How Many Should We Kill?

 | June 2, 2009 6:00 AM

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to MercyIt began with one pig at a British slaughterhouse.  Somewhere along the production line it was observed that the animal had blisters in his mouth and was salivating. The worst suspicions were confirmed, and within days borders had been sealed and a course of action determined. Soon all of England and the world watched as hundreds, and then hundreds of thousands of pigs, cows, sheep and their newborn lambs were taken outdoors, shot, thrown into burning pyres, and bulldozed into muddy graves. Reports described terrified cattle being chased by sharpshooters, clambering over one another to escape.  Some were still stirring and blinking a day after being shot.  The plague meanwhile slipped into mainland Europe, where the same ritual followed until, when it was all over, more than ten million animals had been disposed of.  Completing the story with the requisite happy ending was a calf heard calling from underneath the body of her mother in a mound of carcasses to be set aflame.  Christened “Phoenix” … the calf was spared.

Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy , p. ix.

Ten million animals killed.  And it was completely needless.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a form of flu, treatable by proper veterinary care, preventable by vaccination, lethal neither to humans nor animals.  These animals, millions of them not even infected, were all killed only because their market value had been diminished and because trade policies required it – because, in short, under the circumstances it was the quick and convenient thing to do.

Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy pp. ix-x.

As they say history repeats.  In April and May 2009, Egypt slaughtered all of its pigs, about 300,000, because of their fear of the H1N1 flu despite the fact that not a single case had been reported.  The World Health Organization said there was no scientific basis and that “it is entirely unnecessary because the illness is being spread through humans.”

A leading animal rights group criticized Egypt on Monday for using “shocking and cruel” methods to slaughter the country’s pigs over swine flu fears, responding to a YouTube video that showed men skewering squealing piglets with large kitchen knives and hitting others with crowbars.

Egypt criticized for ‘inhumane’ killing of pigs

(I looked on YouTube myself but was unable to find the mentioned video.  I found an AFP news account about the world outrage and the video it cited about the cruel slaughter.)

And finally, as is typically the case with any animal and/or environmental abuse, there is a human cost.  In this case it is the loss of most of their income for the tens of thousands of Coptic Christians.

In both of these cases there was world wide outrage.  But what’s both sad and hypocritical is that this kind of cruelty happens everyday in our factory farms where we get the meat that we eat everyday, in our scientific laboratories, in our oceans, zoos, parks, etc.

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