We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us
how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.
--Anna Sewell, author (Black Beauty, etc.!) 1820-1878
I know I’m no great hero for animals in being merely a vegetarian. Even so, there’s one expression I often hear from non-vegetarians that infuriates me. It goes like this: “I don’t eat beef or pork or fish, just chicken” -- as if “just chicken” is somehow not the flesh of a once-sentient being, like other meat; as if the chicken supply is free and inexhaustible; as if chickens don’t feel the dread and agony of slaughter, which so many other animals have been documented as feeling.
Oh, come on. Most chickens by far are not the pampered backyard pets who live in pricey designer coops, eat carefully selected foods and are protected from predators and extreme weather. For the billions of “commercial chickens” – that is, those bred to become food in the United States -- life is frightfully different.
|a 'broiler' factory|
You read it right: “billions.” Of the land animals slaughtered for food each year here, 8.6 billion animals are chickens – nearly 300 per second. These figures come from Mercy for Animals, the book cited in my last post. And author Nathan Runkle points out that “each and every one of these animals is an individual who suffers pain, who has a family, who has a story.”
Years ago, before learning what I know now, I participated in a demonstration at a nearby McDonald’s, sponsored by PETA, I think. Its purpose: demand more humane slaughter of chickens. As if “humane slaughter” were not a contradiction in terms. As if as a result, chickens would feel better about the whole thing.
There. At least temporarily, this rant took our minds off all the hams served for dinner today – that is, all the pigs, smart, friendly and lovable animals that they are – raised and slaughtered for a celebration of rebirth. Ironic, isn’t it? But human meat-eaters probably aren’t interested in irony when it comes to their eating habits.
A few real-life experiences last month illustrated for me the value of a vet who makes home visits – as described in a recent post here. Bundling two reluctant cats into their carriers for vet visits took a toll, and I found myself daydreaming of a vet who would come to us (no guile or carrier needed!). Here’s a story about a certified veterinary acupuncturist who makes house calls in NYC – bless him!
We missed the ASPCA’s poison prevention week last month, but it’s never too late to know what to avoid, what to do. I’m reminded of a dear gray cat who hung around a local nursery, allowing petting and accepting treats. Until he died of poisoning, the owners said, when asked. As if that had to be the end of him.
The kindest possible thought: that they didn’t know where to look or what to do. Here’s what may be the definitive info source on animal poisoning that even other animal welfare organizations point to for the quality of its helpfulness.
Equal film time for dogs?
Kedi, the charming documentary about cats leading the good life in Istanbul, would make American cats jealous. I’m not sure Isle of Dogs will do the same for canines, but I still intend to see it. This review is only the first positive mention I’ve noted.
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