As Kitty is an artist, I asked her to make a piece of art for a shirt, and I offered to pay her. She refused to be paid, and said the money would all go towards a charity.
Kitty is a self-taught artist who tattoos for part time work, and has made several large murals. Some of her mural work can be seen at the Berkeley Animal Rights Center.
Kitty studied at UC Berkeley and received a degree in wildlife ecology and chicano studies. She is fluent in spanish and english. Kitty expressed to me that she is very passionate about both wildlife and immigration. She explained that these topics have been an interest of hers since she was a child. While in middle school she was already getting involved in activism, and fully invested by the age of 15. She shared that she became interested in animal welfare issues after seeing a video of slaughterhouse footage on Myspace.com. She expressed she felt shaken by this imagery. This led to her looking into animal rights and activist groups, and then becoming vegan and an animal rights activist shortly after.
Kitty volunteered with Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) while in high school in Seattle. She then came to Berkeley and became involved in Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) after she had been scouted by Wayne Hsiung after hearing about her getting 10,000 signatures on a petition for the HSUS while she was in Seattle. She had been invited to a potluck at Wayne’s apartment in 2013 and has been organizing with DXE ever since . Also, she participated in Berkeley’s Food Not Bombs, where she helped distribute vegan meals to the unhoused community in the area. She is now in charge of organizing the entire annual Animal Liberation Conference (ALC).
She explained over the last 4 years while living in Richmond, CA she has rescued animals daily in and around the city of Richmond by bringing them into her home, rehabilitating them as needed, and had been re-homing them. As well, she has been involved in pigeon rescues namely within San Francisco. Every month she and others go into the San Francisco Tenderloin District and look for pigeons that have strings or debris wrapped around the legs of the pigeons as this has led to pigeons losing limbs after blood circulation is lost to their limbs. The pigeons are captured, de-stringed, and released back into the wild. While doing this work burritos and water are distributed to the un-housed community.
Kitty also observed the struggle of immigrants in her neighborhood, including undocumented laborers that would stay at the front of stores like Home Depot looking for work. She has often brewed coffee, bought cookies and pastries, socks, and other essentials to bring and distribute to these laborers. Included in the distributions are pamphlets or cards written in spanish that would say “Know your rights,” and explained the laws around their undocumented status and how to protect themselves during incidences of harassment. She has made several trips to Tijuana and volunteered at the “Enclave Caracol” that sheltered refugees from Mexico, Central and South America. Kitty helped with bringing donations, supplies, and clothing while also cleaning the bathrooms and serving food. Kitty has volunteered at a shelter as well.
In all, Kitty does not share her story to get praise. She hopes people recognize she is not anymore special than you, or myself, that we are all capable of doing better, taking action, getting involved, organizing, and doing good work. She hopes that her hard work will provide insight into how one can become and be an activist. As she emphasized, “This is all our fight, and we all need to participate to make this world a better place.” By Vegan Peace Punk