For the animal kingdom, the Holocaust never ended.” — Philip Wollen, former vice president of Citibank, vegan activist
To emphasize how badly someone was treated, people often say, “He was treated like an animal.” To describe how badly someone behaved, others often say, “He acted like an animal.” This consistent demonizing of animals, demeaning them, is as much a part of our cultural framework as fried chicken. Most animals are considered irrelevant, our abuse of them out of sight, and therefore out of mind — where most people like to keep it safe from examination. Safe from personal responsibility to act.
We all share equal responsibility for abuse of the vulnerable.
This is a chance to take a closer look at two of the most despised, forgotten, and abused animals — starting with the rat. A new study out of Japan states that rats are different, and better, than one might have been indoctrinated to think.
The Japanese study was designed to threaten the rats with drowning, often making them tread water for up to five minutes. Another rat, in an adjacent box, had the choice of saving the soggy rat by pushing open a door to allow moving to dry land, and learned quickly to rescue the rat in distress. If the adjacent cage was dry and the rat not in distress, the rats did not open the door. If the rat had already suffered the water routine, there was more likelihood of him moving faster to the rescue, suggesting empathy. Even given the choice of a chocolate treat and rescuing a fellow rat in distress, rats moved to help.
Over 100 million rats and mice are killed in laboratories every year, subjected to all sorts of diseases, invasive routines, amputations, tumor inducement, most often without any anesthesia. They make up 95 percent of the animals used in labs in this country. No experiment, no matter how painful, is illegal. Rats and mice are excluded from even the inadequate protections of the Animal Welfare Act. “They are considered so unimportant that no one has to report how many are experimented on.”
It is no wonder, with universities setting the example, routinely abusing animals in research, that our culture is so cruel and compromised.
The avian flu exposes another massive abuse of animals. Why is one farm in Jefferson County allowed to have more than 1 million chickens? How could that be healthy as food production or capable of humane oversight? Just in Wisconsin, 1.2 million chickens and 602,600 domesticated turkeys have been “depopulated.” However, 39 million birds have been “affected” in the United States since December. Their fate was the same mass killing.
Fourteen wild birds have been documented with avian flu, mostly in the western states. It seems odd that, with low wild contagion, the choice is to destroy almost 39 million domestic birds. Wouldn’t some of them develop immunity and manifest that immunity to be studied? Why not just quarantine them? Too much trouble, maybe.
Electrocution, stun guns, and decapitation are all methods commonly used to kill chickens, geese, ducks and turkeys for human consumption. They are not suitable tools for mass killing quickly. Carbon dioxide has been used extensively. The use of carbon monoxide is acceptable but “causes more convulsions.” The newest method is water-based foam, which can suffocate 15,000 chickens in 15 minutes. The FDA has approved it as humane. The link provided shows an example of chickens not in individual cages being suffocated as foam envelops them — “so the FDA allows the packaging of their dead flesh to be sold as ‘free range.'”
Karen Davis started United Poultry Concerns, “promoting the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.” Her website describes the environmental consequences of a factory farm the size of the one “depopulated” in Jefferson County: “A 1 million hen factory farm produces 125 tons of wet manure a day!”
Finally, trapping and fur farms indiscriminately destroy dwindling populations of wildlife. Like the use of mice in vivisection, fur farms and trapping are operated with no oversight or rules protecting animals from anal electrocution, bludgeoning, swinging them to the ground to kill them or bashing them against walls. Their format is animal abuse. Trapping and fur farms are expanding exponentially in Wisconsin. The relatively small number of people who inflict this on animals are more organized than the majority who could end it.
Year after year, “humane” people don’t bother to act. They don’t want to look at slaughterhouse videos, trapping videos, or animal experimentation. They would rather just shut their eyes and let this continue. James Baldwin wrote: “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”
You can sign and network a petition to Rep. Chris Taylor to author legislation to end trapping on Wisconsin publicly purchased lands, a petition to end trapping federally, and a petition to keep Wisconsin wolves protected.