When Alex Pacheco has an idea, it impacts millions of people and animals. From his early days in the 1970’s fighting Japanese whale ships with Captain Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd to starting the most effective and feared animal rights organization in the world to helping millions of rescues find homes by co-founding Adopt-A-Pet, Alex is a hero to every animal-loving person on the planet. The 600 team recently asked Alex to share some of his earliest memories as an animal advocate. Here’s his story–in his own words.
An unexpected behind the scenes tour of a slaughterhouse. When I was a teenager, I was hitchhiking across Canada and I stopped to visit a friend in Toronto. My friend had a friend who worked at a slaughterhouse. We thought it would be cool to check it out. It was definitely not cool. Actually it was horrifying. From that day forward, it turned my life around and I’ve been helping animals ever since.
Do you ever think about how different your life would have been if you had not visited that slaughterhouse that day?
I would have been a priest. At the time, I was studying to go into the priesthood when I visited the slaughterhouse. All that changed after that day.
Outside of your introduction to animal abuse, what is the most memorable victory or moment for you in your career as an advocate?
The day that I ended my first undercover job. It was September 11, 1980 at the Silver Spring Monkey laboratory. The police raided the lab on my last day of work there. It led to major positive changes for animals. The fact that we were able to get the police department to get involved and raid a federal lab and arrest a doctor was incredible. I never thought it would be possible to do to someone for being cruel to animals in a lab.
What inspired you to start 600?
When i was in Mexico, I was on crowded street filled with heavy traffic. I was walking down the sidewalk and saw three dogs stacked on top of each other. I thought they were dead. They had no fur, some sort of skin disease, and mange. They weren’t dead though. They were resting and trying to stay out of the busy street. It was so sickening to think that this problem could be prevented if we could give them birth control. It could end all this suffering. I thought to myself that we have to be able to solve this problem so I started working on a solution.
Days after I decided to throw myself into ending this suffering, I started investigating the world of birth control and I developed a strategy and a list of crucial criteria. What are the criteria? In short, common sense. First, define the goal: to develop a formula that will allow us to stop free roaming strays from reproducing, and thus permanently end the global overpopulation of stray dogs and cats, humanely, safely, quickly and in my lifetime. What would that formula look like? It would look a little bit like birth control pills, with these differences: First, its for for dogs and cats, not people.Second, it would produce birth control not just for a day at a time, but for a lifetime. Third, instead of having to take it every day, it would only need to be taken one time. Finally, instead of a pill, it needs to be in the form of a cookie. Of course, it also needs to be safe and affordable. In short, these criteria will allow people around the world to end the cycle of suffering.