The other day I blogged about animals grieving over the loss of a loved friend, human or animal. I think there is absolutely no doubt that animals have emotions, and deep ones at that. Are there any among you who has not seen Christian the Lion and his joyful, loving reunion with the men who raised him, even after several years in the wild?
Everyone who cares for animals knows that they have emotions, and that they feel pain, fear, terror, love, anxiety, joy—any of the emotions which humans have long maintained were theirs alone. Some people do not believe that: They think animals were put on earth for human use. Without getting into a discussion of evolution, I can not think that animals were created just for mankind's pleasure. While it is true that carnivorous animals stalk, hunt, and bring down prey, I think that wholesale slaughter is inhumane. Or perhaps it is VERY human.
People hunt, and if they are decent, they hunt on foot, giving the animal at least a chance. They don't shoot wolves from airplanes, the don't have birds who have never been free released from a cage only to experience three seconds of flight before being shot down. That isn't hunting. I am not even sure what to call it—perhaps one of you has got an appropriate word.
People who fish also allow the fish the chance to reject the bait—they don't bait their hooks and then shoot the fish or fish where they are schooling.
What haunts me most, however, are factory farms and agri-businesses. In these cases, the animals –let's take pigs, because their living conditions are especially horrific—are raised in solitary confinement, because infection spreads so quickly amongst them. Theya have a feeder, which is the only other creature whom they see. They exist in pens which are too small for them to turn around. They don't walk in the grass nor root around, nor do they socialize with other pigs, and that is all sorts of wrong. Pigs are very sociable creatures. They learn not only from their mothers, but also from association with other pigs on how to be, well, a pig. They have very little muscle, because then the meat is more tender. Sows who breed give birth to litter after litter, and that is the only pig- on -pig association. Generally, there is not interplay between male and female pigs. Reproduction is carried out by unnatural means—pigs are denied even that contact.
When the piglets are big enough, they are taken from the mothers and fattened. The companies who rely on these inhumane methods to make huge profits try to get them pig from birth to slaughter in as short a period as possible.
I hate to even think of this, let alone write about it, but slaughter houses are horrifying. The pigs are taken by truck without food or water (they are going to be slaughtered, after all), crowded into tiny spaces, frightened and disoriented, and then they go through a "line." Fist, they are stunned with a bold gun. Sometimes this renders them unconscious, but sometimes it doesn't. Then a leg is shackled and the pig is hoisted upside down where it then moves to the person who slits its throat. They still may not be dead when their organs are removed and they are put in boiling water. They are screaming all the while.
Cows don't get much better treatment, nor sheep, and chickens are a whole other matter.
My family, as I have mentioned, had a farm, and yes, beeves were kept, some as milk cows and some for meat. But the slaughtering was done so that there was not widespread panic and fear, and the cows went out to pasture everyday, and the pigs had their companions.
I won't eat pig again. I have to start somewhere. I love a pork loin, but I can not even look at hams with all of them almost exactly alike. That sameness, you see, is because while the pigs are hanging upside down, hopefully dead, the carving knives automatically cut the exact some portions from each animal. That is why each pig is fed exactly the same, and why conformity is so important: They fit the knives better.
I don't suggest you stop eating meat, but I do suggest that you buy from companies that allow free ranging animals to grow to maturity. I will never eat a Smithfield ham again.
And if someone tells you, "oh, animals don't feel pain," or 'they don't know what's going on," or 'they don't care anyhow," try to educate them.
Animals feel, and hear, and smell, and see, and suffer, and fear. Their final two or three days shouldn't be so unthinkable.
Written by Gay Fifer, Parsley Hollow, Inc.
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