Archives for posts with tag: animal welfare

Would you voluntarily commit to having holes drilled into your head, your eyelids sewn shut or chemicals pumped into your stomach (all without the benefit of pain relief)?   I assume not, yet we deem it acceptable to impose that type of suffering upon other creatures who feel pain and fear, all in the name of a “justifiable” end.

Millions of animals are caused unimaginable suffering in experiments that are mostly pointless and sometimes harmful to us.  Laboratories researching the latest cosmetics or government establishments focused upon developing the most state-of-the-art weapons for us to kill one another; organizations, such as March-of-Dimes, that devote millions of dollars to experiments that torture animals and are not essential to humans. . .these are some ways of justifying our capacity for moral degeneracy.

Animals are not biologically similar to humans to justify experimenting upon them for medical reasons; they don’t necessarily respond the same.  No medical model can adequately duplicate human anatomy and physiology.  Animal experimentation is inaccurate, inconclusive and misleading and can be detrimental to humans.  Cancer, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., is still on the rise. Cosmetic and other companies that test their products on animals cannot guarantee that their products would have the same effect upon humans.  Roughly, 92% of drugs that pass preclinical testing on animals have failed in human clinical trials.  Yet, the FDA continues to permit animal testing.  Many people believe that animal experimentation is necessary for the progress of medicine; yet, there is growing concensus among professionals that it is preferable to utilize research methods that do not harm animals.  Equally signficant, they see negative consequences of using one species to provide information about another.  After years of failed experiments and with modern technology affording us excellent non-animal methods of testing and scientific research, some researchers STILL try to justify the senseless torture of animals.  What does this say about our society and its indifference towards cruelty?  It is highly disturbing that anyone can choose to inflict pain, without any sympathy or empathy, while having the means to prevent it.

I recall reading a report about one past laboratory in Port Royal, where scientists nailed dogs’ paws to boards before vivisecting them alive, without the benefit of an anesthetic.

In another New York-based research laboratory, a postdoctoral vivisector placed a rat in a small box, immobilizing his head by a vise.  He then proceeded to drill into his skull as the rat began to struggle. When the rat’s struggling increased, making it difficult to continue drilling, the vivisector stopped to inject him with an anesthetic.  Before it even took effect, he resumed drilling and the rat struggled again until after ten minutes into the vivisection, when the anesthetic took effect.  

At still another laboratory, negligent workers left a monkey in a cage as it went through a cleaning process, resulting in the monkey being scalded to death.  At this same laboratory, twelve monkeys were left in an over-heated room and consequently were cooked to death.

Stephen Lisberger of UCSF is known for his allegedly cruel treatment of monkeys for the past 25 years. He begins by slicing open their eyes so that wire coils can be placed inside.  Screws and bolts are drilled into their skulls, metal plates are inserted under their scalps and electrodes are driven into their brains. His victims are then restrained in chairs for up to eight hours a day.  He has access to non-invasive human scanning technology, but prefers to continue perpetrating his archaic methods on live beings.  If the monkeys don’t perform, they are denied fluids until the next day.  Dr. Lawrence Hansen (UCSD neuroscientist) has stated, “I’ve had many years of experience in neuroscience research, but I have never previously encountered experiments which would deliver quite so much suffering to higher primates for so comparatively little scientific gain.”

One of the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act is to ensure that animals intended for use in research facilities are provided humane care and treatment.  One would assume that pain prevention is part of “humane treatment.”  The AWA also states that it is necessary for “animal care, treatment, and practices in experimental procedures to ensure that animal pain and distress are minimized, including adequate veterinary care with the appropriate use of anesthetic, analgesic, tranquilizing drugs, or euthanasia.”  An exception is provided, however, to the use of anesthesia when scientifically necessary and “that the withholding of tranquilizers. . .or euthanasia when scientifically necessary shall continue for only the necessary period of time.”  Through this “loophole,” many of the procedures that laboratories utilize involve unrelieved pain.  Some of this is attributed to finances, time, lack of compassion, and an overflow of paperwork that workers wish to avoid.  Ironically (and tragically for the animals involved), in the AWA, the research industry succeeds in defining “animal” to exclude mice, rats and birds, who happen to make up 95 percent of all animals used in research. . .just to spare themselves the responsibility of compliance with even minimal standards of care.

Another issue is the fact that several of the top 20 animal experimentation facilities are owned by the Department of Defense.  The AWA does not presently give the USDA authority to inspect facilities owned by other branches of the federal government.  Thus, there is no oversight regarding the use of animals in labs owned by the DOF or any other federal agency.  Many of the most painful experiments are performed within military facilities, and involve the use of chemical and biological weapons.

With social media, networking, and the hard work of animal welfare advocates, information is being brought to the public’s attention about how animals are being treated in experimental facilities.  Many laboratories have been shut down; others have lost funding, been penalized, or have otherwise been held accountable.  But we have a long way to go and the public’s help is needed.

If we are to be the caretakers of the earth and its inhabitants, then we cannot selectively overlook, tolerate or condone abuses upon other creatures.  What is the difference between our beloved companion animals, whom we treat like family, and those who are trying to peacefully exist elsewhere?  Let us not be hypocrites and hold contradictory views towards those with whom we share the earth.  They value their lives and well being just as we value our own and that of our dog, cat or other pet.

Those wishing to look further into this topic can visit the sites of In Defense of Animals, the Anti-Vivisection Society, PCRM, HSUS, PETA and other animal welfare groups who are working towards ending animal experimentation.  Their sites will provide information about their campaigns and offer suggestions as to how you can help in various ways such as spreading the word, learning about alternative non-animal testing methods and sharing that knowledge, boycotting companies that test on animals, not supporting charities that utilize animal experimentation; and letting your university or college know that you will not donate to the alumni fund as long as they engage in animal experimentation. Together, in a unified effort, we can change the world for other species and preserve our humanity.

– Annoula Wylderich


Most of us grew up looking forward to attending the circus, blissfully unaware of the horrors that animals suffer in the entertainment industry.  This area of animal exploitation is not depicted accurately, in most instances.  The realities have been well hidden from the public until animal welfare groups began conducting undercover investigations and sharing their findings. A few examples from investigative reports and video footage reveal the following:

The plight of Stoney, an elephant born in a zoo and subsequently dumped to a circus when he was only 3 years old.  He worked for the next 21 years, until the day he was forced to do a leg stand while warming up at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas.  Stoney pulled a ham-string in his left rear leg, which is a crucial injury to an elephant.  He was unable to walk and in extreme pain.  His trainer and hotel officials placed the screaming elephant into a hotel dumpster, dragged it into a maintenance shed behind the hotel. . .and left him standing in a mechanical device (a “crush”), isolated, for almost a year.  Stoney lived in a buildup of feces and flies, received no fresh produce or other supplements and very little, if any, physical therapy.  Ultimately, following negative publicity and pressure from animal advocates, it was decided to move Stoney to a sanctuary.  As they tried to get him out of the device that had been holding him up, he fell, screaming in agony.  After his year of existing in miserable, lonely conditions, and suffering even more pain during the attempt to move him, he died, trying to reach out to his trainer one last time.

Ricardo, an 8-month-old baby elephant was killed by Ringling after he broke both legs following a fall from a circus pedestal.  His injuries were compounded by the bone disease from which he was suffering (attributed to malnourishment).  Ricardo’s mother was only 7 years old when she was used for breeding, much too young.  During labor, she was chained by three legs to a cold, hard cement floor.  After Ricardo was born, she tried reaching her trunk out to touch him; however, the staff had already pulled him away from her reach.

A young Bengal tiger was shot five times by his angry trainer; a sick baby elephant was forced into the ring repeatedly against veterinary orders, until he died when the show was over; a healthy 2-year-old lion died during transport in a stifling boxcar.

Animal circuses are deadly, miserable places for all the animals forced to spend their lives performing unnatural acts to entertain audiences.  They are kept in cramped, sweltering, poorly ventilated boxcars or trailers during travel; beaten, neglected or killed.  These animals are frightened into submission by the use of whips, sticks, bullhooks (heavy clubs with sharp metal hooks at the tip), and fists.  They are routinely beaten and forced into confusing, frightening and painful stunts.  How often do we see elephants performing headstands in the wild?  Does this sound like wholesome family entertainment?

Baby elephants are torn away from their mothers, tied hammock-style between two trees or posts; or chained to the ground for most of the time (up to 20 hours a day) in order to break them and make them submissive.  They can be heard crying out for their mothers, while being denied the right to play and do what is natural to them.

Ringling and other circuses sometimes try to sneak into town after nightfall, undetected, so as to avoid having anyone witness the abusive treatment of their animals.  They hired a former deputy director of the CIA to disrupt advocacy group efforts to expose their shameful abuse of animals. 

Former employees have confirmed the horrors that the circus has worked hard to hide.  These individuals left because they could no longer tolerate the horrible abuse inflicted upon the animals.  In their signed statements, they describe an incident in which an elephant refused a command; the trainer savagely beat her with a bullhook, hooking her behind the ear, on her back, on the leg. . .and at one point, swinging the club as hard as he could, embedding the sharp point inside the elephant’s ear canal, and pulling on the handle using both hands and all his bodyweight.  The elephant, crying out in agony, was left bleeding profusely from severe wounds.

Many hardworking animal welfare organizations such as In Defense of Animals. PAWS, PETA and The Humane Society of the United States work tirelessly to amass evidence, which is used to open investigations leading to fines, citations, forced compliance of the Animal Welfare Act, and the removal of some animals. Smaller circuses have been forced to shut down.

We can all help by refusing to patronize entertainment venues that are based upon the use of animals.  Additionally, investigations require ongoing funding; instead of paying circuses, consider contributing that money to one of the organizations above.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

By Annoula Wylderich


Powerful factory farming interests, threatened by undercover investigative footage which has gone public, are trying to criminalize this activity; and for good reason.  This industry is wrong on so many levels.

Already passed in Iowa and Utah, a number of other states are trying to pass bills making it a crime for undercover investigators to document animal neglect and abuse on factory farms.  Those who profit from factory farming are attempting to protect animal abusers from public scrutiny by passing these bills.  The implications of these bills are far-reaching and grave not only for the animals who are affected, but for consumers and the general public.

Ag-gag bills would serve to make factory farms sanctuaries for those who torture animals, and provide protection for food safety and environmental violators.  Exposes via hidden-camera videos have brought this industry and it’s cruel, abusive and illegal practices into public scrutiny; and they obviously have much to conceal if they’re trying so hard to prevent further undercover investigations.  Footage shows animals crammed into tiny, filthy enclosures where they cannot even turn around; it shows animals who are beaten, thrown into grinding machines, tortured relentlessly in sadistic ways, mutilated without painkillers, and forced to face unspeakable violence and slaughter.  One can hear them screaming and squealing as they have body parts and skin hacked off with no one to offer them any protection or an ounce of compassion.

This greedy, corrupt industry not only harms animals, it destroys our environment and public health as well.  Factory farms account for land, air and water pollution.  Theyfurther contribute to endangering consumer health by the drugs and chemicals that are administered to farm animals, as well as the filthy conditions in which these animals are raised.  With all the billions of dollars that have gone into cancer research, we must wonder why this deadly disease is on the rise.  I believe there is a direct correlation between our health issues and what we are ingesting.  Our bodies are not meant to process chemicals and there are plenty of cancer-causing carcinogens in the meat, pork, chicken and fish that is consumed daily.  In a previous article, I mentioned that there is invariably a certain amount of poop in every burger.  I wasn’t kidding.

We must ask ourselves why an industry would be working so hard to keep their operations and practices from public view if they had nothing to hide.  Additionally, we need to step up and speak out against any legislation that would serve to take away protection of public health or expose injustices.  Passage of these bills is essentially taking away our right to be informed about wrongdoing that affects our families’ health and the wellbeing of vulnerable animals.

There is a reason factory farming groups don’t want whistleblowers to speak out or show the public what is occurring on farms; it’s a horror movie for the victims (picture Texas Chainsaw Massacre).  There is plenty of footage available for viewing on the websites of Mercy for Animals, PETA, and the Humane Society of the United States, to name a few of the dedicated organizations that work hard to expose the truth about factory farm abuses.

We must not allow Iowa or Utah to set a precedent for other states.  If you’re concerned about the health of your family and that of future generations, as well as the helpless animals who are suffering behind the closed doors of these factory farming torture chambers, please voice your opposition.  These dangerous bills have the potential for imposing egregious effects on every citizen, not just residents of the aforementioned states.

For more information about ag-gag bills, go to:

To view undercover footage, check out:

Finally, don’t support these animal abusers.  Go for a plant-based diet, either by eliminating animal-based products or cutting down your consumption.  You’ll help save the planet, animal lives, and your health.

– Annoula Wylderich

A dog shot, then dragged behind a vehicle; cats and kittens found with their limbs broken; twelve dogs found starving; two dogs tortured and then burned; a kitten cooked to death in an oven; over 800 captive pigs left to starve in the cold on a Pennsylvania factory farm when their owner abandoned the premises, with no one to come to their rescue until it was too late.  If that isn’t enough to make us sit up, I can continue. . .systematic and pointless torture of animals in laboratories; factory farmed animals literally dying piece by piece while going through the processing line, after living in miserable, inhumane conditions since birth; dogs and cats being beaten and butchered alive in S. Korea for their meat; reptiles and other animals being skinned alive for their skins. . .and on it goes.  Somehow this doesn’t seem to be what was intended for humans to perpetuate or condone when we were given stewardship over other creatures.

At one time, we found it perfectly acceptable to burn “witches” at the stake, force human beings into slavery, and withhold the right to vote from women. However, society evolved and changes were enacted to respect human beings and their rights.  Why is it that we cannot seem to extend that same compassion to other species, especially those who have no voice or protection?  Worse, many people will refuse to read or learn about the issues involving neglect and cruelty to animals because it “upsets” them.  If it upsets them, imagine what the animals are going through!  The epitome of ignorance is refusing to learn or hear the truth.  The epitome of callousness is knowing the truth, yet refusing to do something about it.

It is disturbing that people continue to commit the most brutal acts of abuse, neglect, and murder of animals each year by beating, burning, torturing, sexually abusing, impaling, crushing, breaking limbs; or contributing to these actions by way of their consumer choices.  Whether we commit these acts ourselves or pay others to do it, we are complicit.

Research has proven that those who are capable of intentional cruelty are exhibiting the most serious signs of psychological problems that have been linked with sociopathic behavior.  The link between the abuse of animals and human violence has been made time and time again.  

Currently, 47 states have a felony provision in their animal cruelty statutes, thanks to the hard work of various animal welfare groups.  But that’s not enough.  It is up to each of us as citizens of planet Earth to make sure that the laws are enforced, and that knowledge about global animal exploitation issues is shared so as to raise awareness and to work towards a more compassionate society where life is respected.  It’s up to each of us to demand that our government do its job to seek justice for animals where due, to compel truth in advertising from fashion industries who lie about how animal skins are actually obtained or used, and to compel agri-business to keep from hiding the truth from consumers about what is occurring on factory farms and what is actually in animal-derived products (growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, arsenic, dioxins, herbicides. . .and poop).

As my esteemed friend, Professor Tom Regan (author of “The Animal Rights Debate”) so accurately puts it, “In a democracy like ours, the will of the majority (usually) is where the power is.  That’s our challenge: to make animal rights the perspective of the majority. All of us — you and I — will be needed to make this happen.”

On a moral scale, killing/abusing other beings is an act of exploitation and violence; we must ask ourselves if any being deserves to be tortured or killed to satisfy our taste buds, vanity, or need for amusement.  Many good folks, raised in our present culture, simply haven’t given much thought to how society envisions and treats animals.  Fortunately, a shift is occurring that has been bringing this issue to the forefront, compelling many of us to address it and make our personal choices in alignment with what we value.

It is my hope that 2013 begins an era of exponentially increased awareness and positive action on behalf of those who depend upon us to protect them.  We can create a more compassionate society and future generation by our present actions.  What other more significant legacy could we possibly leave behind to speak for our short existence in this life?  

There are many groups doing wonderful work that benefits animals all over the world, from companion animals in your own neighborhood to wildlife on other continents.  These organizations can always use our help and support in order to do their jobs and make them even more effective.  If you can’t afford to offer financial support, your voice or pen are just as important.  We can let these dedicated groups know that we have their backs and are willing to do what we can to further their efforts.  Lives are depending upon us, EACH and EVERY ONE of us.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

Happy and compassionate New Year to all, a little belatedly.

Below are a few links to animal welfare organizations with a great track record.

– Annoula Wylderich



Although the fur and retail industries will deny it, there is no question that articles made from animal skins involve extreme pain and agony for the creatures who had to unwillingly die for consumers’ vanity and retailers’ greed.

Animals killed for their fur suffer untold misery during their capture, confinement and ultimate flaying.  While awaiting their fate, they are cramped into tiny cages and denied the very basics such as adequate shelter from the elements, clean water, food, veterinary care, or the opportunity to engage in natural behavior. Many go insane from the intensive confinement.

In many instances where overcrowded cages are stacked atop one another and are dropped from the transport trucks onto the ground below, many animals suffer shattered and broken bones for which they do not receive any veterinary care.  In preparation of obtaining the skins from animals, especially in overseas operations (China), there is the involvement of stomping, beatings with metal pipes, anal electrocution (frying from the inside out), and slamming their heads onto the concrete.  As each terrified animal awaits their turn at slaughter, they are forced to watch the ones before them have their skin peeled off while still alive and then have their wounded bodies tossed onto a pile to slowly die a painful, agonizing death.

More than half of the finished furs in the U.S. come from China, where millions of dogs and cats are bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, strangled with wire nooses, and skinned alive for their fur.  Approximately 97% of fur trims from China are estimated to be real dog or cat fur, although they are deliberately mislabeled as faux.  A bill was passed to address the issue of deceptive practices; however, additional pressure needs to be placed upon the Chinese fur industry to end their inhumane slaughter methods.

Snakes often have their heads nailed to a tree and then are skinned while alive. Their slow metabolisms cause them to suffer in agony for days before they die. Crocodiles have chisels pounded into the backs of their heads to paralyze them and make it easier to skin them (alive).

Baby seals are clubbed to death in Canada, often at only 2 weeks of age.  Every year, a number of professional fishermen descend to beat hundreds of thousands of these seals to death for their pelts.  To avoid damaging the fur, sealers hook the seals in the eye, cheek, or mouth and drag them across the ice while they are still conscious (in many cases, their panicked mothers watch from a few feet away, helpless to do anything).

The seal slaughter is not a subsistence trade but an example of government waste in support of a dying industry.  Canada spends millions of taxpayer money each year to subsidize the massacre through Coast Guard support, pro-sealing campaigns, and travel.  The U.S. and the European Union have banned seal fur; and world leaders, including President Obama and the Dalai Lama, have denounced the massacre. However, it continues.

Animals globally suffer in the leather and wool trades as well.  They are denied any comforts and are routinely mutilated and tortured, having the skins ripped from their broken and abused bodies.

With so many excellent synthetic materials, consumers can choose a compassionate and equally attractive alternative to real animal skin — and prevent the abject misery that so many helpless animals are subjected to.

Everyone’s voice is needed to help stop the carnage that takes place on fur farms and in the skin trade around the world.  There are many excellent organizations that provide more information (PETA, Peta-Asia, The Humane Society, In Defense of Animals,, International Anti-Fur Coalition, Mercy for Animals) as well as investigative videos in PETA’s archives such as Cold-Blooded Horrors (narrated by Joaquin Phoenix), Chinese Fur Farms, Nightmare on a Chinchilla Farm, and Plucked Alive.  Another informative site is   Although the video footage is upsetting, turning away and ignoring it will not alleviate the suffering for the millions of animals who need our help.  

Fur and exotic skins do not come from any humane methods.  They ALL involve extreme cruelty.  We can ALL make a difference with our buying choices and by lending a voice and getting involved in a campaign.  Often, it only takes a minute to make a difference with the click of a mouse.  But that minute of your time can make a huge difference for another being somewhere in the world.

More links:

 – Annoula Wylderich







More poultry is raised and killed for food than the total of all other farm animals combined; however, there are no federal laws protecting them from abuse. 

Chickens raised in captivity for our food spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy sheds or cages with high levels of ammonia (from waste accumulation) that burn their skin, eyes, and respiratory tracts.   They share these quarters with tens of thousands of other birds, all of whom are given a steady stream of drugs to grow so large so fast that many experience organ failure or become crippled under their own weight.  Chickens and turkeys have the ends of their sensitive beaks cut off with a burning-hot blade, but no anesthesia, to prevent them from injuring one another in their frustrating and overcrowded confinement.   They experience pain for weeks afterwards, making it difficult to eat; many starve to death.  These animals are unable to breathe fresh air, exercise or engage in their basic behaviors which results in severe physical and psychological maladies.  They are routinely subjected to torment by industry workers who have been documented beating, whipping, spray-painting, stomping, sexually abusing, slamming them into walls and urinating on them.  Birds often have their legs and wings broken when they’re shoved into the transport trucks; further, they’re shipped through all weather extremes without food or water.

Undercover investigators have witnessed birds with broken legs and wings and open wounds shackled on the slaughter line.  Others were seen writhing on the floor in agony for hours.  Workers ripped the heads off birds who were trapped inside transport cages.  In 2005, a PETA investigator observed many birds who had been mangled by the throat-cutting machines, yet were still alive when they reached the scalding tanks.  Shackled upside down by their feet, they were systematically immersed into the tanks, where they were either boiled alive or drowned.

Egg-laying hens are typically packed inside cages so tightly that they can’t even spread their wings.  Due to constantly scraping against the wire cages, their feathers are worn away, while their bodies become battered and bloodied.  The cages (typically less than half a square foot of floor space) contribute to asphyxiation or dehydration. 

Decomposing corpses are frequently found in cages with live birds. The birds live this way before being sent to slaughter.  Once at the slaughterhouse, they are roughly pulled from their transport crates and shackled by their feet upside down on a moving rail.  They experience untold suffering as speed is emphasized over humane consideration. 

Male chicks, who are of no value to the egg industry, are typically gassed, suffocated, or ground up alive.  Many dead and dying birds are found in dumpsters behind hatcheries.  Free-range farms, while a small improvement over factory farms, are by no means free of suffering.

In the case of foie gras production, severely movement-restricted ducks are violently handled and force-fed enormous quantities of food daily via a long pipe that is rammed down their throat.  The ducks are haggard, depressed, sick; and many do not even have the strength to raise their heads.  They tremble from fear and illness while they await feeding times.

The giant corporations that profit from factory farming spend millions of dollars trying to convey the image of animals living an idyllic barnyard existence.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Try to get a tour of a slaughterhouse and ask to see ALL the areas.  Go to a factory farm and ask for an impromptu tour.  Don’t make prior appointments for either if you want to see the reality versus a contrived scenario.  Or click on the links below to get an idea of what you would see:

The USDA does a poor job of enforcing regulations.  This is not only detrimental to the animals’ welfare, but to YOURS.  According to a recent study by Consumer Reports, two-thirds of grocery-store chicken meat is contaminated with dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and/or E. coli.  The overuse of antibiotics on farm animals has been linked to this bacteria as well as to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), threatening our ability to treat illness and disease in humans.  This is especially true for the most vulnerable among our society, including the elderly and children.  The FDA has issued a draft guidance document acknowledging this connection between human health and antibiotic use on factory farms; ironically, they’ve made unenforceable recommendations to limit the use of certain drugs.  Do you need to wonder whose side they’re on?  Despite the potentially serious threats to human health, approximately 70 percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are used by the animal agriculture industry.  This use has become necessary to maintain the cruel and unnatural conditions of factory farms; thus, agriculture interests have pushed for relaxed regulations.  Now, the FDA is considering a rule that may make it easier for factory farmers to obtain and use these drugs.  No big surprise here, folks.  Now would not be the time to weaken antibiotic regulations as the many negative effects of factory farming on human health, animal welfare and the environment are becoming undeniable. 

Although hidden from public view, the abject cruelty that occurs on factory farms is being exposed thanks to the excellent work of animal activists and advocacy organizations; and as more and more people are taking a look at how horribly farmed animals are treated and killed, they are deciding that it’s too cruel to support.  Fish aren’t exempt, by the way, and we’ll look at that industry in another post.

– Annoula Wylderich






There are many arguments for and against the use of animals — and whether or not we have dominion over them.  Ultimately, it is an ethical and moral choice that each of us has to make.  However, Jeremy Bentham’s quote that is my subject line sums it up for many of us who believe that all life has value and should be respected and protected. 

There are consequences resulting from various animal abuses that affect our health and environment; so, even those who may not be concerned about the welfare of sentient beings are ultimately affected by their mistreatment.

We can choose to live in denial so as to justify our actions or avoid having to make changes; we can look the other way and pretend the exploitation and cruelty do not exist, because the images and knowledge upset us.  However, while we are averting our eyes or refusing to listen, billions of innocent, feeling beings are literally suffering to death every single day.  Animal exploitation has a massive negative impact on society, if not our very souls.

Factory farming greatly contributes to the destruction/depletion of the earth’s resources, harms the environment, reduces the potential to feed millions who live in poverty, impacts global warming (the results of which we have observed or experienced in recent years via the climatic catastrophes), imposes massive suffering upon innocent animals, and poses a huge threat to our own health and lives.

Animal experimentation is another controversial issue.  There is countless research disproving the efficacy of using animals, as they do not respond the same as humans. . .even though they feel the same sensations, including fear at the hands of researchers.  Imagine yourself being tested upon by a doctor who does not care about your comfort or pain level and whom you cannot communicate with because you can’t speak.  That is horrifying in itself, but let’s take it a step further.  That same doctor does not value your life, either.  Wow, my heart just froze at the thought.  With so many better and more accurate methods of testing that are available today, we no longer need the archaic and barbaric use of live subjects.

The fashion industry is a great example of how we have allowed vanity to trump compassion.  Animals have their skins torn from their bodies, often while they are still conscious. Snakes have their heads nailed to a tree, while their skin is peeled off.  Due to their slow metabolism, they can languish for several days in sheer agony before death gives them their final welcome release.  Animals on fur farms are subjected to anal electrocution (basically being fried from the inside out), or have their necks snapped, or are beaten.  Many of these hapless beings awake during skinning.  In China, one of the biggest manufacturers of “faux fur” products, they don’t even take the time to attempt to stun the animals, as there are no animal welfare laws protecting them.  Here, raccoon dogs are routinely beaten and then skinned while still alive in order to produce trinkets, dog toys and fur trim that is illegally labeled as “faux.”  I once watched a video of a raccoon dog after it had been skinned.  He was bloody, dazed, and still alive for several minutes after the skinning.  He lifted his head agonizingly, turning to look back upon his body in obvious shock and pain; and then, looked directly into the camera before finally expiring.  His eyes asked “why?”

Alligators and crocodiles don’t get a break.  They have tough hides; therefore, it takes a little more effort.  I’ve seen videos of men taking sharp knives and chisels to the back of their heads in order to paralyze or stun them so they can remove the skin.  If you are shocked and disgusted at this point, then perhaps you will think twice before making that next purchase of snakeskin boots, crocodile handbag or alligator pumps.

The entertainment industry is notorious for employing fear and pain in their training of animals.  Think about it.  A wild animal is not about to jump through a ring of fire just because you politely asked it to – or offered it a treat.  Research has led to case after case of trainers and owners who have been prosecuted for animal cruelty.  I’ve read of people who have beaten chimpanzees to an inch of their lives, denied tigers water in triple digit desert temperatures, sewn shut the mouth of snake with needle and thread, forced animals into tiny enclosures where they cannot even turn around, tied animals down for up to 20 hours a day. . .and the list of injustices goes on.  Patronizing circuses, zoos, marine exhibits such as Sea World, and other venues where animals are exhibited in a confined habitat that is not their natural world helps perpetuate this exploitation.

In the wonderful world of pets, supporting pet shops is supporting the underworld of puppy mills and other suppliers of animals that are mistreated.  Shoppers don’t often get to see this world until it is exposed in some form of cruelty case that has made it to the news.  Animals are treated like commodities.  Sick and injured birds and small creatures are routinely ignored and thrown away (while still alive and barely hanging on), since the bottom line is the dollar and paying a vet costs more than simply producing more animals.  Most of us know about the hellish conditions at many puppy mills, thanks to the media.

Society has shown increasing evidence of  desensitization towards others.  FBI data suggests that those who commit crimes against animals have a propensity to go on to commit crimes against people and property.  If we have children, nieces and nephews, or grandkids, then I believe we ought to be greatly concerned about what kind of world we are leaving behind for them.  It is our responsibility to teach the younger generation about their connection to other beings, both human and non.  It’s directly upon each of us to practice compassion for others and to promote responsibility for the voiceless – the animals who need protection and to be kept free from harm at the hands of humans.

One does not need to become an activist or animal advocate in order to help animals in need.  We just need to incorporate a philosophy of compassion into our daily lives.  We need to be more aware and alert to animal cruelty around us – and to do our part to report it, whether it be a dog chained to a tree all day, every day; or knowing about a pet or other animal that is the victim of cruelty.  Joining some of the great national animal welfare organizations, such as HSUS, PETA, In Defense of Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Mercy for Animals, or Born Free USA allows us to receive action alerts and petitions about campaigns.  Foregoing a couple of beers or lattes a month and instead donating that money to one of these organizations or a local (reputable) animal organization is another great way to do our part.  Of course, donating a couple hours of our time to walk the dogs at the local shelter is an invaluable way of helping make life better for animals.

My blog offers information not only about the various issues and campaigns occurring globally, but also includes links to websites that provide detailed information and an opportunity to do something for those who feel compelled to take action, whether by contacting legislators and companies, signing petitions, making a contribution or volunteering their time.

At the end of the day, how we treat animals reveals who we really are.

– Annoula Wylderich