Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let's End Farm Animal Cruelty

Despite knowing that the scenes in it would be very hard to watch, I decided anyway to watch the recently released HBO documentary, Death on a Family Farm because I knew it was a story that had to be told.

Three years in the making, DEATH ON A FACTORY FARM follows the undercover investigation of Wiles Hog Farm by the animal rights group The Humane Farming Association (HFA), and the resulting court case against it.

Over the course of six weeks, “Pete” secretly filmed numerous disturbing scenes, including piglets being tossed into crates from across a room, impregnated sows held in pens that don't allow them to move, an unhealthy piglet being slammed against a wall to euthanize it, and a sick sow being hung by a chain from a forklift until it choked to death.

For a video preview of this documentary which contains images that may be disturbing to many, open this link.

I previously wrote on this subject in
Can We Talk About Animal Welfare? Unlike those who support Animal Rights which essentially promotes a vegan lifestyle forgoing the use of any animal products, I am a supporter of Animal Welfare which finds the use of animals for food and clothing to be morally acceptable as long as unnecessary suffering is avoided.

And on a related note, there was the
indictment and the later conviction of NFL quarterback Michael Vick for dogfighting that was prominently in the news. But while dogfighting is bad enough, what really started the outrage towards Vick was this:

The indictment said that in April 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick "executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions by various methods, including hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog's body to the ground." Vick also is alleged to have consulted with Peace before Peace killed a losing dog by electrocution in 2003.
While many were rightly outraged at Vick’s cruel treatment of some of his dogs, most of the laws against cruel treatment that protect companion animals like dogs do not apply to farm animals that we raise for food. So while slamming a dog’s body to the ground or hanging a dog like Vick did is both disgusting and illegal, apparently slamming an unhealthy piglet against a wall or hanging a sow to “euthanize” it while equally disgusting is not illegal. Apparently the thinking is that if we are using the animal for food, anything goes.

But can we truly call ourselves a moral society if we condone cruelty to any living creature? If you watch this graphic video presented by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of practices at a pig farm in North Carolina, you will agree that the senseless cruel and sadistic treatment of these animals goes far beyond the necessary slaughtering of these creatures to utilize them for food. And as most people who have raised pigs will tell you, they are especially intelligent animals with real feelings. Unfortunately, PETA’s only proposed solution to all of this is to try and convert as many as people as possible to becoming vegans including telling viewers at the end of the video “Don’t eat pigs”.

But instead of PETA’s ideological pursuit to try and convert the world’s meat-eaters to becoming vegans, wouldn’t it be more beneficial for the animals in question to push for laws that outlaw the cruel practices shown in the documentary?

The passage this November of California Proposition 2 along with similar laws enacted elsewhere providing for more humane treatment of agricultural animals is a positive move in the right direction. Perhaps Congress also needs to get involved. But more people need to made aware of the cruel practices used by many of these factory farms.

For HBO subscribers, the documentary will be available ‘On Demand’ until mid-April and I hope you will take the time to view this 90 minute presentation. It is not pleasant viewing but it’s a story that needs to be told and shared with others. We do not condone cruelty to animals who serve us as companions. Isn’t it only right that we afford the same consideration for those creatures who give up their lives so that we may eat?

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