Monday, 20 May 2019

A CULTURE OF ANIMAL CRUELTY



Sad Dog
Image: Petfinder
Have you seen where dog meat is prepared? It is the epitome of cruelty and wickedness.

The dog is tied in a sack and kept in a circle of men wielding sticks. Once they are sure that the dog cannot escape its confinements, these men begin to beat the dog until it dies.

I witnessed this one day and nearly threw up from the sheer cruelty of it all. The cries of the dog were enough to break me, but these men were unperturbed. They kept striking, drawing rivulets of blood that seeped out of the sack as the screams of the dog became weaker until all was eerily quiet.

In all honestly, I didn’t watch till the end. I couldn’t. Those cries tormented me.

But I couldn’t leave. I was out with a friend who ate dog meat and he wanted his ‘delicacy’. Before then, I had been repulsed by the fact that people ate dog meat; and I told him as much. When I got to see how dogs were killed before they were prepared, I felt even worse revulsion. How could people do something so disgustingly cruel to animals?

People who don’t eat dog meat may say that they are not part of the abuse. And they would be right. But…many of us abuse animals in one way or the other. Even me! So…I also began to think of the other ways that we abuse animals. 

Let me give an example.

Roasted catfish is one of my favorite delicacies. I make it a point of duty to get some at least once a month. One day, I decided to get the raw fish and prepare myself. When I got to the market, it was to see that they kept the fish in just enough water to stay alive. And because there were many fish in the tub, you could tell that they were struggling to be alive. Suffocating would be the most appropriate term. I didn’t think too much about it for a minute until the fish I selected was taken out of the water and a big stick was used to hit its head. I was appalled! Was that how catfish was killed?! Was it the same with the fish joints where I bought mine?

I felt bad.

I shouldn’t even get started with the way we treat cows; but I will. You should see how they are transported across States lines. Necks bent at awkward angles, legs tied under their bodies in positions that must be uncomfortable, and even cases where other animals and food are piled atop them are usually common place. Then imagine all those distances they have to walk because their herders prefer the nomadic style of cattle rearing instead of the ranch method. And by God, we still insist on killing these animals by slitting their throats and letting them bleed out. In fact, Christianity and Islam instruct the slaughtering of animals as the way to kill them. Proponents of these religions believe that the most humane way to kill an animal is to slaughter them. The Bible (Deuteronomy 12: 21-24) and the Dhabihah in the Islamic Tradition place emphasis on slaughtering the animal and letting the blood of the animal drain to the ground. There are more requirements in Islam that must be met but for the most part, these religions agree that slaughtering is the ‘best’ way to kill animals.

But…is this true?

There are many schools of thought about this. Research has shown that many animals – like chickens for examples – die as much 2.5 minutes after being slaughtered. That is a lot of pain for an animal to deal with, no matter how stupid chickens are supposed to be. And quite frankly, unfair to the animal. Personally, I think animals should be stunned before they are killed. I think that is the most humane way to kill them. But I understand the draw of religion and why it is important to do as a deity demands.

The bigger question is whether we should even eat meat knowing how animals have to die. I am not going to lie…I love meat. It is an important of all my meals. I enjoy the feel it brings to any meal it is in. In fact, I consider meat or fish the reward for eating a meal. This is why I believe that when animals are killed as humanely possible, it is fine to eat. It is also why, in addition to my other reasons, I will eat not dog meat. I have an aversion to swine so that isn’t even up for debate but fish…how do I handle my dilemma with their inhumane killings and my unending appetite for them? I think that is the big question for me, and my role in this mess.

Thankfully, in this part of the world, we do not kill animals for sport – even though we let people come here to do so – and cases of animal fighting for gambling purposes are few and in between. But there are way too many ways that animals are treated poorly in our communities. Not only are they fed poorly or starved, they are also caged, flogged, and even poisoned. I once saw a video of a guy who caught a rat and tied it spread-eagled to a bottle. Then the guy stuck a burning cigarette in the mouth of the rat such that whenever it tried to breathe, it inhaled huge gulps of smoke. The guy laughed hysterically, as did the thousands of people who liked and retweeted his video. I was appalled that people didn’t see it for what it was; a culture of animal cruelty. And it is a culture alright!

And speaking of poisoning, this is where I am part of the problem. Apologies please.

I genuinely hate rats. I think after snakes, they are the most horrible animals. They are able to creep into just about any place and feed on your food, clothes, papers, body and whatever else they can. Plus, they carry the Lassa virus; Mastomys rats anyway. And when I so much as see their feces in my house, I get the traps and poison and whatever else I can use to ensure that I kill them. Are there more humane ways to get rid of rats? I am not sure…and quite frankly, I don’t care. I just don’t want them around me. This is not to say that I was happy at that video. But it shows I am part of the problem.  

So I guess my question is, how can we treat animals better? Maybe this is where religion can come into play.  Proverbs 12:10 says that a righteous man regards his animals. The Dhabihah gives a clear, concise way to treat animals and it requires a respect for the life of that animal. I am hoping that the adherents of these religions follow through on these admonitions. For those who practice other religions, and I must admit that I don’t know how they treat animals beyond what I see on fictional movies, and those who are non-religious people, just be humane in all you do.

Animal cruelty is wrong.

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