Ingrid Reilly has always known she wanted to dedicate her life fighting for the justice of others. A 20 year veteran of the NSW Police Force, Ingrid decided a few years ago to combine her experience in law enforcement with her unwavering passion for the protection of animals.
Ingrid speaks to Animal Friendly Life about her passions and how she’s determined to make the world a better and safer place for animals:
I have always loved animals. I grew as the typically horse-obsessed teenager and my year 10 work experience was one week at a vet surgery and one week at the zoo. I have rarely been without a dog in my life.
After I finished school, I didn’t get the marks to become a vet and, with the benefit of hindsight, I don’t know if it would have been a good fit with me anyway. I think my emotional attachment to animals would have made this a difficult career for me. I made an unusual choice of university courses – Bachelor of Applied Science (Equine Studies) which I finished in my early twenties. This led me spending five years in a livestock insurance company – which was a good fit at that time of my life.
I became an on-again, off-again vegetarian in my early 20’s. I can’t remember what fuelled this aside from the general feeling that eating animals did not sit well with me.
I joined the NSW Police nearly 20 years ago and my love of horses and my Equine degree served me well for the few years I spent in the Mounted Police. I left the mounties about nine years ago. During this time, my feelings and actions towards animals and the environment as a whole have slowly evolved. The more I learn about animals and the terrible way some humans treat them, the more I want to change and adapt to help them through my own personal lifestyle choices.
I have become an avid follower and supporter of groups such as Animals Asia, Animals Australia and Voiceless for many years now. Learning about issues like bear bile farming and factory farming gives me horrendous anxiety but I have learnt to educate myself more, rather than turning away.
I lead an almost vegan lifestyle these days and love the way it makes me feel – physically and psychologically. It is my small way of honouring my values and trying to make the world a better place for animals and people. I have learnt how closely tied animal agriculture and environmental issues actually are and I like the way I can make a stand about practices I don’t believe in without having to wait for governments to make a change.
A few years ago I started a little blog named Tread Kindly and that is what I constantly try and do in life. From picking up plastic in the street to riding my bike rather than driving. All these little things add up.
In recent years I’ve tried to bring my love of animals into the work that I do as a police officer. It has been a challenging step in many ways – facing my horror of public speaking was one such hurdle. As a Domestic Violence Liaison Officer I have been able to weave my passion into my work. I am part of a fabulous group called Lucy’s Project. We are a group of different people who are all trying to address the link between animal cruelty and domestic violence within our respective careers. The network of brilliant people has provided me a way of practically addressing the link and it is particularly relevant in my line of work.
I’ve given presentations to police and domestic violence workers to try and increase education and awareness of the link. I’ve been able to help people move on from violent relationships by ensuring that their pets are somewhere safe. For the near future, I’m keen to look at ways we can address the issue of empathy and compassion in young people in the hope that it makes them better, kinder and more law abiding adults.
I am a big believer in the adage that by helping animals we can help people and by helping people we can help animals. I am hopeful that society will learn the value of compassion and kindness towards all life.
-to find out more about Lucy’s Project, visit www.lucysproject.com