Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So Far, 2011 is Not Getting Off to a Promising Start...

For those of us who support animals and animal rights, 2011 has not gotten off to a very promising start.

First, there have been the numerous mystery animal deaths, which have defied any explanation. "Dead Birds Fall From the Sky in Italy," said a headline in the Huffington Post. The Discovery News website (affiliated with the Discovery Channel) echoed the Huffington Post: "'Aflockalypse' Hits California." Animals have been falling over dead or washing up on shores in huge numbers in Chicago and Arkansas, in Louisiana and Sweden, in England and Brazil.

Nobody really knows why it's happening. Some scientists have talked about changing magnetic fields. Others emphasize global warming. Toxins have been blamed in certain circles. And the born-again Christian actor Kirk Cameron insists that these mass deaths are the fault of "pagan mythology." (Source)

To make matters worse, the treatment of factory farm animals around the world continues to be deplorable. Just before Christmas, 1,000 pigs were burned alive in a fire in Rostock, Ontario. (Source) In Quebec this past weekend, 20,000 rabbits and 4,000 piglets perished in two separate factory farm fires. (Source) In Germany, large numbers of pigs and chickens were recently given contaminated feed that contained, among other things, dioxin. (Source) Across Europe, countless pigs and chickens have been slaughtered.

But the worst slaughter is going on in South Korea, where an astonishing one million pigs have been buried alive due to an epidemic of Foot-and-Mouth Disease that broke out in November. To quote one report from South Korea (Source):

The South Korean government has so far refused to vaccinate pigs against the disease and is now slaughtering them in record numbers despite appeals to stop. On January 4 in one area of Gangwon-Do, 33,900 pigs alone were destroyed, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

It turns out that Foot-and-Mouth Disease does not infect human beings, even if they eat the meat of animals infected by the disease. The situation in South Korea has been nothing short of catastrophic, as the Straits Times reports:
Nationwide, more than 1.3 million pigs, cattle and other cloven-hoofed animals have been slaughtered or will soon be culled, the agriculture ministry said, as the outbreak showed no sign of abating.

The situation has been so horrific in South Korea that the government is providing therapy for workers who have been traumatized from having to slaughter so many poor, innocent animals. "We've heard reports of people suffering from insomnia, fearfulness, hallucinating sounds and a lack of appetite." (Source)

The horrors occurring in South Korea are unquestionably the most insane example of what happens when we turn animals - sentient beings with thoughts, feelings and emotions - into commodities, whose value is to be measured in profit and loss columns.

Those of us who love animals have a mission in 2011. Our goal is to fight for them. And I don't mean fight for "reforms" and "tinkering" - such as cameras in slaughterhouses or regulations that reduce animal pain in factory farms, or stricter laws that govern fur production. I mean we need to advocate for the total and immediate liberation of all animals, based on the fact that they are not ours to exploit, bury alive, place inside of highly flammable and unsafe factory farms, or murder for their meat or other parts.

Let 2011 be the year that animal liberation becomes a more mainstream goal. We may not be able to control the mystery animal deaths, but we can guarantee that animals are no longer exploited and slaughtered. Animals are not ours to use in any way. This is the message of a truly civilized society.

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