Equines are instrumental in so many aspects of our current lives
and were just as important in the lives of our ancestors. Previous generations sacrificed much in order for us to enjoy the freedom and liberties we have today. They would be as shocked as we are to see how farm animals suffer
, maybe more so. According to the USDA, over 10 billion land animals
are killed for food in the United States alone. It is difficult to pinpoint a time when we considered them “companion” animals instead of their current classification as “commodities.” This designation of “livestock,” “property,” or “recreational” has put farm animals and others in harm’s way for far too long.
Designation of farmed animals at the National, Federal, and local levels of government prevent these animals from receiving humane treatment and that is wrong. These classifications were designed to prevent farmed animals the guaranteed protections that our companion animals currently enjoy. These classifications were put into place so that their exploitations for monetary gain could continue without pressure or interference from regulatory agencies. Their lives will never include protections against abuse until it is demanded by all of us. Until we speak up and out and demand justice for their continued health and well-being, they will continue in a never-ending cycle of abuse and cruelty at the hands of man.
Because most of these animals are listed as food animals, which also includes our equines, those guilty of abusive practices in slaughter plants and the transport industry
are often walking free from their terrible crimes. (An exception should be equines due to the inability of the USDA to inspect their flesh. Today, they are not considered food animals in the USA although they are still transported for slaughter for human consumption.)
There are no few enforceable protections in place when cruelty or abuse occurs to docile, innocent farm animals. Most slaughter plants are now “self-regulating” with fewer USDA govt. inspectors
in place. These types of crimes under “The Humane Slaughter Act
” of 1958 go unchecked the majority of the time. If there are any prosecutions or convictions under this Act for those crimes, I have not found them.
Current animal abuse laws that protect companion animals such as cats and dogs do not apply to farmed animals
. When crimes against “livestock” do occur, they are often not pursued as a criminal offense because of the “property” status classification. This negates the court’s ability to act in a manner that we have all come to expect when cruelty is involved. It’s as if our current system cannot see that farm animals have the ability to feel and experience pain and, therefore, do not warrant protection from inhumane treatment.
Most offenders end up with light sentences or monetary penalties, most of which are not enforced. As advocates, we find this incomprehensible and we cannot understand how our criminal justice system fails on stopping this blatant type of animal abuse. Current laws now in place allow these animals to fall through the cracks — equines especially. Equine exploitation happens in so many different ways it is sometimes difficult to determine which laws to implement and which regulations those crimes should fall under. Although it is more often than not clear that inhumane treatment and neglect should be pursued, the cases are often convoluted because of classifications and even the alleged purpose behind the animal’s existence (e.g., companion animal, work animal, rescue, slaughter-bound).
Now imagine if equine slaughter should resume in the US once again? If the USDA were allowed to inspect horse meat in September of 2015
, who would oversee the slaughter process to ensure that cruelty and abuse will not occur? If there is a lack of inspectors
now, who would bring these crimes to bear? The clear answer is no one.
Equine Exploitation: Examples Without Consequences
is considered a sport, donkey basketball
in schools is an acceptable form of abuse, teens do not see that riding such a sensitive animal like a donkey is any different from a ride at an amusement park; Rodeo is also an accepted form of entertainment by our culture. This includes cattle prods
into the anus of a horse or bull in order to make them angrier in order to get a better performance for the crowd; cancer causing drugs
routinely given to race horses which cause their bodies to “break down” at young ages
to either die or ship to slaughter; cruel nail padding
placed on hooves in order to make that animal walk an over-exaggerated gait called the “Big Lick”; wild horses and burros rounded up and given dangerous, untested pesticides
in the form of infertility drugs that disrupt their quality of life, or worse, shipped to slaughter; equines crammed in trucks too small to accommodate their size, shipped without food and water upwards of 34+ hours
en route (which also includes pigs, cows, and sheep); horses forced to stand day and night to collect urine which creates dangerous drugs
for the pharmaceutical industry, in a continual state of pregnancy, with their foals (babies) shipping to slaughter; mares ripped from their new infant foal
to accommodate feeding a more expensive foal, with the new foal shipping to slaughter to use their flesh as a fashion accessories in the form of a purse or gloves
; roundups with helicopters and contractors paid obscene amounts of money
, using our tax dollars, pushing wild animals into corrals in which they break legs, necks or die
. When they become incapacitated they shoot them on the spot with the government’s full and complete acknowledgment and approval. American horses transported out of the country to Japan in live animal exports
in order to feed other countries including Russia
and shipped out of Texas illegally. Wild Horses and Burros shipped to slaughter
, even though they are protected under law! The top 1% receiving taxpayers subsidies
and responsible for the removal of wild horses.
This suffering is inexcusable. Deaths at slaughter plants
, commercial factories, and large-scale industrial farms are
avoidable. The weakest among us are not considered in a favorable light and are not afforded the most basic protections that we should expect in the 21st Century.
More times than not, perpetrators of animal welfare crimes receive light sentences or are simply fined — even these minimal actions are rarely enforced. Even when courts are presented with solid evidence clearly detailing cruel and abusive criminal acts, violators will walk free with only minor infractions. Due to this lack of enforcement, there is simply no protection in place when cruelty or abuse occurs to farm animals. In some instances, such as with transport, the courts’ hands are tied altogether – the USDA regulates transport violations.
And the sad reality is this. Animal abuse and cruelty, whether it is a farmed animal or a domestic pet leads to further abuse and/or violent acts.
This excerpt taken from the Sentencing Memorandum
for Jackie McConnell regarding his criminal case for horse soring states it perfectly;
“Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), animal abusers are five (5) times more likely to commit violent crimes against people and four (4) times more likely to commit property crimes than are individuals without a history of animal abuse. The FBI has recognized the connection between a history of animal abuse and the commission of violent crimes since the 1970s. Other research has demonstrated consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of more common forms of violence. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty to be one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorders. “Abusing an animal is a way for a human to find power/joy/fulfillment through the torture of a victim they know cannot defend itself.” ” Page 14.
The USDA is notorious for lack of enforcement
: cases go years with no resolution and fines are often never collected. In an Animals’ Angels investigation, documentation was uncovered proving that the USDA had 100’s of cases with a multitude of violations within each of those 100’s of cases involving the transport of horses for slaughter to the Cavel slaughter plant in Illinois from 2004 to 2007. Rather than shut the transport companies or violators down. According to the report, the USDA did not shut them down. Instead, simple fines were imposed but only in some cases. Most offenders received nothing but a warning letter. And in those cases where fines were imposed, it took years just to get a hearing and a judgment!
We cannot comprehend how our criminal justice system and those tasked with upholding animal welfare laws could fail these beings by allowing classifications to prevent justice from prevailing. The laws that currently govern how these animals are to be treated continue to allow them to die violent, avoidable deaths. A dear friend once stated to me that “When an animal dies such a violent, cruel death, that fear is infused into their flesh and we are eating those molecules.” It is no wonder our population suffers from chronic illnesses.
The sentences are laughable and we see these monsters walk out of the courtroom completely exonerated or with a slap on the wrist. Advocates are shocked to the core at these light sentences. It is difficult to understand how our criminal justice system can continually fail these innocent beings. The current system inherently allows the animals to fall through the cracks.
Because animals are given the label of “property,” and are treated as such, they are considered as inanimate “things” that have no feelings or rights of protection. When such labeling is assigned to animals, our legal system and the enforcement agencies in place to protect them cannot prosecute under cruelty laws but instead must follow property laws.
Why is it that we advocate’s can clearly see that this is where our judicial system fails our animals but the legislators cannot? How is that we can clearly see the evidence at hand that unequivocally shows clear signs of abuse or cruelty, but our lawmakers cannot?
Sadly, with case after case, we see the utter and complete failure of our judicial system, government agencies in protecting animals that cannot protect themselves from cruel, criminal humans. And yet, we cannot lay full blame on the Judges or the court system as a whole. Our judicial system is unable to serve harsher penalties for such crimes due to these inane classifications and because of the courts’ limited ability to pass judgments that would prevent future abuse, these abusers never receive the maximum sentence under the rule of law. It is the legislators who are at fault for not defining more clearly that animals are living, sentient beings who deserve humane treatment in all facets of their lives and their death.
By now you are in full agreement with me and asking what is it that you can do to change it. There are many things you can do as an individual and most certainly as a cohesive group. Start donating to groups such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Mercy for Animals, and Animals’ Angels
so their evidence can be presented in courts and to lawmakers around the country to show why our justice system should work for all animals, not just a few.
The more evidence these groups can show to the courts and legislators that mandatory protections need to be in place to protect these sweet animals from cruelties perpetrated on them through no fault of their own, the sooner we can protect the generations to come from such horrors.
Start with your local and state laws. In a wonderful book by Julie E. Lewin called “Get Political for Animals and Win the Laws They Need
” gives you a comprehensive manual that will show you how to fight to win to change any and all laws that are not working. These laws are in dire need of change and with a concentrated effort by us all, we can implement strategies that will win a voice for all animals. It is an easy to understand, step-by-step manual that will teach you and others how to approach your local government, officials and representatives in Congress in order to create new laws that stand up for our any animal, including our farmed animals and equines.
There are so many advocates that are clearly very vocal and speak out for animals when given the chance either in articles, forums or comments. Now you will finally have the power to change those thoughts and expressions of intention into powerful concrete actions which will give us all the ability to put in place meaningful protections that will speak for those that cannot.
Let’s finally change their world for the better in order that our children and grandchildren are not forced to see the images or hear the horror stories we are subjected to daily.