A woman killed during an animal rights protest in front of a Burlington slaughterhouse is being remembered as a compassionate person who just wanted to give water to thirsty pigs on a scorching hot day.
Regan Russell, who was identified as the victim in a release by Animal Justice, was struck by a transport truck that was hauling pigs through the gates of Fearmans Pork meat processing facility at Appleby Line and Harvester Road around 10:20 a.m. on Friday.
The truck with its cargo of squealing pigs remained at the scene for several hours as police blocked off the area and began their investigation.
An officer was observed removing a sign that read, “Animals need protection under the law” and a large yellow and white water bottle could be seen on the ground beside the gate.
Burlington resident Martin Foebel, who was having his breakfast across the street from the plant in the Wendy’s parking lot when the incident happened, described what he saw.
“The truck was there for about four or five minutes. The protesters were there. Then they walked away from the truck when they were done,” said Foebel.
There has been a pedestrian fatality at Harvester Rd. and Appleby Line in Burlington. Our Collision Reconstruction Unit will be on scene for several hours while they conduct an investigation. We are asking motorists to kindly avoid the area.
With growing awareness of the benefits of eating more plant-based foods for animals, the planet and our health, so many people are reducing their reliance on animal products in favor of plant-based alternatives.Photo by Amy Webster/The HSUS
Last year, when KFC launched a new, plant-based chicken at one of its Atlanta locations, it sold out within five hours, with lines wrapped around the block to try it. According to the New York Times, sales of the plant-based boneless wings and nuggets in a single day equaled sales of its popular, animal-based popcorn chicken in an entire week, leading the company to declare it a “Kentucky Fried Miracle.”
KFC went on to test the plant-based chicken at an additional 70 locations in North Carolina and Tennessee in February 2020, again with great success. This is amazing, and it shows the scope of the large market that exists for meatless meat products all over the United States. So we have been hopeful that KFC will offer its meatless chicken at franchises nationwide.
The moment is just right for anyone looking to venture into plant-based foods, including plant-based meats, which are innovative, protein-packed foods that mimic the texture and taste of meat. With growing awareness of the benefits of eating more plant-based foods for animals, the planet and our health, so many people are reducing their reliance on animal products in favor of tasty plant-based alternatives. According to a 2019 Gallop poll, “[f]our in 10 Americans have personally tried plant-based meats.” And a 2020 Yale survey found that, “more than half of Americans (55%) say they are willing to eat more plant-based meat alternatives.”
Many fast food chains like Burger King, Carl’s Jr., White Castle, Del Taco and Dunkin’ already offer plant-based options, with tremendous success. After launching the Impossible Burger, Jose Cil, who is the CEO of Restaurant Brands (the parent company of Burger King), noted that the offering was “one of the most successful product launchesin Burger King’s history.” After debuting a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich at more than 9,000 Dunkin’ locations in 2019, Dunkin’ CEO David Hoffman said he was “happy with [Dunkin’s] first venture into” plant-based menu offerings, and said the company is discussing more plant-based options in the future.
KFC already has gotten a taste of this success, not just here in the United States but also globally. In April, the company debuted plant-based chicken nuggets at three locations in China and they were such a hit that they sold out at a Shanghai KFC within an hour of launching. KFC Canada partnered with Lightlife, a plant-based protein company, to make a fried “chicken” sandwich and plant-based “popcorn chicken,” which also sold out. In the United Kingdom, KFC sold one million plant-based chicken sandwiches throughout January 2020, which is the equivalent of one plant-based sandwich sold every three seconds.
We applaud KFC for its success with plant-based options and thank the company for its foresight in creating them. And today, we have one friendly request for the company: please launch these delicious meatless options nationwide so customers around the country can enjoy them.
Given the market for meatless meats today, which research shows extends well beyond vegans and vegetarians, this is a decision the company would not be likely to regret. You can lend your voice to continue such positive progress. Please click here to let KFC decision makers know just how much support exists for plant-based offerings.
Here is the full quotation, because I don’t want people to think I’m fabricating what these thoroughly uninformed people wrote.
“The concept of ‘sentient beings’ refers to beings with the power to reason and think. The term also implies beings with an awareness of their surroundings who respond to sensations, have cognitive thoughts and have the capacity to perceive and experience life subjectively. Feeling is a subjective state, available only to the animal feeling it. As animals and humans are built and function differently, it is unfair to automatically attribute the sensations experienced by humans to be the same as those experienced by animals. Humans have the ability to communicate their experiences, and what they feel. Since animals cannot communicate with us, there’s a huge assumption by animal activists that animals have emotional responses and the ability to reason and think, in the same way that humans do. We simply do not know if animals are capable of reasoning and cognitive thought, therefore we cannot attribute human qualities of reasoning and cognitive thought on animals as the activists would like.” (My emphasis) —OFA [Ontario Federation of Agriculture] submission to the Standing Committee on General Government regarding the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act (Bill 156)
I wanted to know more about what was happening on the ground in Ontario, so I contacted Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and the Executive Director of Animal Justice. Here’s some of what she wrote. The Canadian province of Ontario is currently trying to ram through an ag-gag law in the midst of a pandemic. The bill would outlaw whistleblower exposés on farms and in slaughterhouses, and is fiercely opposed by animal advocacy organizations, consumer protection groups, civil libertarians, and journalists. Instead of acknowledging their own wrongdoing, the response from the powerful farming industry has been to lobby for so-called ag-gag laws that make it illegal to film and expose cruelty in the first place. The legislative hearings on Ontario’s ag-gag bill have given us a rare glimpse of the utter indifference that many farmers still have for animal suffering, and indeed their denial of basic science about the emotional and cognitive abilities of animals.
Canada unfortunately has some of the worst animal protection laws in the Western world, and Ontario’s ag-gag bill is about to make a bad situation far worse. Governments do not regulate animal welfare conditions on farms, and farmers are typically exempt from general animal cruelty laws. Farmers engage in a variety of standard yet painful practices with impunity, such as slicing off chicken beaks and piglet tails without anesthesia. To make matters worse, there is no public inspection of animal facilities. With no legal standards to enforce, what would be the point? Instead, the farm industry is left to make up its own rules.
Most people have compassion for animals but are often unaware of how badly animals suffer on farms. When they learn the truth, their trust in the farming industry plummets, and they consider dietary changes to avoid contributing to suffering.
Where have all the science and scientists gone?
As a scientist, I often wonder: Where have all the science and scientists gone, and why hasn’t every scientist spoken out against such trash. Why aren’t they outraged by OFA’s utter nonsense? And the OFA isn’t alone in putting forth such junk. In the United States, laboratory rats and mice and other fully sentient animals aren’t considered to be animals under the guidelines of the Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). No joke. The science that clearly shows these rodents are sentient beings continues to be totally ignored.1,2
To summarize, who (not what) we eat is a moral question and scientists must speak out. Concerning the notion of who we eat, Ms. Labchuk writes, “Of course, considering the ‘who’ is a massive public relations problem for farmers. The meat industry’s business model depends on ignoring their suffering by crowding chickens raised for meat into dark, windowless warehouses; stuffing egg-laying hens into tiny battery cages; and confining mother pigs in gestation crates so small that they can’t even turn around or play with their babies. Animals are trucked to slaughter when their short lives are over. The victims of the meat industry have few opportunities to experience positive emotional states, and experience significant pain and suffering.”
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s conceptualization of the cognitive and emotional lives of clearly sentient beings is pure fiction and should be read as such. Their misguided views support and will continue to perpetuate the extremely cruel and brutal treatment of “food animals” and ignore a wealth of scientific data. It’s high time to bridge the “knowledge translation gap” and use what we know to truly help other animals. The “knowledge translation gap” refers to the practice of ignoring tons of science showing that nonhumans are sentient beings and going ahead and causing intentional harm in human-oriented arenas.
How we treat these and other clearly sentient nonhumans isn’t necessarily a matter of rights. Rather, it’s a matter of decency and depends on using what we know—and have known for a long time—on the animals’ behalf. Indeed, we are obligated to do so.
1) Here are some essays on the emotional lives of so-called “food animals.”
2) In the 2002 iteration of the United States Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) we read, “Enacted January 23, 2002, Title X, Subtitle D of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, changed the definition of ‘animal’ in the Animal Welfare Act, specifically excluding birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research.
: Your step-by-step guide to justify killing animals and destroying the planet.
Step 1: REMIND THEM THAT OUR ANCESTORS ATE MEAT- No vegan is aware of this, but one thing they are aware of is that if humans have been doing something for thousands of years, it must be acceptable. After all, there’s nothing worse than moral progress!
Step 2: BECOME A PLANT RIGHTS ACTIVIST- Everyone knows that cutting the throat of live animals and cutting vegetables is the same thing. Vegans aren’t aware of the fact that plants feel pain too, and make sure to raise your voice whenever a vegan cuts a carrot.
Step 3: ASK THEM WHAT THEY’D DO IF THEY WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND- Vegans routinely get stuck on desert islands and have to eat animals of desert for survival.
Step 4: REMIND THEM THAT EATING MEAT ISN’T ILLEGAL – If politicians think killing animals is okay, then it must be!
Step 5: SHOUT “UMM CHICKEN” REPEATEDLY- Vegans have never heard of this product. This will disorientate the vegan.
Step 6: POINT AT YOUR CANINE TEETH-
we know that if you have a body part capable of doing something, that means it’s okay to do whatever it/they can be used for. For consistency, make sure to sexually assault someone and then point at your penis when the police questions you why you did it.
Step 7: TELL THEM THAT WE NEED TO EAT ANIMAL PRODUCTS TO SURVIVE- Many vegans are unaware of the fact that they are actually dead, much like Bruce Willis’ character in ‘The Sixth Sense’.
Step 8: TELL THEM THAT MEAT IS TASTY- vegans aren’t aware of this, since none of them have ever eaten meat in their entire lives. Just tell them meat is yummy,they will definitely start killing animals for meat.
Step 9: TELL THEM VEGAN FOOD TASTES LIKE SHIT- It’s a well known fact that not a single one of the 20,000 edible plant species on earth or the spices and other products derived from them are even slightly appetising.
Step 10: REMIND THEM THAT THEY USE ELECTRICITY AND MOBILE PHONES- Being involved in a justice movement is hypocritical if you use electricity or mobile phones. Be sure to also tell racial equality campaigners, women rights and gay rights activists and anti child abuse campaigners that their cause is pointless for the same reason.
Step 11: CALL THEM PUSSY AND WEAK- we all know the one who cares for the weak and voiceless is pussy and weak by heart, tell them that killing the weakest animals remorselessly is what makes us strong.
Step 12: REMIND THEM THAT YOUR SITUATION IS JUST LIKE A LION’S – tell them you eat meat because you wanna be a lion! Let them know about that one time you stalked your prey down in a jungle with your canine teeth and flawless strength of your jaws and limbs to feed your family who was dying of hunger.
Step 13: MAKE THEM AWARE OF HOW YOU EATING MEAT AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS ACTUALLY BENEFITS THINGS- Finally, make the vegan aware of all the good eating meat, cheese, milk, eggs, fish, etc. does for animals, the environment, and other humans. Seeing as veganism helps none of those things, this will make the vegan realise which is the cause REALLY worth fighting for.
Step 14:- MAKE THEM AWARE THAT WE ARE OMNIVORES BECAUSE WE CAN MAKE WEAPONS TO HUNT ANIMALS- many vegans aren’t aware that even if we are not biologically and naturally capable of hunting animals, we can use weapons to kill them,so that makes us omnivores, for consistency make sure to kill your neighbour’s dog with a weapon and tell them that you did it because you are an omnivore.
STEP 15- LET THEM KNOW THE FARM ANIMALS ARE RAISED BY US SO ITS OK TO TAKE THEIR LIVES AWAY- for consistency kill your own children and tell the police that you did it because you brought them into existence, police will definitely understand you.
Step 16- TELL THEM ITS YOUR PERSONAL CHOICE – it’s a well known fact that its a personal choice to cut the throats of the animals just to eat them.
Step 17- TELL THEM VEGANS ARE ANNOYING AND THEY SHOULDN’T ACT AS IF THEY ARE SUPERIOR TO EVERYONE ELSE- Despite the fact that they do live by a higher ethical standard, they shouldn’t feel superior just because they don’t take lives of the animals. Let them know killing animals is what makes us superior.
Step 18- TELL THEM ITS THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST- Its a well known fact that the strong prey on the weak and nature is cruel, for consistency make sure to kill little kids and then tell the police “its survival of the fittest,the strong prey on the weak and tell them nature is cruel”.
Step 19- FINALLY SHUT THEM UP AND TELL THEM TO STOP FORCING THEIR BELIEFS DOWN YOUR THROAT- we all know that forcing knives against the Throats of animals is better than forcing our beliefs down someone’s throat who isn’t comfortable with hearing the truths.
‘I want justice for all those who have died and suffered’
Sir Paul McCartney turns 78 on June 18 and before he blows the candles, he wants a birthday present.
He wants his fans to ditch meat.
In a guest blog postfor animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the Beatles legend wrote: “All I’ve ever wanted for my birthday is peace on Earth – including for animals.
“That’s why this year, I’m urging fans to watch a video I hosted for PETA, titled ‘Glass Walls’. We called it that because if slaughterhouses had glass walls, who would want to eat meat?”
The 12-minute clip starring McCartney was shot 10 years ago to expose the extent of animal suffering within slaughterhouses. It contains real-life footage of cows, chickens, sheep and other animals who are abused on factory farms across Europe and around the world.
“The video debuted exactly 10 years ago. Since then, the public has finally got a peek at what happens inside the meat trade, and the demand for vegan food is sky high,” he continued in his blog.
The ongoing pandemic has brought the spotlight back on the perilous nature of the meat industry and the dangers associated with it. Crowded and filthy factory farms, abattoirs, and meat markets put each human being on the planet at risk by providing a breeding ground for deadly pathogens like the ones behind COVID-19, SARS, bird flu, and more.
Public Health England states: “Many (60 to 80% [of]) emerging infections are derived from an animal source.”
According to experts, the COVID-19 outbreak originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where humans had direct contact with live animals and dead animal flesh.
“Whether you’re worried about diseases that spring from slaughterhouses, the animals who suffer terribly and needlessly, or the catastrophic impact of the meat industry on our environment, please watch this short video and share it with your friends. Thank you,” McCartney added in his post.
‘You’ve got to change things at some point’
McCartney is a passionate animal activist and has advocated vegetarianism for 45 years after ditching meat along with his partner the late Linda McCartney more than 40 years ago.
In April, on a call with US radio host Howard Stern on Sirius XM, McCartney said it was high time wet markets were banned: “I think it makes a lot of sense…when you’ve got the obscenity of some of the stuff that’s going on there and what comes out of it, they might as well be letting off atomic bombs. It’s affecting the whole world.”
Comparing the markets to slavery he said: “I understand that part of it is going to be, ‘People have done it forever. This is the way we do things.’ But they did slavery forever, too. You’ve got to change things at some point.”
‘Saying nothing is not an option’
Standing for equal rights & justice, the former Beatles star has also spoken out against racism following the death of George Floyd.
Sharing a post on Instagram, he said: “I know many of us want to know just what we can be doing to help. None of us have all the answers and there is no quick fix but we need change.
“We all need to work together to overcome racism in any form. We need to learn more, listen more, talk more, educate ourselves and, above all, take action.”
Recalling how The Beatles stood up against racism during the band’s 1964 U.S. tour, he said: “I feel sick and angry that here we are almost 60 years later and the world is in shock at the horrific scenes of the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of police racism, along with the countless others that came before.“All of us here support and stand alongside all those who are protesting and raising their voices at this time. I want justice for George Floyd’s family, I want justice for all those who have died and suffered. Saying nothing is not an option.”
While governments act aggressively to save lives, stop any further spread of COVID-19, and reopen their economies, let’s not wait to prevent the next virus. More will come. Pandemics are picking up their pace. Thankfully, prevention is entirely possible — especially now that behavior change is on the table.
All it takes is a willingness to reconsider how we consume, trade, and treat animals. Big ask? Maybe. But everything should be on the table when hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.
Here’s the opportunity: If we stop packing animals into crowded, confined areas — to be slaughtered for protein or parts — and if we stop cutting down and endangering their habitat, we can avoid infectious, animal-borne diseases like COVID-19, SARS, the swine flu, and more. (For these reasons, and more, Goldman Sachs now says livestock commodities are looking as ‘precarious as oil’ and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker are calling for a ban on factory farms.)
That’s right. No more lockdowns. No more makeshift morgues. No more market crashes.
It’s that simple. If we want to save human lives and prevent mass casualties from COVID-like catastrophes, all we have to do is rethink and reconfigure our relationship with the animal world.
Now that social distancing is a common practice among most populations, to prevent the transmission of the virus, that’s now what animals need to be able to do, too. But in nature. We’ve already altered 75 percent of their land habitat and two-thirds of their marine habitat. That has to stop, now.
A failure to do so — or worse, by locking them up in factory farms in Waco, Texas, and wet markets in Wuhan, China — makes it all the more likely that another deadly pathogen, which should’ve stayed in nature, gets passed to humans.
While presidents and governors will prefer to emphasize that the next deadly virus is controllable primarily through better detection, monitoring and quick response — which is, of course, essential, too — the only real way to truly safeguard society is to stop the industrial and factory farming of animals.
Here’s how bad it’s become: globally, concentrated animal feeding operations — or CAFOs — account for 72 percent of the poultry we consume, 42 percent of eggs, and 55 percent of pork production. In the United States, over 50,000 facilities classify as CAFOs, with another 250,000 industrial-scale facilities just below that classification.
How many animals are confined in these crowded and virus-friendly conditions? In the U.S., that’s 9 billion chickens, 250 million turkeys, 113 million pigs, and 33 million cows — annually.
That’s almost 10 billion ways to start a virus — in just one year in the U.S. alone. And we know that America’s pigs, as just one example, here — most of which are farmed in industrial facilities without fresh air or sunlight — can kill thousands of Americans with a simple swine-flu virus. Over 12,000 Americans died from H1N1 in 2009 — and remember that was from factory farms in the United States.
Seemingly, no federal guidelines are governing how these animals are used and abused. And many U.S. states are trying to punish those who speak out against these cruel factory farms, which is why Animal Legal Defense Fund, and others, are providing these animals fair representation in court. It’s good someone is. A failure to protect these animals results in a failure to protect our health.
Compounding these health concerns, of course, is industrial animal farming’s heavy use of antibiotics, which ends up leaving humans — who consumed antibiotic-laden animal products — all the more vulnerable to bacteria during a pandemic. The result of all of this? People are more susceptible to attack from a diseased, factory-farmed animal.
And if health reasons weren’t sufficient to win the hearts and minds, perhaps economics will. Industrial animal farming is the least efficient and most expensive way to provide protein to humans. It’s two-three times as valuable as plant-based proteins and incredibly inefficient use of cropland, grains, and water for animal consumption (akin to have multiple middle-managers in a supply chain). Turn those crops into direct plant-protein providers for humans — a much more efficient plant-to-mouth supply chain — and we could easily, and nutritiously feed our growing population — as many as 10 billion by 2050.
That’s the opportunity here. And sure, we could also talk about all of the environmental problems associated with industrial animal farming, which include toxic waste, dangerous and deadly pesticide use, and excessive and exorbitant greenhouse gas emissions that come from animal products. Beef protein’s carbon footprint, for example, is 150 times as high as the same amount of plant protein. But if that hasn’t yet motivated people to switch off their factory-farmed animal food, perhaps the prospect of another pandemic will.
All of this seems way too risky to continue. And until we leave this practice behind, putting animals in unhealthy, crowded and immune-compromised positions — as we are doing globally with our factory farms, wet markets, and more — will continue to put us in similarly immune-compromised positions and kill tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people, each time these pandemics pop up. It’s time to do better. It’s time to save human lives. It’s time to shut down industrial animal farming.
Michael Honda is a former Member of Congress Honda now serves on the board of local Silicon Valley startups and is working on the legislative campaign to repeal the Alien Enemy Act of 1798. Michael Shank is a former congressional staffer and adjunct faculty at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs.
Most people in China do not eat dog and cat meat, and animals who end up in this trade are often stolen pets who meet a gruesome end. Photo by Peter Li/HSI
In recent months, China has made rapid progress toward quashing its infamous wildlife and dog meat trades. Last week, we got more good news on this front: China officially confirmed that dogs are pets and are not livestock for eating; and Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, prohibited residents from consuming all wildlife.
The declaration that dogs are companions and not livestock, first proposed in April, comes just weeks ahead of the Yulin dog meat festival, which begins June 21st, and where thousands of dogs and cats are killed for their meat each year. We hope this new development will lead to authorities in Yulin reining in—and even putting a complete stop to—this terrible event.
We also hope the declaration will lead China to act swiftly to end the dog and cat meat trade wherever it exists in the nation. Most people in China do not eat dog and cat meat, and animals who end up in this trade are often stolen pets who meet a gruesome end.
Unfortunately, the final livestock list issued by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs does include some wild animals, including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, who suffer immensely in the fur trade. Keeping these animals in close, confined conditions has been known to increase the risk of zoonotic disease spread. We call on China to reconsider this decision and ensure that all wild animals are kept off the livestock list, and to ban the fur trade as well, if it truly wants to rebrand itself as a nation that cares about global human health and animal welfare.
Wuhan’s ban on eating wild animals now brings up to four the total number of Chinese cities that have announced similar bans. In April, the city of Shenzhen first banned the eating of wildlife and included dogs and cats in its ban. Last week, the city announced a free program for microchipping all of the city’s 220,000 dogs to encourage responsible pet ownership and stop the stealing of dogs for the meat trade. Also last month, the city of Zhuhai adopted a ban on wildlife and dog and meat consumption and the nation’s capital city, Beijing, banned the eating of wildlife.
But while the bans in these other cities are permanent, the ban in Wuhan will only be in place for five years. We are calling on Wuhan to make its ban permanent, because science and history have shown that these markets present great health risk to humans and they need to be closed down in China and elsewhere around the globe where they exist.
We also urge China, which announced a temporary nationwide ban on wildlife consumption in February, to make that ban permanent.
Last month we reported that several provinces in mainland China, including Hunan and Jiangxi, are offering wildlife farmers a buy-out to move away from breeding wild animals for food and transition to alternative livelihoods such as growing fruit, vegetables, tea plants or herbs for traditional Chinese medicine. This plan is similar to the one we have implemented in South Korea, where we have been successfully transitioning farmers out of the dog meat trade and into more humane livelihoods for six years now.
The developments in China are being accelerated by the coronavirus crisis, but they are truly heartening for our Humane Society International team which, along with local partners on the ground, has been sowing the seeds for this transformation in attitudes and practice for years now. We have contributed to public education, met with government officials, assisted with the rescue of dogs and cats bound for slaughter, and brought global attention to China’s dog meat trade by focusing media attention on events like Yulin where companion animals suffer so terribly each year. We have also shone the spotlight on the wildlife trade, which has led to some species of wild animals, including pangolins and tigers, being pushed to the brink of extinction.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that treating animals cruelly can result in disaster for humans, and there hasn’t been a better time to recognize the harm these practices cause and to root them out. The momentum in China shows signs of growing even stronger: at the just concluded annual session of the National People’s Congress, delegates to the national legislature submitted several proposals to outlaw animal cruelty, shut down the wildlife trade, outlaw dog meat trade, ban the online transmission of animal cruelty images and videos and end animal performances. All of this is very promising, and we applaud the nation for moving forward on this important path that will benefit both its people and its animals for generations to come.
I WOULD like to gravitate our concerns towards a video that recently went viral, showing a helpless kitten being crushed over and over again by an adult woman for her entertainment/fetish.Also, we have news on 11 cats being ruthlessly poisoned to death over Hari Raya Aidilfitri at the Apartment Seri Lily Bukit Beruntung.
Animal cruelty is real and pervasive. It happens to all different types of animals and in every corner of the world. It is also preventable and unnecessary.
A composed ecosystem is made up of all living organisms. Within this system, all things have their rightful place and warrant the essential consideration and regard for that place and balance.
In the words of Albert Schweitzer, the Alsatian polymath (1875-1965): “We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do.
“True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognise it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”
Animals are entitled to the possession of their own existence and that their most basic interests – such as the need to avoid suffering – should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.
Therefore, it is prejudicial to oppose the suffering of humans while accepting the suffering of animals as simply a fact of life.
By respecting animal rights and having consideration for animal welfare, we also support ecological balance.
However, many animals endure heinous cruelties as people do not recognise that animals have rights, let alone the importance of having those rights.
As sentient beings, animals have the right to live a life free of agony and torment. Just because we are at the top of the food chain, it does not mean that we, humans, are the only ones with rights nor do we have the right to take animal rights away.
Animals couldn’t possibly speak for themselves and for that reason we have the responsibility to protect them. Safeguarding them is something we should take pride in.
It is important to view animals as having an intrinsic value separate from any value they have to humans and are worthy of moral consideration.
In his book Animal Liberation, Peter Singer says the fundamental dictum of equality does not prescribe equal or identical treatment; it demands equal consideration.
Animals are neither inanimate nor automata objects. They have the faculty to suffer in a similar manner and to the same degree that humans do.
Every action that we take which would impede with their needs and welfare, we are ethically obligated to take into account their ability to experience maternal love, fear, frustration, pain, pleasure and also depression.
Animals also have the faculty to exhibit empathy toward humans and other animals in a myriad of ways, particularly reassuring, mourning and even rescuing each other from harm at their own expense.
It is important to acknowledge that empathy in animals stretches across species and continents. This is not just sanguine thinking.
Research has disclosed that illuminating kids to be compassionate to animals can guide them to become good-natured and more heedful in their interactions with other humans.
Additionally, it helps them be more respectful and valuable to society. Francis of Assisi said: “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men”.
Animals are sentient beings and sentience is the only thing that matters when discussing those to whom we should give moral consideration.
In the words of Mohandas Ghandi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
Therefore, as a civilised society, we must count animals as worthy of moral consideration and ethical treatment. The question is not can they reason, nor can they talk, but can they suffer? – May 30, 2020.
* Suzianah Nhazzla Ismail reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.