Sunday, July 17, 2011

When in Doubt, Blame the Breeding!

Temple Grandin, the famous doctor of animal science at Colorado State University, subject of an HBO movie and one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2010, has been referred to as an "animal welfare advocate."

Perhaps the words "shill," "enabler" and "apologist" are more apt descriptions.

Grandin has been a celebrity for quite some time, having spent years helping to improve conditions in slaughterhouses. One can hear the animal welfare advocate: "That's great. Best to reduce the stress, whenever possible, among animals about to be slaughtered."

In reality, Grandin's methods - adopted by a number of assembly-line mass-murder operations - have simply made the destruction of animals that much easier, and have provided plenty of positive P.R. fodder for big companies such as Swift, McDonald's and Burger King. (Source)

Her most recent foray into the spotlight occurred early in this year's recent Calgary Stampede. On July 8, opening night, a horse involved in the chuckwagon races had to be euthanized after breaking his leg.

Grandin's explanation of the death? Too much selective breeding in the "horse industry." To quote Grandin:

"The thoroughbred industry needs to address the issue of the legs being too weak. The Stampede has done everything they could do to prepare the track, to change the rules so the wagons are not smashing into each another.” (Source)

The Stampede has nothing to answer for, according to Grandin. It has treated its animals "humanely." Just like all of those animals "humanely slaughtered" using her methods.

The truth is, the Stampede has been plagued with problems for years. Last year was especially bad, as the CBC recently noted:

How the chuckwagon races are run, as well as standards for other events at the rodeo, have been greatly overhauled in the last year since six horses died at the Stampede's 2010 edition. Two died of heart attacks, two were destroyed after suffering injuries and another broke its back from bucking too hard. The sixth died after experiencing health difficulties 40 minutes after a chuckwagon race. One change made in the wake of those deaths sees veterinarians implanting a microchip in every horse that is scheduled to compete in the chuckwagon races.

The previous year, 2009, the CBC reported that several animals died in the Calgary Stampede. In fact, if you like at the history of the Stampede, animal deaths have been one of the common recurring features of the event.

A week after Grandin gave the Stampede a clean bill of health, the Stampede fired the driver of the ill-fated chuckwagon and gave him a record fine of $12,500. The driver, Cliff Cunningham, participated in another chuckwagon event - a mere week after the first one ended so badly - that resulted in a collision with another horse. The second horse had to be put to death as well. Cunningham was fired and slapped with a record fine for recklessness.

But it's a mistake to blame the Stampede's flaws on one reckless individual. The real culprit here is the rodeo exhibition itself. These events are, by their very nature, extremely brutal and hard on animals even under the best of circumstances.

Sadly, Temple Grandin will likely continue her role as cheerleader for companies and institutions that harm animals. She'll continue to enjoy a status as a quirky trailblazer and a pioneer that has greatly advanced the cause of animal welfare.

Meantime, thanks to her efforts, more animals will perish - in the slaughterhouse and the rodeo arena - and all the while the public will sleep soundly at night knowing that these institutions have adopted the most cutting edge "humane" practices possible.


  1. You wrote: "Perhaps the words "shill," "enabler" and "apologist" are more apt descriptions."

    If Temple Grandin is a friend to animals, they don't need any enemies. You accurately point out she provides cover for the destruction and misery of millions of innocent lives. I was unaware of her disgusting defense of the tormenting and injuring and killing of animals at the cruel "entertaiment" in Calgary. How repulsive.

    While this woman undoubtedly has many talents and insights is is also irrefutable that she is a facilitator of terror, suffering and death. Shameful.

    Thanks for calling her out, Andrew.

  2. I'm with you, veganelder! Temple Grandin has done some remarkable things, but I wish she'd stop using her remarkable talents to facilitate the mass murder of animals. She has enough time on this earth to turn around and use her brilliance and her humanism (which she shows so clearly in her advocacy for autistic people) to actual defend the sanctity of all life.