The dairy industry used to get a free pass, even from many animal rights campaigners. But with the mainstream emergence of veganism, more people are becoming aware of practices that are normal in milk production. Now, they are even talking about it at the Oscars.
In his acceptance speech for the best actor award, Joaquin Phoenix spoke of our “egocentric world view” and how we “plunder” the natural world for its resources. Turning to dairy, he said: “We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakeable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.”
The reality of dairy farming can be shocking for people who have always assumed milking a cow is harmless. From the age of 15 months, female cows are artificially inseminated with semen drawn mechanically from a bull. Once born, the calf will usually be taken away within 36 hours. This is so farmers can take the milk the mothers are making. Experts say that a strong bond is formed quickly after birth and the separation is traumatising for both cow and calf.
If the calf is male, he will be considered a byproduct and either killed immediately or sold on to be raised as veal, which postpones his death for a few months. If it’s female, she will follow her mother in the cycle of forced pregnancies until she is too old to carry on, after which she will be killed.
The rise of veganism is hitting dairy bosses hard. Sales of plant-based milks are soaring. Last year it was revealed that almost a quarter of Britons are consuming non-dairy milk alternatives. Meanwhile, the average person’s milk consumption in the UK has fallen by 50% since the 50s.
Phoenix linked the oppression of animals with the oppression of humans. The “cries of anguish” from mother cows are finally being heard.
Two environmental groups made a formal announcement that they will file a lawsuit to protect endangered beluga whales whose numbers have plummeted recently, as the AP reported.
The suit aims to void permits allowed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that opened up oil and gas exploration in Cook Inlet in southern Alaska. The suit alleges that NOAA violated the Endangered Species Act by issuing the permits without protecting Cook Island belugas. The law requires the formal 60-day notice before the agency can be sued, according to The Associated Press.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Cook Inletkeeper teamed up to send notice that they will sue NOAA.
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a disturbing new population estimate last week that showed whale numbers are far lower than previous estimates and their numbers are dropping rapidly, as Reuters reported.
The NMFS report estimated that only 279 beluga whales remain in Cook Inlet, a steep decline from the nearly 1,300 that lived there in 1979. The population decline has accelerated to an annual rate of 2.3 percent over the last decade, which is four times faster than previous estimates, according to NMFS, as Reuters reported.
Cook Inlet runs almost 200 miles from Anchorage to the Gulf of Alaska. It supplies energy for the south-central part of the state. The industrial activities there threaten beluga whales, which swim there and feast on salmon and other fish, according to The Independent.
The Center for Biological Diversity said these “daunting” numbers mean exploration planned by Hillcorp Alaska needs to stop immediately, as The Independent reported.
The plaintiffs are demanding a new assessment of oil and gas exploration since the Trump administration used higher, inaccurate beluga whale numbers when it gave a permit to Hillcorp Alaska. The permit allows the petroleum company to “take” beluga whales as part of its operations. “Take” is a nebulous term that allows the company to harass and harm whales. The environmental groups want a guarantee that Cook Inlet belugas can recover from any of Hillcorp Alaska’s operations, according to The Associated Press.
“Since we pressed for listing the Cook Inlet Beluga whale as endangered in 2008, the drive for corporate profits and complacent government bureaucrats have conspired to stifle progress for this dwindling stock,” said Bob Shavelson, advocacy director for Cook Inletkeeper, in a statement. “Hilcorp should do the right thing and abandon its plans for new drilling in Cook Inlet.”
Last summer, the Trump administration loosened environmental regulations that allowed for new mining, oil and gas drilling where protected species live, according to The Independent.
“The tragic decline of these lovely little whales spotlights the risk of allowing oil exploration in their habitat,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “If we’re going to save these belugas, the Trump administration must cancel permission for the oil industry to use seismic blasting and pile driving in Cook Inlet. These animals are hanging on by a thread, and we can’t let them be hurt even more.”
The groups said that seismic blasting used in exploration and deep-sea mining causes blasts heard miles away. The blasts can register up to 250 decibels. For reference, standing next to a jackhammer is 100 decibels. Those underwater blasts can cause hearing loss in marine mammals, severely disrupt communication between pods, disturb feeding and breeding grounds, and reduce their ability to catch fish, according to the environmental groups, as The Associated Press reported.
Each evening, under cover of darkness, hundreds of live pigs from farms across China are trucked through the rusting gates of a cluster of mildew-stained quarantine and inspection buildings in the Qingshuihe logistics zone in Shenzhen.
Overnight they are checked for illness, primarily the African swine fever (ASF) that is expected to kill off a quarter of the world’s pigs, and reloaded on to ventilated trucks with dual mainland China and Hong Kong licence plates.
Before sunrise the caravan makes its way five-and-a-half miles south to the border at Man Kam To, a small customs and immigration checkpoint, where the pigs go through further visual health checks before crossing into Hong Kong.
They are bound for Sheung Shui slaughterhouse, the largest of three abattoirs in the territory. Once there they will be checked again before being dispatched in less than 24 hours under new rules meant to prevent the spread of ASF.
It’s a lot of effort to get fresh meat from the 1,400 pigs that cross the border each day.
The appetite for freshly slaughtered ‘warm meat’
For various reasons, the Chinese prefer freshly slaughtered pig, chicken and beef over chilled or frozen meat that has been slaughtered before being shipped.
That desire is at the heart of why diseases such as avian flu in poultry and ASF have been so difficult to eradicate, with huge movements of live animals from all over the country – from farm to slaughterhouse to market – on a daily basis making controlling the spread of disease incredibly difficult.
A recent coronavirus outbreak in China has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan, eastern China. Like other respiratory illnesses, the disease was initially transmitted from animal to human, but is now being passed human to human.
But despite awareness of the issues, the markets are a huge part of Chinese life. On a busy morning at a so-called “wet market” in the Shajing area, the oldest inhabited and very Cantonese part of Shenzhen, hundreds of shoppers arrive soon after daybreak. Slabs of pork hang from the stalls and various cuts are piled on the counters amid lights with a reddish glare and the occasional buzzing of flies.
Just a few minutes away at the nearby Walmart, where there are also options for fresh, chilled and frozen meat, the customer flow at this time of day is only a trickle compared to the wet market. It has your average western supermarket vibe – white daylight lighting, sterile and clean.
Staff at the meat counter in Walmart and at the stalls in the wet market both say the meat comes in from the same slaughterhouse around 2am. So why the huge difference in foot traffic?
Molly Maj, a corporate communications representative for Walmart, says “the average customer in China still prefers fresh meat” over other options.
One reason for the demand for wet markets is that widespread refrigeration only came to China in recent years. While most urban homes now have refrigerators, many in rural areas and low income urban renters still do not own one, or only a mini-fridge if they do.
The habit of buying perishable food for daily use is still prevalent in many consumers, particularly older shoppers who grew up without refrigerators. They say they can tell the quality of fresh meat by its smell, colour and how it feels to the touch.
“When I’m talking with my students I say: ‘The term warm meat, fresh meat, sounds disgusting to me, I grew up [in Germany] with chilled meat, that’s all I know,” Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor of veterinary medicine at City University in Hong Kong and an expert on diseases related to animal husbandry, says.
“So I ask them why and they come up with all sorts of vague things like the soup tastes better or that it is a trust issue, knowing it is a live animal at the other end and not some diseased animal,” he says. “It’s all very subjective.”
An ‘utter disaster’ for disease
Wet markets are central to the perception that fresh meat is better, says Pfeiffer. They evoke nostalgia among shoppers, many of whom come from rural areas where all they knew were wet markets and no refrigeration.
Where a wet market feels familiar a supermarket can seem alien and out of place.
“I actually believe that it is an important thing for the older generation to go to the wet market and chat,” says Pfeiffer. However, the way the animal trade operates in China is “an utter disaster”, for animal disease and welfare, he adds.
A year ago, before rising concerns about the spread of ASF, nearly 4,000 pigs crossed daily with less scrutiny. Pigs were held in dismal conditions for as long as five days before being slaughtered on the Hong Kong side, greatly enhancing the possibility of disease transmission, says Pfeiffer.
The recent shortages due to the ASF outbreak have doubled and tripled prices for fresh pork at wet markets across Hong Kong. Farms in Hong Kong itself can usually supply about 300 pigs a day. Land use and environmental restrictions prevent any increase in production. The result is further worries about Hong Kong’s reliance on mainland China beyond its water and energy dependence.
“Many years ago, we had imports from all over Asia of live animals, but eventually the entire supply was monopolised by mainland China,” said Helena Wong, a member of Hong Kong’s legislative council panel on food safety and environmental hygiene. “They killed all their competitors and monopolised the supply of live pig and chicken.”
More than 6,000 pigs at the Sheung Shui slaughterhouse were culled in May 2019 after ASF was found among animals brought in from China. Hong Kong’s legislative council is now trying to figure out how much it owes traders and farmers in compensation.
Massive culls of poultry due to avian flu in imported mainland chickens in the last decade also led to large compensation bills and, eventually, to ending live chicken imports in early 2016.
“We as taxpayers have to give that money,” said Wong. “So now we are in a big crisis because in the past few years we have experienced avian flu and now African swine fever.”
A future beyond ‘warm meat’ for Hong Kong
Disease outbreaks have raised wider questions about the sustainability of Chinese consumers’ appetite – both on the mainland and in Hong Kong – for what is often called “warm” meat.
For Deborah Cao, a professor at Griffith University in Australia and an expert on animal protection in China, a deeper issue driving the live animal trade is a cultural disconnect about animal welfare.
“The main problem is the indifference or perception of people who simply regard animals as food, tools, or as things that people can do anything they want to,” she said.
“In particular, there is no perception of farm animals as having feelings, or being capable of feeling pain or suffering.”
Hong Kong may find it difficult to switch to a different model. There is almost no chance of farm expansion to support larger scale production within Hong Kong and, although the government is looking at possibilities of live imports from other Asian countries, the ports do not have adequate facilities to cope with large numbers.
“To a large extent, if we insist on fresh food, we have to rely on China,” said Wong. “If we can change and make certain concessions, Hong Kong has always been an open market for importing food items from many parts of the world. It is only for the provision of live animals that we are monopolised by the mainland farms.”
WASHINGTON – The virus that has caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of illnesses worldwide emerged from a market in Wuhan, China, that sold live food animals, including some animals caught in the wild, according to Chinese authorities.
A price list circulated on Chinese social media showed snakes, hedgehogs, peacocks, civet cats, scorpions, centipedes and more for sale at the market.
It’s not the first time these markets have bred a new disease, and experts said it probably won’t be the last. Severe acute respiratory syndrome, better known as SARS, originated at a similar market in China in 2002. It ultimately claimed nearly 800 lives.
Bird flu spread in these markets in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The H5N1 strain of influenza has killed 455 people since 2003.
Without proper sanitation and animal handling, health officials said, these markets can be spawning grounds for diseases.
Live animal markets are found across the developing world, especially in Asia and Africa.
Most animals sold there are healthy. But in the crowded conditions at these markets, one sick animal can infect many more, experts said.
Wild animals introduce a dangerous wild card.
For example, civet cats carried the virus that caused SARS. But scientists think the virus originated in bats.
“In the normal world, these species would never meet,” said veterinarian Tony Goldberg, associate director for research at the University of Wisconsin Global Health Institute.
“But in these live animal markets, they brought those two species together,” he said. “And when you do that in these tight, crowded, stressful conditions, you create every opportunity for these viruses to jump host species.”
The virus could spread when a vendor butchers an animal. Or a sick animal could spread it through its saliva, urine, feces or other secretions.
Humans and domesticated animals have been exposed to each other’s diseases for millennia. We’ve developed some defenses. That’s not the case with a new virus coming from a wild animal, Goldberg said.
The virus lottery
Given how common these markets are around the world, it’s almost surprising that new outbreaks don’t happen more often, veterinarian William Karesh, executive vice president for health and policy at EcoHealth Alliance, said.
“I’ve gone to a market in Southeast Asia and they’re selling maybe 5,000 or 6,000 bats every week,” he said. “And that’s just one market. As you drive around, there’s 20 or 30 of those markets within a few hours’ drive. So now we’re talking about tens of thousands of bats for sale, and tens of thousands of rats (and other species). And that’s going on throughout much of the world.
“So we’re talking, really, about millions of animals for sale on a daily basis and tens of millions of people shopping there,” Karesh said.
For a virus looking for a different species to infect, he said, it’s like playing the lottery.
“Your chances of winning are pretty high when you’ve got exposure to 10 or 15 or 20 million people every day,” Karesh said.
People often don’t shop at these markets by choice, he said. When refrigeration is not available, the best way to get fresh meat is to buy it when it’s still alive. And customers can see if the animal is healthy before they buy it.
Also, many wild-caught foods are “deeply cherished in many cultures around the world,” not just in Africa and Asia, Goldberg said, even if they may carry diseases.
In the United States, rabbits carry tularemia, a bacterial disease that can be fatal. It’s on the list of potential bioterror weapons.
“You’ll see human cases pop up every now and then when rabbit hunters cut themselves when butchering a rabbit,” Goldberg said, adding he knows a rabbit hunter who got tularemia twice.
The Chinese government closed live animal markets after SARS. But the markets have slowly reopened in the years since.
The government could close them again. But what may ultimately solve the problem is not a government mandate but a cultural shift.
Around the world, Karesh said, more young people are shopping at supermarkets.
“The grocery store is selling chilled refrigerated chicken, and it’s cheaper,” he said. “And people are busy. They’re going to work. They don’t really have time to go to that live animal market anymore.”
Plus, he added, attitudes are changing. Older people may see wild animals as a delicacy. The younger generation? Not so much.
“I don’t think they’re so interested in going to the live animal markets anymore to watch a bat be slaughtered or have a chicken have its throat cut,” he said.
“Twenty years ago, there weren’t many people in China who had pet dogs,” he said. Now, “there’s a new generation of people that when they see a dog, they’re not thinking about food. They’re thinking about, ‘Oh, wow, what a wonderful opportunity to have a pet.’”
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LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A Lakewood woman said the laws need to be changed after her condominium has been trapping and killing squirrels.
“I don’t think this is a humane way to deal with this at all,” Klaudia Sekulska said.
The traps are placed on the roof outside her window.
She said someone in the building complained the squirrels were getting into the attic, and a local pest control company was called.
“There are different ways to go about it. You don’t have to let an animal freeze to death overnight and then put it in a black garbage bag. That’s not dignified for anyone,” she said.
Colorado law allows pest control companies to operate under the same rules as homeowners. It’s legal to trap and, in some cases, poison squirrels that are damaging property.
Sekulska said the laws should change.
“It’s a permit to kill, and that’s what’s happening here. We’re proud of our animals and our wildlife, and it was National Squirrel Day yesterday,” Sekulska said.
Sekulska brought her concerns to animal control, property managers and her HOA.
She said they haven’t done enough to patch the holes in the roof or bring in proper trash bins before resorting to killing the animals.
Denver7 reached out to the HOA for comment but did not hear back.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommends removing pet food and trash that may be attracting squirrels, create barriers, and use ammonia as a deterrent.
If you believe any animal is being abused or is being treated inhumanely, you can file a complaint with Colorado Parks and Wildlife or your local animal control.
Germany and France are teaming up to push for the end of male chick shredding in the European Union by the end of 2021.
Agriculture ministers Julia Klöckner of Germany and Didier Guillaume of France announced their plans to help press this issue further during a Monday meeting in Germany.
“It’s time to end the shredding of chicks. France and Germany should be the European motor to advance on this issue,” Guillaume said, according to France24.
Shredding refers to the act of killing male chicks shortly after they hatch. This practice occurs in many poultry businesses because male chicks don’t produce eggs and generate less meat than their female counterparts.
The two European countries hope to bring together industry groups, companies, researchers and campaign groups to “share scientific knowledge” and “implement alternative methods,” France24 reports.
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“We welcome this scheme and the fact that non-governmental organizations are involved, but we expect clear regulatory commitments,” Agathe Gignoux of CIWF, a French NGO, said.
In 2009, the Associated Press reported U.S. egg producers euthanize 200 million male chicks per year. According to AP, Chicago-based animal rights organization Mercy for Animals videotaped male chicks being ground up alive while undercover in Iowa hatchery Hy-Line North America that same year.
The same practice appears to occur in Canada, too, though the Canadian government has announced recent changes in an effort to minimize this waste.
Jean-Michel Laurin, president and CEO of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, told Global News that the industry has been working towards eliminating the euthanizing of male chicks.
“This requires a great deal of research, which has been occurring worldwide and includes Canadian-based research which has been active for about 10 years,” he said. “Currently, stakeholders in Canadian industry have made significant investments to bring us beyond the research trial phase.”
“Our industry is committed to continually improving practices. Farmers, hatcheries and others in the supply chain have demonstrated, over generations, their desire to improve and to respond to change.”
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He added that the National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Chickens, Turkeys and Breeders lists several methods to euthanize day-old chicks and emphasizes that in all circumstances, the termination of life must be instantaneous.
Toronto Chick-fil-A launch draws customers and demonstrators
Toronto Chick-fil-A launch draws customers and demonstrators
In 2018, then-Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced an $844,000 investment would go towards developing an electronic scan to determine a bird’s sex and fertility of eggs prior to hatching, Poultry World reported.
This would mean male eggs could be sold before hatching, which would increase capacity and efficiency of Canadian hatcheries and ultimately end male chick culling.
“The Canadian egg industry is driving our economy and creating good jobs,” he said in a statement. “The government of Canada is produce [sic] to support the Egg Farmers of Ontario for this first-of-its-kind study that will make Canada a world leader in animal welfare.
“This investment will help pilot a solution that will be welcomed in Canada and around the world and will keep the egg industry strong and growing.”
… get Del Taco to improve the lives of the chickens suffering in its supply chain. Together we WILL create change #ForTheAnimals!
Let’s keep the momentum going by reaching out to Del Taco’s leadership team with the following 2 actions.
Send an email. Click here to email The Humane League’s recent LinkedIn article to Muna Afghani, Del Taco’s Sr. Manager of Quality Assurance.
*When possible, please draft your own unique email subject and body. The more authentic your message, the more effective and meaningful it will be to Del Taco.
Subject: 2020 Business plans
Dear Ms. Afghani,
While I applaud Del Taco’s steps towards offering plant-based options at its restaurants, I am very disappointed that you have failed to address the fundamental problems in Del Taco’s chicken supply chain. Thus far, Del Taco has turned its back on the animal cruelty allowed in its supply chain. As a member of the leadership team, I hope you will step up your game in 2020 and adopt the Better Chicken Commitment. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/del-taco-rise-occasion-2020-taylor-ford/
Call a Del Taco employee, inquiring when the company will address the cruel and outdated practices allowed in its chicken supply chain.
Call: (949) 462-7322, to be connected with a Del Taco employee. The program will tell you the name and title of the person before connecting you. *Please leave a voicemail if the staff member is not available.
Sample Script: “Hi, my name is [NAME] and I am calling to express my concerns about the way chickens in Del Taco’s supply chain are treated. I recently saw this website – DelTorture.com – and was upset to learn that you support such outdated and cruel practices. Several of your competitors have already committed to the Better Chicken Commitment. When can we expect Del Taco to follow suit?”
Thank you all so much for supporting this important campaign.
A California animal rescue organization named this injured sea lion Mandalorian.
(CNN)A California sea lion rescued in mid-December after it was found suffering from pellet gun wounds had to be euthanized because of its injuries.
Animal control found the 1½-year-old female sea lion in distress at a surfing spot called The Wedge in Newport Beach, California, on December 16. Her rescuers at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center inLaguna Beach named her Mandalorian.
Krysta Higuchi, a spokeswoman for the center, told CNN there are several Star Wars fans on staff and they have named other rescued animals after “Star Wars” characters like Yoda, Leia and Skywalker.
One of the rescuers had just finished watching the popular Disney series “The Mandalorian” and wanted to give the injured sea lion a good, strong name.
Rescuers found two distinct wounds on the sea lion, including a draining abscess on her dorsal back that was causing significant pain and discomfort and limiting her mobility, according to a press release.
An X-ray revealed two wounds on her chest that most likely came from a pellet rifle. One of the pellets struck between her ribs and vertebrae, and the entry point was severely infected. The other pellet was lodged between two ribs.
An X-ray reveals fragments of two pellets in the sea lion.
“We tried draining the abscess but once (staff) noticed the gunshot wounds, it was a waiting game to see if she would make a turn for the better,” Higuchi said. “Unfortunately, she made a turn for the worse.”
Mandalorian was carefully monitored throughout the next week but her health continued to decline. On December 22, she was humanely euthanized.
During the necropsy, staff discovered her body was filled with puss and dead tissue.
“We know we made the right decision and the animal is no longer suffering,” Higuchi said.
She told CNN they have no idea why this sea lion was shot but said it could have been some young kids playing with a pellet gun, an angry fisherman, or even someone annoyed that the sea lion was on his or her boat.
“There’s a way we can cohabitate with these animals,” she said. “If an animal is in a location where it shouldn’t be, we’ll help get it relocated and assist with animal control.”
The gunshot pellets were recovered and sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement for investigation. The office investigates suspected violations of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which bans injuring or killing marine mammals in the wild, including sea lions.
By Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns
If we cannot imagine how chickens must feel being grabbed in the middle of the night by men who are cursing and yelling at them while pitching them into the crates in which they will travel to the next wave of human terror attacks at the slaughterhouse, then we should try to imagine ourselves placed helplessly in the hands of an overpowering extraterrestrial species, to whom our pleas for mercy sound like nothing more than mere noise to the master race in whose “superior” minds we are “only animals.”
– Karen Davis, The Holocaust and the Henmaid’s Tale
“The garbage dump is crammed with our heads and entrails.”
– Rooster narrator of “Cockadoodledoo” by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Month-old chickens in a commercial operation courtesy of the PEW Charitable Trust
Some people will say that treating creatures badly in order to eat them is a far cry from treating creatures badly simply because you hate them, but Charles Patterson notes in his book, Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, that the psychology of contempt for “inferior life” links the Nazi mentality to that which allows us to torture and kill billions of nonhuman animals and millions of human beings with no more concern for them and their suffering than Hannibal Lecter and Jame Gumb feel for their victims, apart from the pleasure they derive from the taste of their victims’ pain, in Thomas Harris’s book, The Silence of the Lambs. That book says that the plight of the lambs screaming in the slaughterhouses – the whole human enterprise of degradation, cruelty, and murder – “will not end, ever” (Harris, 366).
Eternal Treblinka reminds us of all those other slaughterhouses that were running alongside the human ones under the Nazis – “Around-the-clock killing and butchering” conducted at Treblinka, Auschwitz, in Dresden, and elsewhere (Patterson, 129). In their diaries and letters, Nazi officials note indifferently such things as “huge slaughter of chickens and pigs” (Patterson, 125), and they dote on their meals. One writes to his wife: “The sight of the dead – including women and children – is not very cheering. Once the cold weather sets in you’ll be getting a goose now and again. There are over 200 chattering around here, as well as cows, calves, pigs, hens and turkeys. We live like princes. Today, Sunday, we had roast goose (1/4 each). This evening we are having pigeon” (Patterson, 129).
In Eternal Treblinka, chickens and pigs shriek as they are being cursed and butchered. Nazis bear their souls in letters and diaries. We read the opposing testimony of Holocaust survivors and their descendants. A question raised over and over by those who became vegetarians rather than perpetuate the legacy of butchery in their own lives, is “How can ‘we’ do to ‘them’ what was done to ‘us’ and not even recognize it?” Because, says Albert Kaplan, “we have learned nothing from the Holocaust” (Patterson, 167). Kaplan tells of a visit he made in Israel to a kibbutz Holocaust museum near Haifa: “Around two hundred feet from the main entrance to the museum is an Auschwitz for animals from which emanates a horrible odor that envelops the museum. I mentioned it to the museum management. Their reaction was not surprising. ‘But they are only chickens’” (Patterson, 166).
Degradation of the Victim
Christa Blanke, a former Lutheran pastor in Germany and founder of the organization Animals’ Angels, cites a link between how we treat animals and Nazism. First we strip the animals of their dignity – “The degradation of the victim always precedes a murder” (Patterson, 228). But, we want to know, why do humans want to degrade and kill? Serial killer Ted Bundy said it wasn’t that he had no feelings of remorse for his victims, but that those feelings were weak and ephemeral compared to his rapacious emotions (Rule). Naturalist John Muir wrote that the people he knew enjoyed seeing the passenger pigeons fill the sky, but they liked shooting and eating them more – “Every shotgun was aimed at them” (Teale, 46).
Comfort with Cruelty
The Holocaust thus raises questions, and we long for answers. Why, asked Isaac Bashevis Singer, do we pretend animals don’t feel in order to justify our cruelty, but even more importantly, why do we want to be cruel to animals? Is comfort with cruelty, taking pleasure in cruelty, a trait we carry from our past in our genes? Why, when we have the technology to duplicate animal products, do people insist they have to have meat? Why do we praise technology for developing substitutes for cruder practices in other areas of life while balking at its use to end slaughterhouses, which technology can do?
The Holocaust epitomized an attitude, the manifestation of a base will. It is the attitude that we can do whatever we please, however vicious, if we can get away with it, because “we” are superior, and “they,” whoever they are, are, so to speak, “just chickens.” Paradoxically, therefore, it is possible, indeed requisite, to make relevant and enlightening comparisons between the Holocaust and our base treatment of nonhuman animals. We can make comparisons while agreeing with philosopher, Brian Luke: “My opposition to the institutionalized exploitation of animals is not based on a comparison between human and animal treatment, but on a consideration of the abuse of animals in and of itself” (Luke, 81).
Paradoxically, while the words “Nazi” and “Holocaust” represent unique historical phenomena, they can transcend these phenomena to function more broadly. And a broader approach to the Holocaust would appear to hold more promise for a more enlightened and compassionate future than attempting to privatize the event to the extent that its only permissible reference is self-reference. A broader approach provides a more just apprehension of past and present atrocities, while connecting the Nazis and the Holocaust to the larger ethical challenges confronting humanity.
Identity or Exclusivity?
In A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present, Native American scholar Ward Churchill writes that the experience of the Jews under the Nazis is unique “only in the sense that all such phenomena exhibit unique characteristics. Genocide, as the Nazis practiced it, was never something suffered exclusively by the Jews, nor were the Nazis singularly guilty of its practice” (Churchill 1997, 35-36).
One of the many questions that emerge from the current debate about the use of the Holocaust to illuminate humankind’s relationship to billions of nonhuman animals is the extent to which the outrage of having one’s own suffering compared to that of others centers primarily on issues of identity and uniqueness or on issues of superiority and privilege. The ownership of superior and unique suffering has many claimants, but as Isaac Bashevis Singer observed speaking of chickens, there is no evidence that humans are more important than chickens (Shenker, 11).
The Fascist Within
There is no evidence, either, that human suffering, or Jewish suffering, is separate from all other suffering, or that it needs to be kept separate and superior in order to maintain its identity. But where, it may be asked, is the evidence that we humans have had enough of inflicting massive preventable suffering on one another and on the individuals of other species, given that we know suffering so well, and claim to abhor it? In Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, Charles Patterson concludes: “the sooner we put an end to our cruel and violent way of life, the better it will be for all of us – perpetrators, bystanders, and victims” (232). Who but the Nazi within us disagrees? If we are going to exterminate someone, let it be the fascist within.
He was released on personal recognizance and ordered to surrender any animals and not to possess any animals.
“In this case, the defendant allegedly struck his dog, Derby, multiple times in his backyard,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said. “After being certain the dog was deceased the defendant allegedly buried it behind his home.”
According to a police report reviewed by the Boston Herald, Crook claimed his dog was 17 years old and he had discussed euthanizing the animal with a friend who is a veterinarian.
Crook told police he decided to kill the dog Friday while his son was away, the Herald reports. Crook put Tylenol PM in the dog’s food.
The newspaper cited a police report that said Crook wanted to make sure the dog was dead, so he grabbed a rock and struck the dog in the head several times.
Crook showed police where the dog was buried, the Herald reports.
Melrose police were called to Mount Zion Road Saturday for a report of an incident involving animal cruelty.
Police said Crook dragged his dog from his home into the backyard Friday night and struck the dog in the head with a large rock several times.
“The defendant then allegedly retrieved a shovel from his home and subsequently buried the dog,” the district attorney’s office said.
On Sunday, police executed a search warrant at Crook’s home and located the dead dog and other evidence. The dog’s body was taken to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University by the Law Enforcement Liaison for the Animal Rescue League Alan Borgal.
“The defendant’s alleged actions are truly disturbing,” Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle said. “This arrest would not have been possible without the close collaboration among our officers and our partners with the Animal Rescue League and federal law enforcement.”
The Herald reports a home health care aide saw Crook strike the animal. Crook hog-tied the dog outside his home, the newspaper reports.