Alyssa Moore, who will be a senior next fall at Maria Carrillo High School, holds Tractor, her cat, and Glory, her dog, last month in her Santa Rosa home. (Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)


Alyssa Moore is passionate about animal rights, which, as she pointed out, is different from animal welfare.

When a person says they believe in animal welfare, the 17-year-old Maria Carrillo High School junior explained, it means they accept animal use, and possibly abuse, if the treatment was deemed “humane.”

Believing in animal rights, she said, means you “don’t think it’s justifiable under any circumstances to use or abuse animals for food, clothing or entertainment.”

Moore, who is a vegetarian, lives her convictions, as her teachers and classmates found out when she rose to the defense of a chicken during a school rally.

The chicken, which had been placed inside a wire enclosure, was to be set loose so that four teams of two students, each with one leg strapped together, would try to catch it.

When Moore found out about the event 15 minutes prior to its start, she tried to convince school administrators to stop it.

When that didn’t work, she planted herself inside the pen and stood in front of the chicken to protect it.

The tactic worked. The rally ended without the hen being chased.

“I’m not that outgoing socially, I would say, but for animal rights, not a problem,” Moore said. “That’s just what needed to be done.”

Moore said the technique she used is similar to that used by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to protect seals from being hunted and killed.

She considers Paul Watson, the group’s founder, one of her heroes.

Moore said it’s not hard to be a teenage vegetarian, although a dearth of animal-free options at her school’s cafeteria means she usually brings her own lunch.

Moore was diagnosed with scoliosis, so she has to make sure she get the proper amounts of calcium and other nutrients. For that reason she occasionally eats eggs and cheese.

Her parents have asked her to wait until she’s 18 before she fulfills her desire to become vegan and eschew animal products entirely.

Alyssa and a friend started a new club this year called Earth Alliance. They host weekly meetings on campus to discuss environmental and animal rights issues and to plan fundraising events.

Alyssa also brings a vegan goodie for everyone to share.

She hopes to go to college after high school. UC Santa Cruz is among the institutions she has her eye on.

“I’m looking forward to being an adult and moving forward with my activism, but at the same time, I don’t know if I’m quite ready to go off to college just yet,” she said.


Age: 17

Lives in: Santa Rosa with her parents and sister

What’s on her iPod: The Black Keys, Jack Johnson, Coldplay

Favorite hobby: Creative writing

Dream job: Field researcher or director of a nonprofit

Favorite TV show: “The West Wing”

Favorite food: Vegetarian Mexican

Favorite subject: English