Monday, August 9, 2010

Tragedy at the California State Fair in Sacramento

In late July, an incident occurred at the California State Fair in Sacramento that sparked public outrage. A pregnant cow who was supposed to give birth at the fair escaped from a birthing stall and charged through the midway. It was beautiful a Tuesday morning, July 27, and the fair had not yet opened for the day when she got free. The place was still relatively quiet as fair grounds staff were setting up concession booths for the day. The cow charged across the fairgrounds with authorities in hot pursuit. There were several conflicting accounts of the event (go to YouTube and search under "cow shot at California State Fair" to see the many televised news reports). According to some reports, the police and fair authorities tried to tranquilize the cow, but they said the tranquilizers would take a half hour to kick in. Another report said the tranquilizer gun wasn't working.

After pursuing the cow, the police eventually cornered her and opened fire, killing the 1200 pound animal and the baby she was carrying. It is clear from the video above that the cow was terrified and agitated. She was being pursued by a truck blaring some sort of loud horn or noise. I wasn't there, so it's impossible for me to offer an impartial verdict on this matter. At the same time, one wonders why it was necessary to gun down a frightened pregnant cow.

The local television outlets insisted the cow was "angry" and a local TV correspondent referred to her as "ornery" in one television report. (Source)

One can spend weeks nitpicking over the tiny details of this incident. But getting trapped in that game avoids the larger picture. And the larger picture is this: Human beings have no right to keep exploiting animals and treating them like slaves. This tragedy could have been avoided. Not by tightening security. Not by introducing better birthing stalls for cows. Not by doing this or that differently. It could have been avoided by adopting a radically different view of human-animal relations that eliminates the exploitation of non-human creatures by people. Animals aren't ours to exhibit, poke, prod, or kill. They're living beings with feelings. And this cow obviously felt fear and anxiety in the terrifying final moments of her life.

Thank goodness our comrades in the struggle for the decent treatment of animals were out in full force protesting this sad event. I've posted their pictures here (courtesy of Sacramento's ABC News 10). Even in the aftermath of a tragedy like this, good people can be counted on to raise their voices against injustice and violence.

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