Most days, I am torn over how some animals are protected by laws and others are deemed disposable and unworthy of protection. Farm animals, research animals, wildlife, and stray animals seem to be the exception to animal protection laws. As an attorney and human being, I find that unacceptable. And what baffles me is how we, as humans, have gotten to the point where we have decided that some animals should be protected (like companion animals) but others are not. Haven’t we all learned that animals, no matter the species, feel pain? And most species, including those in the “excepted class” feel emotions and are bonded to their families.
So today, I was sickened by yet another story of how people torture and abuse animals. This time, it is from an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals at Ontario Livestock Sales, an auction in southernCalifornia. Seven employees and the owner have been criminally charged for beating, kicking and stomping sheep, goats, pigs, including sick and injured animals who were left to languish and die. While I am thrilled that criminal charges have been filed, I am heartbroken that humans could engage in this behavior.
What would bring a person to the point of doing that? There is no justifiable reason for engaging in such tortuous conduct. Just because these animals were likely being raised for human consumption, it does not mean that they should be treated this way.
These stories are becoming far too common and I fear that Americans will become immune to the horrors. We have been given so much evidence about the unhealthy situations at factory farms that contribute to contaminated food sources, the horrific abuses of the animals, the harm to environment from factory farms, and the cavalier attitudes of the farming industry towards all animals and those of us working to protecting them, that it makes me wonder why we tolerate this as a nation? We have just accepted as status quo that animals are here for our consumption. Americans just continue to eat more meat, we get unhealthier, fatter, contradict diseases that did not exist 50-70 years ago, and we die earlier. So who’s the smarter species?
Until we, as a society, decide that animals are not here for our gruesome pleasures or to be our punching bags, we will continue to see ourselves in a violent society and accept a divide in what animals are entitled to protection animals and those that are considered disposable (or eatable). How did we get to this point?
Our message should be very simple: If you work in the farming or livestock industry, you need to learn how to properly and humanely handle animals. Period. If you cannot handle it, go work elsewhere. For everyone else, we need to remove the demand for animals used for human consumption. I have generally stayed away from advocating for what people should and should not consume because I feel it’s a personal choice. But until people can rise up to a level of compassion where farm animals are treated humanely, then I think we need to take away the demand by changing our lifestyles. The lifestyle change can be quite simple:
- One day a week, avoid eating meat or any animal product (such as dairy, eggs). If you can, completely change your diet to avoid meat and/or animal products.
- Only purchase products that are cruelty-free so that the demand for animals in research is reduced and eliminated.
- If you see someone being harmful to wildlife or strays, take action and do something about it.
Such small steps taken collectively by the masses would tip our values more towards compassion and away from the gluttony of selfish human consumption. Thank you for letting me rant (I can’t say that I feel any better).
What other ideas can you share to help us remove animals from harmful situations?