The “mother goat and her kid” passage from the Bible leads inexorably to an examination of modern slaughterhouse methods. Oh, how I do not wish to go here. How I wish to remain ignorant. This examination will be cursory, to preserve my own and your sanity. What little I have learned is enough.
Modern slaughterhouse methods, at least in the U.S., require for hygienic purposes that the animal be shackled and hoisted while still alive. The animal may be unconscious, although the process of rendering a living animal unconscious is itself horrific, difficult to administer properly, and too often ineffective. If the slaughter is to comport with Jewish or Islamic religious requirements, the animal must be conscious when killed. This is to be certain that the animal is not diseased or otherwise unfit.
Ritual slaughter in ancient days was ostensibly designed for a quick death to minimize suffering and demonstrate respect and compassion for the animal. The combination of hygienic and religious laws today has the opposite effect.
Although certain practices are said to have improved in recent years, these practices vary widely between slaughterhouses. Workers themselves are subjected to brutal and dangerous conditions, requiring them to kill hundreds of animals a day, leaving little time to take care that minimal standards of animal welfare are met.
In sum, the terror, pain, and suffering our slaughterhouse practices inflict on the animal are, or should be, beyond belief. The soul shrivels with horror. How can we be part of this in any way?
I am beginning to realize that our cruelty to wolves is but part of a larger cruelty to animals everywhere. Slaughterhouses; puppy mills; pitiless hunting techniques that include trapping, poisoning, trip-wire snaring at the throat, calling with sounds of pups in distress, aerial gunning; the public and private abuse of domestic and captive wild animals – all unregulated, uncontrolled, existing only by virtue of the power we hold over the defenseless and our sense of entitlement. I have come to believe that sustained cruelty on a massive scale, whether to humans or animals, is founded in large part upon inertia, ignorance, and entitlement – the systemic evil of our human condition.*
What can be done? Here are only a few ideas. Please add your own.
We can choose not to eat meat.
If we do eat meat, we can insist on knowing where it comes from, the conditions under which it was raised, and the circumstances of its slaughter.
We can refuse to purchase a puppy from a mill.
We can speak out for the voiceless, in whatever format and in whatever way moves our heart and suits our capabilities.
We can open our eyes and refuse to turn away.
Paralyzed with fear prodded and jolted stench searing the brain the fruits of cruelty stagger to our table.
THE 3 QUESTIONS
What is on my table? How did it get here? Do I want to know?