Nearly half the people who stayed behind during Hurricane Katrina stayed because of their pets. Helicopters and boats would come, but the rescuers largely refused to take cats and dogs. So many owners, unwilling to abandon a family member, refused to go — and many of them died. Others did leave their pets, convinced they would be able to retrieve them in a few days. But officials kept them out for weeks, leaving the animals to fend for themselves. Dogs waited on rooftops, cats clung to debris in toxic waters, and pets starved to death in barricaded homes. Even for a nation grappling with the human tragedy of Katrina, the plight of dogs and cats struck a nerve. The public flooded Congress with letters, and in 2006 the legislature — despite being bitterly divided over war, immigration, and seemingly every Continue reading
I’ll keep this short and sweet, because we’ve made this point on the blawg several dozen times. NPR reports that the recent outbreak of H5N2, or Avian Flu, has caused economic hardship for American farmers, to the point that the USDA is importing eggs from the Netherlands to meet demand.
Although it is mentioned in the lead paragraph, the fact that nearly 50 million chickens and turkey have been slaughtered to stem the virus is played off like any other economic number. As you read the article, look at the wording: these animals have been “destroyed,” not “killed” or “slaughtered.” The rest of the article is about the business model and bottomline consequences. It might as well be about how many iPhones had to be recalled for defective touch screens. These aren’t living things, remember; they’re just animals, cogs in the machine. Nowhere in the article is any suggestion that this outbreak could be avoided by not housing birds in CAFOs in the first place, save for one link that claims humans might be spreading the virus by entering CAFOs. Instead, the US government has taken the position that this virus is the fault of wild birds. Any guesses as to which lobbying group might have had a hand in that statement?
We. Can. Stop. This. H5N2 is not some mystery beyond comprehension. It is a result of the way we raise farmed birds. Stop purchasing eggs and meat from CAFOs, and they cannot exist without your dollars. It really is that simple.
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal welfare, climate change, diet, factory farms, veganism, vegetarianism | Tagged: animal advocacy, animal ethics, animal rights, animal suffering, animal welfare, animals, battery cages, CAFOS, climate change, diet, egg production, factory farms, farmed animals, global warming, industrial farming, veganism, vegetarianism | 3 Comments »
The New York Times this week published an investigation into U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and, perhaps predictably, the results are disturbing. I heartily suggest reading the whole article, but for those in a rush, here are some of the interesting takeaway points:
- U.S. Meat Animal Research Center is pioneering ways to produce meat more efficiently and cheaply via re-engineering farmed animals through surgery and breeding techniques
- In pursuing this research, animal welfare has taken a backseat. For example, since 1985, 6,500 out of the 580,000 animals the center has housed have starved. 625 have died from mastitis, an easily treatable infection.
- Nearly 10 million piglets have been crushed by their mothers each year, not because this is what mothers naturally do, but because they are being forced to have larger litters of weak piglets, and the mothers themselves are artificially larger, kept alive longer to reproduce.
- For thirty-one years, the Center worked on genetically modifying cows to regularly produce twins, noting that single births were not an efficient way to produce meat. By injecting cows with embryos from other cows that birthed twins, and then injecting them with semen from bulls who sired twins, the Center produced cows that have a 55% chance of having twins, when naturally the chances are 3%. Many of the female calves of twins are born with deformed vaginas, and the artificially large wombs create birthing problems even for single calves. Over 16% of the twins died.
- Thirty to forty cows die each year from exposure to bad weather, not including storms, in which several hundred more die.
- 245 animals have died since 1985 due to treatable abscesses.
- In 1990, the Center tried to create larger lambs by injecting pregnant ewes with an excessive amount of male hormone testosterone. Instead, the lambs were born with deformed genitals, which made urination difficult.
- In 1989, the Center locked a young cow in place in a pen with six bulls for over an hour to determine the bulls’ libidos. The industry standard is to do this with one bull for fifteen minutes. By the time a vet was called, the cows hind legs were broken from being mounted, and she died within a few hours.
- The scientists charged with administering the experiments, surgeries, and to euthanize do not have medical degrees. One retired scientist at the Center was quoted saying, “A vet has no business coming in and telling you how to do it. Surgery is an art you get through practice.”
- “The leaner pigs that the center helped develop, for example, are so low in fat that one in five females cannot reproduce; center scientists have been operating on pigs’ ovaries and brains in an attempt to make the sows more fertile.”
- Regarding oversight, “A Times examination of 850 experimental protocols since 1985 showed that the approvals [for experiments] were typically made by six or fewer staff members, often including the lead researchers for the experiment. The few questions asked dealt mostly with housekeeping matters like scheduling and the availability of animals.”
- “The language in the protocols is revealing. While the words “profit” or “production efficiency” appear 111 times, “pain” comes up only twice.”
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal experimentation, animal law, animal rights, animal welfare, factory farms | Tagged: animal abuse, animal cruelty, Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, animal ethics, animal experimentation, animal law, animal rights, animal suffering, animal testing, animal welfare, animal welfare act, animals, AWA, bulls, CAFOS, calves, climate change, factory farming, factory farms, farmed animals, food, industrial farming, infrastructure, James Keen, lambs, meat, meat-eating, Michael Moss, New York Times, pigs, sheep, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, United States of America, veganism, vegetarianism | Leave a comment »
The coining of a new phrase, or a neologism, is a way of commanding the transformation of new and modern language. By commanding the transformation of language, and coining new words and phrases, one can bring society up to date in a rapidly changing world. In the animal advocacy world, neologisms are frequently formed for this very reason. For example, Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, coined the term “vegan” to describe individuals who abstain from the consumption and use of animal products. Another example, Richard D. Ryder, a British psychologist, animal advocate, and author, coined the term “speciesism” in 1970 and “painism” 1985. Speciesism opposes the assignment of moral values and protections on the basis of species alone, and painism argues that all beings that are capable of feeling pain deserve rights. A last example of neologisms in the animal advocacy world comes from Gary L. Francione, an American Legal Scholar, and Distinguished Professor of Law & Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers School of Law–Newark. Francione coined the term “New Welfarist” in his 1996 Continue reading
Traditionally, doctors take the Hippocratic Oath as an affirmation of the ethical responsibility that they have towards their patients. According to the American Medical Association, one principle of medical ethics is that “[a] physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.” What then are the duties of veterinarians, especially given the fact that animals are viewed as property under the law and often by society? To whom do the primary responsibilities of veterinarians lie?
Several years ago, my two pet rats became new patients at a veterinary office. As a part of their new patient paperwork, I was asked to select one of a handful of boxes describing how I viewed my pets and their possible treatment at the veterinary office. These options included: I consider my pet to be part of my family and I would do anything for them; I consider my pet to be part of my family, but I have financial constraints; I am only willing to pay so much to treat my pet; and so on (all of these options are paraphrased from the actual text on the form). I asked a staff member what purpose my selection would serve. She responded that the veterinarian would consider my response in recommending treatment options for my pet. In other words, this exemplified the fact that I, the pet owner, am the client of the veterinarian, not the pet as the patient.
The idea of going back to the basics for self-sufficient living is hardly new, but many people are choosing to do just that for a variety of reasons and in various levels of commitment. In 2011, Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, pledged to eat only animals that he killed himself. Although his personal challenge lasted just one year, it sparked an interest of living off the land for many. The Eat What You Kill Movement has supporters from survival, nutritional, and ethical standpoints. Survivalists argue that self-sufficient living allows one to rely and live off of the land, completely independent from societal norms such as trips to the local supermarkets. Those following the trend for nutritional purposes, such as Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Rogan, are attempting to avoid antibiotics and hormones commonly found in store bought meats. Ethical supporters of the movement believe that they are being compassionate to the animals they are eating. Continue reading