Friday, June 12, 2009

Horse Racing - Not as Harmless as it Seems

The recent running of the Preakness makes me think of how we treat (or perhaps mistreat) the animals in this 'sport of Kings'. The sad fact is that the price our equine friends pay for this 'so called' sport is very high indeed.

The race track is rife with abuse and inhumane treatment of these noble animals. At what point will we realize that the ends do not justify the means? Horses sent to slaughter in droves or animals fracturing their legs in that ultimate race - is this something we can call a sport? Have we lost our conscience? As long as we are not responsible for the abuse, can we then turn a blind eye?

These abuses are taking place out in the open, not in some dank, dark alley. All in pursuit of the almighty buck. Take what happened to Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby. If the industry cannot even take proper care of their 'shining stars', what is happening to the rest of these animals? This is definitely not an instance where ignorance is bliss. Just because these horrors are not happening in front of our face does not mean that they should not be addressed. Is our entertainment so important that we can justify this kind of exhorbitant price?

Who out there is not crushed by the vision of this amazing animal 'Eight Belles' racing toward the finish line on broken legs? I think this is a stunningly sad commentary on the human race. How can we remain complicit in such abuses just to satisfy our entertainment needs?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stop the Killing

They are doing it again, talking about exterminating countless animals, because they are getting in our way. Apparently the wild horse population has once again become a nuisance to our cattle farmers. So, what will we do? Well, we'll kill them. What else would a rational community do? Please stand up for these animals. As we continue to run roughshod over are environment, it amazes me that we are surprised when Mother Earth decides to fight back.

I just hope we smarten up, before it's too late. If we don't, maybe this big footprint that we are leaving in our wake will come back and step all over us.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hypocracy or Not?

I admit it, I am not a very good blogger. I have been spending so much time working on my novels and the publication of my first Young Adult novel; The Secret of Bigelow Hollow, that there is not much time left for blogging. My apologies.
I am trying to do better though.
I recently got an invitation to a fundraiser for an animal shelter. I love the idea of supporting groups like these. They do such great work. Without them, who knows how many other animals would lose their lives. I, personally, have never gotten an animal from a pet store or a breeder. I have had a multitude of cats and dogs, each one of them have been orphaned in some way and found their way to me, or I have found them at a shelter or pet rescue facility.
What struck me as ironic about this invitation was that it is for a dinner function. The main course is chicken. Now first I should say, that, as much as I agree with the philosophy - I am not a vegetarian. I guess, right off the bat, that makes me a hypocrite. I have, in the last couple of years, tried to cut back on my consumption of meat, particularly red meat, but I am far from perfect.
I guess I just thought it was odd that we would be supporting the lives of numerous domestic animals while feasting over the bodies of dozens of feathered creatures.
I understand that the world is not going to revert to a vegan diet any time soon. Heck, I can't even manage to do it in my own little corner of the world. I guess I just find it a little disturbing, how we can so easily block out the anquish and torment that our food animals suffer every day.
If I ever had to hunt for my food or visit a slaughterhouse to choose my desired cut of meat, I would surely be unable to maintain my flesh eating ways. But it is so easy to walk into the bright surroundings of any local grocery store and choose just the right neatly wrapped cut of meat. A neat package that is so removed from the steer riding up the conveyor belt, awaiting a nail through the brain.
I don't know what the answer is. Maybe it should not be so easy for us to take these lives for granted.
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Friday, February 8, 2008


What Price that Chicken Leg?
Today I caught some of the Opie and Andy morning show. I am not a big fan, but living in rural CT, I am limited as to what stations I can receive to wake me in the morning. They were talking about cruelty to animals. Specifically, they were talking about the killing of chickens in slaughterhouses. I only listened for a few minutes, but what they were trying to say, I think, was that the United States was in no position to cast stones at the Dominican Republic for their legalization of cock fighting.I would have to agree.They proceeded to roll some tape about some pretty horrific goings on in the places from whence our chicken dinners come from.

I think most people would agree that slaughterhouses are abhorrent, but nonetheless are necessary evils in a society that has no intention of converting to vegetarian practices any time soon.
The real problem, I suppose - if you concede that this killing is a necessity, is in the way it is being done. Apparently, although if you thought about it - predictably, these slaughterhouses attract all kinds of demented individuals. I mean really - who dreams of working in a slaughterhouse when they grow up? It seems that the people who work in these places (and of course let me qualify that to some) actually enjoy their job much too much.These tapes recorded incidents of stepping on the chickens, running over them with the truck, breaking their legs and backs and all manner of gratuitous cruelty that was not part of the normal killing process.

As with my entry about the dead horse, I have to wonder exactly how many new Ted Bundys are in the making at places like these. You might ask which came first, the chicken or the egg. I would excuse the pun and say I don't think it really matters where these perverts are created. What matters is that we are not weeding them out and getting rid of them. And yet, we continue to complain when we can't be safe walking our streets, driving in our cars or even in our homes.

In the end, I guess I am saying that the practice of slaughtering animals is necessary, the abuse is not and someone needs to step in for the animals.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shark Finning - Barbaric and Wasteful

Shark finning

Yet another appalling example of man's inhumanity, stupidity and wastefulness.

It was just a few moments of a 60 Minutes documentary, caught accidentally, while rushing out the door.
The story was on sharks; the increasing popularity of shark watches, contrasted by the intense fear of shark attacks. They spoke of the unlikelihood of such an attack; a fraction of the chance you run making toast in the morning. (Apparently, large numbers of people are being electrocuted by their toasters)
A psychologist spoke of the visceral paranoia we have about sharks, stemming from our fear of being eaten. Legitimate though it may be, in this day and age it is not a common occurrence.
Now don't get me wrong. I am not terribly fond of sharks. On my list of favorites, they rank only slightly higher than snakes and creepy crawly things. I am also fond of my anatomy the way it is and would rather not have it altered by some marauding shark looking for a snack.
The issue I have is what comes next. It seems that, predictably so, it is the sharks who have much more to fear from us than we of them.
Apparently, in China I believe it was, someone decided that shark fin soup was a delicacy. Mmmmmm, yummy, you say. Well, be that as it may. Sharks are not the first species we have killed for food, and I am sure they will not be the last. Do I have some basic objection to slaughtering these creatures for food? No more than the cow or chicken. I have, sadly, not yet dealt with my own hypocrisy on that front.
What I take issue with is the way it is being done.
Because these fishermen are only interested in the fins, they drag this writhing beast onto the boat, chop off its fins and drop it back into the ocean where it will sink like a stone to the bottom and die. Maybe it's just me, but I find this to be simply horrifying, barbaric and tragically wasteful. When will we stop treating animals as if they are tree stumps. We harpoon them, shoot them and knock them over the head as if they feel and understand nothing.
It is a reality that we feed much of the world's population with living creatures farmed from the ocean. That is not going to change overnight, but how can we justify dumping 80-90% of a carcass into the ocean to rot when there are so many starving people in the world. Once again, the justification is the almighty buck. Why waste cargo space on shark meat that could feed a multitude of starving families, when you can better use that space to store a larger quantity of high-priced fins. We are truly an insane and heartless group, not to mention hypocritical. When one of our own gets attacked by a shark, we immediately mobilize. Vigilante groups are formed and the search begins for the creature that perpetuated the attack.
HOW DARE IT!!! we cry. Yet, without a second thought, we continue with a daily slaughter of thousands of animals, not to appease our hunger, but our pocketbooks and our vanity.
One can only hope that the perpetrators of these atrocities will suffer similar fates one day at the hand of their maker.
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Unspeakable Cruelty


The Monsters Among Us

We know it is there, we hear evidence of it whenever it is a quiet news day. But we tune it out, we don’t have to look at it - stare it in the face - take some action. We put blinders on; push it to the back of our minds - ‘there are so many more important things to think about’. Then, one day, there is something we cannot ignore. A story, an image that confirms, unequivocally, that yes, there are truly monsters walking among us. For what, besides pedophilia or child abuse, is more distressing, more unjustifiable, more horrendous than abuse of innocent animals.

I am not talking here about the garden variety slaughter of animals by the millions/nay billions and the deplorable conditions these animals exist in - all in the name of putting a prime cut of meat on our tables. As horrible as this is, it is of a different nature and is a discussion for another day. Today, I am talking only of the nightmarish cruelty and criminal neglect of the animals we call our pets.

For me, it came in the form of an image, an internet picture of a blinding truth. It was something that could not be ignored. Come upon quite by accident, it seared itself onto my retinas. This image, once branded into my brain, could not be forgotten.

We hear all the tragic stories - owner dies - dogs found starving, or elderly woman with a heart bigger than her wallet is found with 150 cats in appalling conditions. Then there are the stories of ignorance. ‘I didn’t know you had to trim a pony’s feet - I thought he was just getting taller’, or ‘who knew that if I tied my dog on the deck he might fall off and hang himself’. This image did not fall into either of these categories; rather, this was a picture not of ignorance or unfortunate circumstances, but of pure evil. The evidence within its borders depicted an unspeakably malicious intent.

What had once been a beautiful, majestic horse lay bloated and torn in a pile of debris and filth. She lay there on her side, with a death grip on the 4x4 post that had become the instrument of her destruction. We can only guess at how many days this proud animal stood, hobbled front and back, innocently trusting that someone would eventually come and care for her. How many days before, mad with hunger and thirst, she began to challenge her restraints, and still no one came. Death is never a pretty sight, but this snapshot of time is literally too painful to look upon. It clearly portrays the work of evil.

Whether dog, cat, horse or other domestic animal, we have bred them over many centuries to be one thing above all else - subservient. The dog, lying curled at our feet, does not want or expect its masters kick, yet when it comes he will return with head down and tail between his legs, questioning what he has done to displease. The cat, purring in our lap, wants nothing more than food, water and an occasional stroke of its fur. Yet for some, that is still too much to ask. The horse, large and powerful as he is, bends his will to humans 1/5 his size. One thousand pounds of muscle and bone, properly directed, with the proper intent, could crush the life out of most humans. And yet, they give themselves over to us completely - ‘tell me where to stand, what to eat, when to work or sleep’. And how do we repay this gift - this complete trust, this greatest of gifts, given with no higher price tag than that of care and affection?

Most people understand and respect this unspoken pact. Then what can be said about the monster that committed this atrocity and others like it? Would any person with the barest ounce of humanity be able to commit such an act? It is common practice to label those who commit heinous acts as animals. If animals were capable of acting in such a way, none of us would be safe. What kind of a malignancy allows one to torture another living being in such a slow, methodical and calculating way, day after day, turning a deaf ear to an animals tormented cries as death approaches? One can only hope that these travesties, masquerading as human beings, will find a special place in hell reserved just for them.

Equally incomprehensible to me, is the fact that this all took place in our own back yard. This did not happen in some 3rd world country, but in one of the wealthiest and most educated states in the country, Connecticut. As this tragic struggle ensued between animal and starvation, did we pass this poor animal’s tormentor on the highway, stand behind it at the grocery checkout, or have it servicing our new car. Sadly, they wear no signs like ‘monster within’ or ‘evil lurking inside’.

What motivates such evil? First, we have to ask; why get the animal in the first place? In most instances, there is at least some initial expenditure, especially in acquiring a horse. So why? Owning animals is not a requirement, a societal imperative or even an expectation. Although there are many who feel the pressure to have both spouse and children to achieve respectability, there is no such expectation with animals. The answer is horrific but inescapable. For some, it may be a sick need to have something weaker around on which they can vent their rage or perversions. But, everyone has bad days; a fight with a spouse, a lay-off notice at work or 3 hours in traffic. We all have them, days when we come home with the urge to break a few dishes or kick the crap out of our furniture. The fact that most of us have learned to manage our anger in more appropriate ways aside, is this what happened here? What kind of dementia would have to take control of a mind to move it to an act of such cruelty? And even if we could comprehend it, this was no single act of rage; this was an extended period of torture. The resulting conclusion is frightening in its potential accuracy - these are Ted Bundys and Jeffrey Dahlmers in the making; sick, demented creatures working their way toward human torture.

So if we won’t do something for the animals, maybe we will do something for ourselves. But, how can we see the monsters within? How can we pick them from the crowd, avoid them, castrate them, stop them? Are we just not aware enough? Do we have to look deeper - read more into our co-worker’s covert smile, our neighbor’s secretive nature? Should every reclusive loner be suspect? For now, maybe just being more aware, inquisitive and pro-active may be our best course. But, for the future, we need to advocate for tighter restrictions and much more severe penalties for animal abuse. That can only happen when we recognize the full value of each life, no matter how small. That means a change in our priorities.

We pursue years of school and training for our jobs. We require licenses to drive a car or enter into a marriage with another consenting adult, yet any idiot that can draw a breath or write a check can have a child or be entrusted with the care of an animal, no training required. And thus, our victims are created; a bottomless pool for any pervert, abuser or pedophile to dunk into as deeply or as often as they like, without restriction or repercussion. It is our job as a society to take their ladles away, once and for all.
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