Animal Cruelty for Profits is More Pervasive Than Imagined

Profits Trump Humane Treatment of Animals.

Animal Cruelty for Profits is More Pervasive Than Imagined

“The Greatness of a nation, and its moral progress, can be judged by the manner in which its animals are treated.”  Mahatma Gandhi.

Above is my wife’s favorite quote, and definitely one of mine.

Anyone who has had the misfortune to see how animals are treated on corporate farms, would never eat meat of any type again.  As the disparity between incomes has widened, profits have trumped morality.  (See 2010 U.S. Census results.)  An attitude of indifference exists among those who have higher incomes towards the poor and impoverished, and it extends to the treatment of animals.

Animal rights groups are pressing for legislation throughout the nation to force tougher laws and penalties which will result in more humane treatment of both farm and domestic animals.

An example of the measures these groups are proposing exists in New Jersey.

“There is a need to elevate the seriousness with which courts address animal cruelty offenses because offenders too often receive minimal or no fines for offenses that are many times treated as civil violations and not criminal offenses,” said Neslon Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “We’ve evolved a great deal as a society over the last century and our laws pertaining to the treatment of all living things should reflect that.”

Part of the bill follows:

Sponsored by Albano, “this bill revises the penalties for animal cruelty by establishing the criminal offense of animal neglect (purposely, knowingly or recklessly failing to provide minimum care to an animal) as a disorderly persons offense, the criminal offense of aggravated neglect (purposely, knowingly or recklessly fails to provide minimum care to an animal and the animal dies) as a crime of the fourth degree, and extreme animal neglect (purposely, knowingly, or recklessly failing to provide minimum care to an animal for a period of time that results in a significant negative impact on the health and well-being of the animal) as a crime of the third degree.”

The entire bill has provisions for fines and penalties for the neglect and abandonment of domestic animals as well.

Animals should not feel hunger or fear.  We make every effort to ensure our children are protected from these feelings, both domestic and farm animals deserve the same consideration.

Legal efforts can assist in the protection of these two categories.  Animals who still live in the wild also deserve humane treatment.

“It was a productive day for Gary Strader when he pulled his vehicle up to a remote site in northeast Nevada and found nine coyotes caught in leg hold snares set by the federal government. As was routine, Strader, a former trapper with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, signaled his dogs to attack.”

His supervisor, who had accompanied him that day, watched and laughed as the dogs circled the coyotes and ripped into them, Strader recalled.

“That was regular practice,” said Strader, who in 2009 left Wildlife Services, a little-known program within the USDA. The program is tasked with humanely killing wildlife seen as a threat to the environment and livestock, as well as protecting the public from wildlife hazards to commercial planes at airports.

“You let your dogs fight with them. That was part of the job,” said Strader. “There’s not a person in Wildlife Services who is not aware of it.”

Wildlife Services, a federal agency, is funded by your tax dollars.  Here in Northern Nevada, a war is being waged between groups who want to protect our wild horse population, and those who want to hunt them down and make dog food from their carcasses.  Wildlife services have used helicopters to heard them into areas where agents force them into pens with cattle prods.

Nevada Is the 5th largest state in the nation, geographically.  There are ranches in the northern part of the state that are far enough apart that it requires hours of travel by a four wheel drive vehicle to go from one to another.  We have mountain goats, mountain lions, deer, antelope, and wild birds of many varieties.  And we should cherish our wild horses.

“This agency has become an outlet for people to abuse animals for no particular reason,” Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., told

“It is completely out of control,” he said. “They need to be brought into the 21st century.”

Campbell and Rep. Peter Defazio, D-Ore., penned a letter last November to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack calling for a complete audit of the “culture” within Wildlife Services – in particular its lethal Predator Control program – by the USDA Office of Inspector General.

“USDA does not condone any form of animal cruelty and holds all employees responsible for adhering to Departmental and Agency standards and directives,” Vilsack wrote. “WS personnel are expected to use approved and humane methods to euthanize captured or restrained animals whenever practicable, and in accordance with American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.”

But the lawmakers say several serious questions remain unanswered.

“I don’t understand why it should be the responsibility of the federal government to attempt to – very ineffectively and, in fact, probably detrimentally – remove wildlife that has not been implicated in attacks on people and cattle,” said Defazio, who for two decades has championed the defunding of Wildlife Services.

Some Wildlife Service personnel defend their actions sighting requests by ranchers and farmers whose livestock and “row” crops are often endangered by wild animals.

Groups wishing to ensure humane removal or extermination in these instances understand the necessity of their actions, but insist it be done in a reasonably humane fashion.

James Turnage

Columnist-The Guardian Express