Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There has been a lot said, usually from those that comment from the periphery - refusing to get involved in the very real dilemna our country faces in its treatment of animals -about PETA euthanizing animals.
I understood immediately why this was probably the case but it was speculation.
I have removed the disturbing photos that went along with the article but I think that it is important to fathom what these people see on a day in day out basis.

From Ingrid Newkirk:

In my first year working at a grossly substandard animal shelter in Maryland, I forced myself to go in early to euthanize dogs by holding them in my arms and gently helping them escape an uncaring world without trauma or pain and to spare them from being stabbed haphazardly—while they were fully conscious, terrified and aware—in the general vicinity of their hearts with needles blunt from reuse and left to thrash on the floor until they finally died by the callous people who would arrive later to do the job.
I always wonder how anyone cannot recognize that there is a world of difference between painlessly euthanizing animals out of compassion—aged, injured, sick, and dying animals whose guardians can't afford euthanasia, for instance—as PETA does, and causing them to suffer terror, pain, and a prolonged death while struggling to survive on the streets, at the hands of untrained and uncaring "technicians," or animal abusers.
It's easy to point the finger at those who are forced to do the "dirty work" caused by a throwaway society's casual acquisition and breeding of dogs and cats who end up homeless and unwanted, but at PETA, we will never turn our backs on neglected, unloved, and homeless animals—even if the best we can offer them is a painless release from a world that doesn't have enough heart or homes with room for them. It makes it easy for people to throw stones at us, but we are against all needless killing: for hamburgers, fur collars, dissection, sport hunting―the works. PETA handled far more animals than 2,124 in 2008. In fact, we took in more than 10,000 dogs and cats and work very hard to persuade people to spay and neuter their animals and to commit to a lifetime of care and respect for them. We go so far as to transport animals to and from our spay/neuter clinics, where they are spayed or neutered and given vet care, often for free! Since 2001, PETA's low- to no-cost spay-and-neuter mobile clinics, SNIP and ABC, have sterilized more than 50,000 animals, preventing hundreds of thousands of animals from being born, neglected, abandoned, abused, or euthanized when no one wanted them. And on a national level, PETA is focusing on the root of the problem through our Animal Birth Control (ABC) campaign.
If anyone has a good home, love, and respect to offer, we beg them: Go to a shelter and take one or two animals home. The problem is that few people do that, choosing instead to go to a breeder or a pet shop and not "fixing" their dogs and cats, which contributes to the high euthanasia rate that animal shelters face. Most of the animals we took in and euthanized could hardly be called "pets," as they had spent their lives chained up in the back yard, for instance. They were unsocialized, never having been inside a building of any kind or known a pat on the head. Others were indeed someone's, but they were aged, sick, injured, dying, too aggressive to place, and the like, and PETA offered them a painless release from suffering, with no charge to their owners or custodians.
Every day, PETA's fieldworkers help abused and neglected dogs—many of them pit bulls nowadays and many of them forced to live their lives on chains heavy enough to tow an 18-wheeler—by providing them with food; clean water; lightweight tie-outs; deworming medicine; flea, tick, and fly-strike prevention; free veterinary care; sturdy wooden doghouses stuffed with straw bedding; and love.
What we see is enough to make you lose faith in humanity. One pit bull we gained custody of, named Asia, looked like a skeleton covered with skin when PETA released her from the 15-pound chain she had been kept on for years. Asia suffered from three painful and deadly intestinal obstructions, which prevented her from keeping any food down. She faced an agonizing, lingering death, so our veterinarian recommended euthanasia to end her suffering. We pursued criminal charges against those responsible for her condition, leading to their conviction for cruelty to animals. That is just one of the dozens of cases we see every week.
The majority of adoptable dogs are never brought through our doors (we refer them to local adoption groups and walk-in animal shelters). Most of the animals we house, rescue, find homes for, or put out of their misery come from miserable conditions, which often lead to successful prosecution and the banning of animal abusers from ever owning or abusing animals again.
As long as animals are still purposely bred and people aren't spaying and neutering their companions, open-admission animal shelters and organizations like PETA must do society's dirty work. Euthanasia is not a solution to overpopulation but rather a tragic necessity given the present crisis. PETA is proud to be a "shelter of last resort," where animals who have no place to go or who are unwanted or suffering are welcomed with love and open arms.
Please, if you care about animals, help prevent more of them from being born only to end up chained and left to waste away in people's back yards, suffering on mean streets where people kick at them or shoo them away like garbage, tortured at the hands of animal abusers, or, alas, euthanized in animal shelters for lack of a good home. If you want to save lives, always have your animals spayed or neutered.
Posted by Ingrid E. Newkirk

Friday, March 27, 2009

Correction: I thought the HBO Documentary Death at a Factory Farm was a series of investigative reports, but it was in fact a singular investigative report. Regardless, if you haven't seen it, find it and watch it. You owe the animals that you eat at least that. 
HBO Series 
I have been "DVR'ing" the HBO series Death of a Factory Farm. I hadn't been able to watch it for one reason or another - being out of town, working, extracurricular events that needed my attendance. But I had today off and once the cleaning service left, I caught up on some of the shows I had recorded. I skipped over the HBO series several times. 
It's not like I haven't seen what goes on. 
I have. 
I have witnessed such unbelievable cruelty from my fellow man - towards companion animals, those used in entertainment and for experimentation. 
I have seen turkeys and chickens being sodomized and raped. 
I have seen dogs being skinned alive. 
I have seen whales being harpooned and sharks being caught and thrown back to drown after their dorsal fin is cut from their body. 
I have seen the Japanese trap dolphins in a cove and then execute the most horrendous cruelty that it gives me nightmares. 
To say that I am deeply, deeply sensitive to these images is no understatement. 
I literally cry out when the act is witnessed - with no regard for those around me. 
It is primal. 
When an elephant screams from being bull-hooked, I cannot, actually, I will not contain my horror. 
It is so easy to drift though this life. Casually stepping over, ignoring, averting our eyes from the things we find distasteful. It is so easy to order food we find so lovely, so satiating, so cathartic to our daily experiences, with no regard for the process. 
The process.
That's the hard part.
You know how people tend to minimize? If you work in an office or with different departments you see a lot of it. Those engaged in a particular function are well aware of the intricacies but those outside, well, it's too much, isn't it? Too much to think about all that others must do in order to accomplish a job, a project. I have people in my office, actually in my department but outside my division that cannot grasp the complexities of work performed by others. And it is too much to play detective so the opposite is performed. "Easy" "simple" "quick" "just" are continually used in reference to others. Yet it is minimizing. 
Anyway. It is easy to pick up a meal, order a course without thinking about the process.
Yet our consciousness is forever assaulted by investigative reports or news stories that reveal the inevitable outcome of the factory farm environment. 
The disease. 
The substandard products. 
The pollution. 
The resource grab. 
And the extreme cruelty.
Within 13 minutes of starting the first installment I had cried out. I had paused the program and sobbed uncontrollably. 
It is a personal affront to me. 
To see the fourth most intelligent being, the pig, being brutalized, it's offspring hurled through the air and into a wheeled container, one little piglet tossed upon another until the container is filled, with some bouncing off and landing hard on the concrete floor, while their mothers watch. I cannot fathom this. I should be able to, but I can't. I cannot understand how anyone can do this to a living being. I understand that people need to eat. Of course we need to eat. 
But this? 
The mothers, after their babies have been taken from them, usually give up living - refusing to eat or drink. 
We are well past the false belief that animals are equal to machines. 
They are thinking, feeling, cognizant beings that are dependent upon us. 
Dependent on our benevolence. 
And we do this.
The screaming of these little piglets. It's so awful.
The ones deemed too small are smashed against the concrete floor, sometimes over and over and over again until they are dead. Or maybe just half dead...thrown into buckets to convulse their way into God's hands.
Buckets and buckets of dead baby pigs.
Stacks upon stacks of dead pigs dumped into a pit until it was filled with dead pigs and then covered. 
The mothers are kept in such filth that it is inevitable that disease would be rampant. Footage of these filthy conditions, of junk bins where the "downer" pigs are placed - downer meaning ill, injured, etc., the complete and total disregard for these animals. Kicking these animals that are unable to walk - kicking over and over and over as this animal desperately tries to move. 
My God. 
I cannot fathom what could have happened in a person life that would make this acceptable. Watching as they dragged all these animals out and one by one hang them by a chain from a front loader....taking 4 to 5 minutes for it to die. It is soul destroying. 

Too sensitive? Too upsetting? Sorry. Too fucking bad. This is what YOU are perpetuating when you buy the end products. You can continue to avert your eyes saying it's too much, too troubling, call it an isolated incident. It is not isolated. The people that are involved in the raising of pigs, that must perform the day in day out maintenance of intensively confined animals, hate them. 

This must stop. 

And the only way it stops is to stop purchasing the products. Buy from local, humane farms. Sure it cost more...primarily because the farms take extra efforts to be humane. The cheaper the end product, believe me, the more inhumane, the more cruelty inherent in the flesh. 
It bothers me to no end that those that consume the end products consider themselves too sensitive or the images too graphic to witness what those that have given their lives to feed them have to endure. 
To say that it's not important. 
To say that it's somehow not associated with anything you consume, is a lie. 
You are lying to yourself. 
You are disregarding the truth. 
You are pretending. 
You are averting your eyes from something that is egregious, yet consider yourself a kind, gentle, loving, empathetic, generous soul. If puppies were being slammed repeatedly against a concrete floor would you still say nothing? 
How about kitten tossed on top of one another into a large container? 
How about a beloved pet that has broken legs...being kicked repeatedly to make it move? 
Still not a big deal?
Still isolated? 
Still part of life?
Think about what you are eating EVERY time you eat. Think about where that animal came from, how it came to be on your plate and what it had to go through to get there. 
I ask that you visit the Humane Farming Association (hfa.org) where the information is collected. I ask that you witness what these animals have endured to be on your plate. 
You don't have to join PETA, you don't have become some radical animal rights advocate throwing red paint on people in furs. 
You just have be a witness. 
I think about those that lived in towns abutting concentration camps that averted their eyes. I am in no way equating people with animals...I am simply pointing out what we as caring compassionate people must constantly be alert to. We as humane individuals must be vigilant, must be strong and willing to confront the evils that has been allowed to fester and grow in cloak of secrecy. 
We are better than this. I know we are. 
Do something.