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Posts Tagged ‘Animal Cruelty’

There have been SO many things I’ve wanted to write about lately, but I’ve let summer get the best of me and been a bad little blogger. In an effort to “catch up”, here are just a few of the things I’ve been thinking about the last couple months:

  • If you haven’t seen the documentary THE COVE yet, you need to.  It is a haunting, disturbing, thrilling, and often heartbreaking film about the dolphin trade and consequent slaughter in Japan.  While it will probably make you cry if you are anything like me, it will also inspire you to see how passionate the dolphin advocates are about this issue. They will stop at nothing to end this injustice, and that depth of passion just isn’t prevalent enough. The LA Times wrote up a good review of it if you want to read more.
  • Alec Baldwin wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post about the vilification of Michael Vick, and how in a lot of ways it’s hypocritical of a lot of people – specifically, if you are a meat eater, a leather-wearer, and an animal user.  Not that what Vick did can be in any way condoned, mind you, but that we all need to look at what we do day-to-day to contribute to animal suffering, and ask ourselves if it’s really worth it?  Are dogs any more special than pigs, cows, turkeys?  Should we condemn Michael Vick while letting ourselves off the hook just because we aren’t the ones directly torturing these animals?
  • This NYTimes.com article about the treatment of aging horses that have been used for racing is a great read.  It talks about the need for retirement homes, essentially, for these majestic animals.  About 3000 race horses are retired each year, and right now only about 1/3 of those animals find such homes. Most are abandoned or euthanized, or sometimes sold into slaughter.  Quite the “thank you” for years of making their owners mvdayposteroney, huh?
  • As for our human animal counterparts, one of the stories that really got my attention this summer was about the pervasiveness and brutality of rape in Congo.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Congo this summer is what first brought my attention to this matter, and I haven’t been able to stop reading about it.  It is devastating.  While women are the main victims of these crimes, Congolese men are increasingly being targeted.  One organization that is trying to help victims (primarily women) there is called VDay, a non profit established by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues (a show I highly recommend).  Check out her site and see how you can help.

With that, I promise to post more regularly – enjoy the reading!  Oh, and check out my new food blog: Veg Out With Us!

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This video nicely highlights the insanity in killing “racing” horses when they become injured.  I think my favorite parts are when Shawn’s mother says “it’s just so expensive to keep a lame gymnast”; and then when the host asks her if  Shawn was in a lot of pain at the end, and she replies, “oh no, no, no – there was no pain – just a quick shot to the back of the head.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Gymnast Shawn Johnson Put To Sleep Af…“, posted with vodpod

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Kathy Bauck

Kathy Bauck

Kathy Bauck, owner of Pick of the Litter Kennels in New York Mills, MN, was recently found guilty of four misdemeanors: one count of animal cruelty, and 3 counts of animal torture.  Her crimes involved dunking dogs into vats of insecticide and performing surgery on dogs without a license. Several dogs at the kennel were too weak and thin to stand up, and this woman has up to 1300 dogs in her “care” at a time. An officer of the ASPCA reported her to the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act back in 1998 and no action was taken.  Eleven years later, we finally get some kind of justice.

However, you might have noticed above that she was only convicted of misdemeanors – not felonies. In fact, she was cleared of all felony charges. Apparently animal TORTURE only ranks as a “misdemeanor”. In case you’re wondering what the definition of a misdemeanor is (as I was):  A crime punishable by less than a year of imprisonment in a county jail and/or a fine is considered a misdemeanor. Examples of misdemeanors include shoplifting, simple assault, disturbing the peace, and driving under the influence (provided no one is injured).

This monster tortured innocent animals, and will likely see no more than 20 days inside a jail cell. She is still allowed to keep her kennel and keep breeding animals. The only stipulation is that she has to agree to unannounced inspections.  By whom, I am wondering?  Clearly the USDA isn’t “on the ball” (yes, I realize they are understaffed, but it is their responsibility, and they let this go for 11 years!), so who exactly will be inspecting her and reporting her?  Who will do anything to make sure she doesn’t torture any more dogs?

I don’t have a lot of faith that any justice has actually been served and it is incredibly frustrating. It feels like the “victories” are so small sometimes, doesn’t it??

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Source: NY Times online

Source: NY Times online

The pig you see here being dangled by the leg is still just a baby, and by now he is already dead and thrown away for absolutely no reason, as are the rest of the 300,000 pigs in Egypt.  According to the New York Times, “Egypt ordered the pig slaughter even though there hasn’t been a single case of swine flu there and no evidence that pigs have spread the disease.” I find this so frustrating.  How typical that we humans blame this epidemic on pigs, and kill them without a second thought!  Because they’re expendable!

How can people be so ignorant?  This virus was created by HUMANS when we put thousands and thousands of pigs into small quarters (breeding grounds for disease), it is spreading human to human, and we are killing pigs?  Does this make sense? It seems to me that we are being shown a giant, flashing sign that is begging us to stop factory farming, and instead of listening, we are killing sentient beings who have nothing to do with this disease beyond being innocent victims of it.  I don’t have the words to describe my shock, anger, and frustration with this whole situation. All I know is that if humans don’t wake up soon and smell the tempeh-bacon, we’re all going to be dead, and we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

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polarSometimes being an animal rights advocate is emotionally exhausting.  Today is one of those days.

Last night I was watching Animal Planet, as I often do, and the show was about polar bears in the wild.  There was a  mama polar bear and her 2 cubs who were not yet full grown, but also not tiny. Due to lack of food, a big male polar bear was following the threesome in the hopes that he could eat one of the cubs (apparently they will eat their own kind if they can’t find other food).  The mama and her cubs walked for hours trying to get away from him, but finally one of the cubs collapsed from exhaustion and hunger.   The mama bear was trying to get him back up but she couldn’t and eventually she had to leave him so that she could protect her other cub and herself.  I had to turn the channel before the big male bear got to the dying cub.  And then I cried.  Yes, I cried at the cruelty of nature.

What immediately hit me after getting so emotional about this is how nature is kind in comparison to the horrible cruelties humans impose on non-human animals, especially “food” animals.  That cub probably lived just as long as any pig does on today’s factory farms…and he at least lived his short life FREE.  He knew the love of his mother, got to swim, play, and run around.  Chickens, turkeys, pigs and other farmed animals get nothing of the sort. They spend their lives cooped up in tiny cages, feeling pain and sorrow every day.

So then I got even sadder.  Then today I read a story about a man who broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house and put her 5 month old puppy in the oven and killed him, and I got EVEN SADDER.  I mean, how can a human being be so incredibly heartless? HOW?

Anyway, the thing about caring so much about animals is that it lends itself all too easily to sadness.  I still have not figured out how to completely combat this.  How do you find the energy sometimes to go about your every day life when you know how much suffering there is in the world around you – human and non-human?  And how do we ever know if we’re doing enough?  The truth is that I never feel like I’m doing enough.  I’m vegan, and I educate others about veganism; I write this blog; I volunteer for an animal rights organization doing office work and event planning; and I have a dog and a cat whom I love dearly….but none of it really feels like enough.  Will it ever?  Will I ever hear a story about animal cruelty and not feel like surely I’m NOT doing enough if things like that are still happening?  I don’t know.  Anyone have any thoughts/advice?

(Sorry this post is such a downer….I guess it’s just one of those days.)

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Last night HBO premiered a show called Death on a Factory Farm. This is a small segment. I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, and am not sure if I’ll be able to stomach it, but I do have a friend recording it for me.  Has anyone else seen it?  What were your thoughts?

Viewer discretion advised on the clip below…

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To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.

~Romain Rolland, Nobel Prize 1915

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All too often even the most egregious cases of animal abuse go without any substantial punishment. This seems even more true when the victim is a “food” animal.  However, I saw some good news today that gives me some hope that times may be changing (slowly, but changing nonetheless).

Around Thanksgiving last year, People for the Ethical Treatement of Animals (PETA) released undercover video footage of Aviagen Turkeys Inc. slaughterhouse employees abusing live turkeys.   I am happy to report that last week three of those workers were indicted on  19 counts of animal abuse, 11 of them felony charges that could carry significant jail time.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Each felony charge is punishable by up to five years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. The misdemeanor charges carry possible sentences of six months and up to $2,000 in fines.”  These punishments are unusually harsh in a farm animal abuse case, but given the severity of the abuse, I think they are totally appropriate.  Until people like this are held accountable for their actions and severe punishments are the norm, the abuse will continue.  Companies engaged in any kind of animal production or handling need to make it painfully clear that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and our legal system  needs to punish people accordingly when such cases do arise.  I am glad that in this case it seems that the courts are taking this abuse seriously.

I met a few turkeys when I visited Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen.  Having heard my whole life how stupid turkeys are, I was surprised to see that they’re actually quite bright animals, and that they, like pigs, cows, dogs, and other animals, have rich emotional lives.  They are sweet, kind animals, and I am so happy I got to meet some of them. It reinforced even more why I choose not to eat them.  Look at how beautiful they are!

Turkey being petp5094349p5094317

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At the moment our human world is based on the suffering and destruction of millions of non-humans. To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion. Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society.
~Arthur Conan Doyle

This quote kind of says it all, but because I’m a loud mouth, I’ll happily add my own two cents to it!

People often ask me why I made the decision to go vegan.   I can point to certain events leading up to that moment that are helpful in explaining how I got here, but at the same time, when I really think about it, it’s almost as if it wasn’t a choice at all. Of course I wasn’t forced to be vegan – that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that it was almost like I had been asleep before and suddenly I woke up and saw the cruelty and suffering around me; being vegan seemed like something I simply had to do. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had been contributing to animal suffering for 26+ years. I couldn’t look the other way anymore and continue to act as though I hadn’t just had a complete change in perception.

One of my favorite parts of Doyle’s comment is when he states that “nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again”. We all experience awakenings throughout our lives, whether it’s because we fall in love or get our hearts broken, find religion, have children or any number of other major life events. These things change us permanently and profoundly–just as my awakening changed me. You see, I had always considered myself to be an animal lover, and yet I ate some animal or animal product every single day. What I really was was a dog and cat lover. Then, somehow I opened up my eyes to the beauty and wonder of all non-human animals; I forced myself to imagine the pain and suffering that farmed animals must experience every single day on factory farms, how excruciating each day must be for them… For me, it was virtually impossible not to have a complete change in perception.

I believe that most humans have the capacity to connect with non-human animals, but that we are discouraged from doing so from a very young age. We are taught that dogs and cats are companions, and cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, turkeys, etc. are for eating and/or using in some other way.  It isn’t always easy and it can be scary (as change often is), but if you can open your heart up to the joy and beauty of other non-human animals, you will realize that they are not here to serve human purposes, and they most certainly are not here to endure senseless pain and cruelty only to be brutally killed for our dinner. They are here for their own reasons: to play in wide open pastures, to forage for food to nourish their own bodies, to create and nurture their families, and just to enjoy life. Who are we to take that from them?

My hope is that more people will allow themselves to see animals for the amazing individuals that they are; that more people will have their very own vegan awakening.

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What’s for dinner?  This, which can be seen in a recent PETA undercover video:

[The video shows] stomach-turning brutality. Workers are seen smashing birds into loading cages like basketballs, stomping heads and breaking necks, apparently for fun, even pretending to rape one.

On the tape, one worker describes losing his temper at a tom who pecked him, marking its head with a pen so he could find it again, fetching a broomstick, ramming it down the bird’s gullet and holding it up in the air while shouting “Let this be a lesson to y’all” at the rest of the flock.

His supervisor later excuses such behavior by saying, “Every once and a while, everybody gets agitated and has to kill a bird.” Noting that only two of his crew “really like to do it,” he says they are otherwise steady workers and adds: “As long as they don’t do it a lot, I don’t really say too much about it.”

Well, that sounds DELICIOUS, doesn’t it?!  Um, yeah, I think I’ll stick to my Field Roast Celebration Roast. What about you?

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