Recently, the Humane Society of the United States (USUS) released results of an undercover investigation at the Hallmark Meat Packing Company in Chino, California. It garnered attention on the nightly news for oh, let’s say, about one night. But underlying this mistreatment of the downed cattle shown in the picture below and the video I have included, is a pervasive distinction and yes, hypocrisy, in this country between animals designated as “pets” and those not fortunate enough to generate that moniker.
A pet is “any domesticated animal kept as a companion.” If animals are labeled as pets, they are coddled, pampered, spoiled, decked out in special outfits, taken on trips, fed like royalty, inoculated against diseases, taken for regular health checkups, and left bequests in wills. If, on the other hand, animals are labeled as part of the food chain, they are prodded, shocked, beaten, kicked, stomped, and slaughtered. The only distinction? Their categorization – either as a pet or a food product. How is it we justify two entirely different treatment systems for animals?
An animal is an animal is an animal – the classification shouldn’t matter. I have been around both categories of animals. I have had dozens of pets over the years: dogs, cats, ferrets, and a wolf. I also have been around farm animals for about half of my 60 years – first, with my great grandfather and his farm, and later with my ex-husband and his farm.
I am a vegetarian and have been one since March 1990. I cannot imagine ever eating meat again; however, that is my choice. I do not expect to change anyone who is not willing to change. But I am absolutely outraged – vegetarianism aside – that we, as a nation, would tolerate the cruel treatment of cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, or any other “food chain” animal in such inhumane ways simply because they are designated as non-pets.
It makes me sick to watch the USHS video and think that there are those people out there who have so little respect for a living creature that they would torture it before its death. I know people who do not know and do not care from where their meat products originate. They simply state that it comes from the store in a neatly wrapped package. The store is simply the last step in the chain to your table and stomach.
Fast Food Nation provides a glimpse behind the scenes of slaughtering and “preparing” animals for human consumption.
While I have no illusions as to changing any minds as to their choice of protein sources, I hope that you will watch the two video clips and come away with a sense of our hypocrisy when it comes to treatment of animals – is it a pet or is it not?