by Orietta C. Estrada
January 14, 2014
It’s hard to believe that in the year 2014 that abuses and atrocities toward animals are still being committed. Even more difficult to accept is that these acts are legal. We think of ourselves in this country as innovators on the cutting edge of solving societal woes such as hunger, pollution, climate change and health problems, but all too often we allow greed and excess to lead where ethics and commonsense should.
At what point will these abuses stop? How far off the path of rightness will we need to go before we hit the dead end of wrong? It isn’t too late. Changes are happening now, but we have a long way to go and we must keep the momentum going! Speak up! Let your voice be heard through the megaphone of social change and soon these five cruel things may not be legal as they are today!
1. Trophy Hunting
Trophy hunting is a type of hunting where body parts of the dead animal e.g., antlers or paws, are kept as mementos, or trophies. It differs from traditional hunting because the animal is killed for fun and not killed for food. It is often mistaken as a sport, but really it’s an event for hunters who like to kill for fun.
Proponents of trophy hunting try to pass it off as a conservation effort, but the truth is, a very small portion of any money raised from organizing a hunt goes toward conservation. Typically, it goes to the middlemen.
The keeping of animals in captivity is a highly unregulated practice in the United States. Only 10 percent of the 2,000 captivity operations in the U.S. are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). What is more disturbing is who made it onto the accredited list (SeaWorld is on it, if you didn’t already know).
A sanctuary or rescue that breeds animals, does not release animals into the wild (where possible), or keeps animals as an attraction for profit (eh hem, SeaWorld) is a disgrace to the meaning of conservation and should be boycotted. The public will survive without animals being held in menageries. After all, Costa Rica seems to be doing just fine.
There are a number of humane alternatives to viewing animals in captivity, such as bird watching, visiting a national park, or visiting an accredited sanctuary. Capitalism has no place in conservation, unless the money is actually flowing to conservation efforts and not into the pockets of investors.
3. Animal Testing
Animals are fed diapers and weed-killers are sprayed into the eyes of rabbits? Why would an animal need to be fed diapers? Clearly, people eat food, not diapers. Why would weed-killer need to be sprayed into the eyes of rabbits? Nobody is planning to use weed-killer in place of eye drops. This makes no sense, especially when alternatives are available. Non-human animals are not the best alternative to testing. Simply put, our physiology is different.
With the advances in science that our society is witnessing, it seems as though testing on animals will soon be a thing of the past. It is already being phased out in China, and is partially banned in India and the EU. Are we next?
4. Equestrian Three-Day Eventing
The physical demands are so extreme for horses on a cross-country course that rules have been put into place to keep horses from being ridden to death (severe injuries and death are routine).
Christopher Reeve, the actor made famous by his part in the 1980s Superman franchise, was permanently paralyzed in a three-day event. Also, in a Rolex sponsored event, a horse named Frodo Baggins (made famous by his role in the first “Lord of The Rings” trilogy) suffered a fractured skull and was euthanized on the course, as was another horse the same day.
A source, formerly associated with this tight knit culture of riders, said, “I witnessed a skewed reality in which horses are referred to [by their owners and onlookers] as enthusiastic participants of this so-called sport.” This is tragic because it is clear to those of us outside of this portion of society that it is the so-called sportsmen’s hunger for danger that leads these horses to injury and death.
5. Factory Farming
This list wouldn’t be complete without a proper mention of factory farming. It all started with chickens, pre-WWII, when farmers strived to meet the supply and demand of city dwellers and developed cruel ways of keeping up. They laced feed with chemicals and vitamins to fatten up chickens, raised them in environments unsuitable for any living being, burned off their beaks to thwart cannibalism, and crammed them into wire cages, in order to mass produce them.
Images of factory-farmed animals conjure up, in most people, intense emotions. For this reason, factory farms are kept tucked away in the countryside outside of major cities — out of sight and out of the mind.
It is time to stop and accept that we are cohabitants of this planet and not the masters of it. There is only so much abuse that the land, air, water, animals, and humans can take before the planet is permanently destroyed.
This list was limited to just five cruel things that we expect animals to endure in this country, yet there are many more that can be added. But while it’s important to acknowledge and understand the cruel things we still do to so many animals, we should not allow these facts to push us into a depression; instead we should take these realities as a call to action. We have seen many victories for animals in just the last year alone — but we must keep up the fight to do better for additional victories to be won and to ensure that all of the world’s creatures have a voice. So always remember, Green Monsters: never give up!