On September 17th, about 1,500 people traveled to upstate New York to attend Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s (CAS) annual “shindig,” a day long celebration with rescued animals, live bands, cooking demonstrations, vegan food vendors, speakers and hayrides.
According to Kathy Stevens, the founder of CAS, sanctuaries enable visitors who aren’t already vegan to “connect the dots between their lifestyle choices and the suffering of these beautiful animals.” She asserts that people must “understand that our choice to eat animals condemns countless beings to an unthinkable level of torture, fear and terror.”
Attendees bond with farm animals at Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s 15th Anniversary Shindig
By inviting many vegan food vendors to the shindig, Stevens demonstrates that adopting a diet free of animals is hardly a sacrifice, given how delicious vegan food in 2016. And while not all vegan food is health food, a plant-based diet, Stevens asserts, is better for our health and for the planet, as animal agriculture “is the primary cause of the global devastation we’re experiencing.”
At least a dozen vegan food vendors lined the roads within the sanctuary.
Harrowing footage of Australian cattle being slaughtered in Vietnam has shined a global spotlight on Australia’s notorious “live export” trade. The footage, released by Animals Australia, shows restrained cows being bludgeoned with sledgehammers as they frantically attempt to avoid the blows meant to smash their skulls. The footage has triggered a public discussion and debate about the rationale for exporting live animals instead refrigerated meat from animals slaughtered in Australia.
Live export companies claim that animals must be exported live because refrigeration in the countries to which they are shipped is inadequate. According to advocates, however, that rationale is dubious. A Cambodian company called SLN Meat Supplies, which recently imported almost 3,000 Australian cattle, stated that it plans to store and eventually export the meat of those animals to China, Vietnam and Japan. According to SLN, refrigeration will be used in the process. SLN is one of many companies that imports live animals, slaughters them and then exports the refrigerated meat to other countries.
Live export companies falsely claim that exporting animals while they are alive is necessary due to lack of refrigeration in the importing companies.
Simon Whitehouse of Live Export – GlobalVoice4Animals has a different theory about why Australian companies export live animals instead of slaughtering them locally: “large profits [made] through the exploitation of grossly underpaid, third world labor.” Cheap third world labor fuels the live export trade in many ways.
Slaughterhouse workers in poor countries are paid much less than those in more wealthy countries. A Cambodian slaughterhouse worker, for instance, receives about 1/200 the salary of an Australian worker. Since the wholesale price of beef in poor countries is about the same as it is in wealthy countries, the lower wages lead to a greater profit margin for the companies that import live animals. In some cases, live export companies partially or fully own the importing companies, so slaughtering the animals where labor is cheaper increases their profit margins. When live export companies earn higher profits, they offer ranchers more money for their animals. Cheap third world labor therefore affects the live export trade at virtually every step in the supply chain. “Without that cheap labor source, there would be no live export trade” says Mr. Whitehouse.
Exported Australian cow being slaughtered.
Each year, Australia ships millions of live sheep, cattle and goats to countries in the Middle East and Asia where they are slaughtered for meat. Footage taken during more than 30 investigations conducted by Animals Australia demonstrates that many of these animals endure “routine abuse” and “brutal slaughter” in countries that have few, if any, protections in place. In addition, millions of animals have died on the ships during the treacherous overseas journeys during which are intensively confined and deprived of their basic needs.
Perhaps the only thing that the animal agriculture industry and animal rights activists can agree upon is the name of the device in which dairy cows are impregnated – the “rape rack.”
Female cows restrained in a device referred to as the “rape rack”
The “rape rack” is a narrow, chute-like device in which female cows are restrained while they undergo a process the dairy industry euphemistically refers to as “artificial insemination.” During artificial insemination (AI), a dairy worker inserts one of his arms into the rectum of a restrained cow and, with his other arm, inserts a rod-like device called an Al gun into her vagina. The Al gun, which contains bull semen, is pushed in further until it reaches the cervix (the entrance to the uterus). The semen is then injected into the uterus.
A diagram illustrates how to artificially inseminate a female cow.
Many supporters of animal rights argue that forcibly impregnating cows constitutes sexual abuse. “As public awareness of its barbaric practices increases, the dairy industry is desperate to whitewash them,” said Kathy Stevens, the Executive Director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary. “They can call this practice ‘artificial insemination’ if they wish, but impregnation against one’s will using forcible restraint pretty much sounds like rape to me.”
In order to produce milk, cows and other animals used for dairy production must be impregnated each year because their milk production stops at around the time their calves would naturally stop nursing.
To maximize the amount of milk available for human consumption, babies are typically taken away from their mothers within 24 hours of birth, causing profound distress to both the mother and her newborn. Mother cows bellow and call to their babies for days following the separation. Some of the babies are sent directly to the slaughterhouse, to veal farms, or to feedlots; the rest become dairy cows like their mothers.
Dairy industry diagram illustrates the different ways to profit off of male calves, who cannot produce milk.
The psychological and physical stresses of life in the dairy industry rapidly weaken and/or sicken cows, quickly rendering them unprofitable to their owners. They are therefore sent to slaughter at a fraction of their natural lifespan. When the cows arrive at the slaughter plant, they often need to be dragged to the kill floor because they are too weak to walk.
A cow too weak to walk (downer) is pulled into a truck which will carry her into the slaughter plant.
A 2014 horror film entitled “The Herd” vividly depicts the torment endured by cows in the dairy industry. This film, directed by Melanie Light, portrays a fictional dairy farm in which the cows are replaced with human women.
In an interview with “Shock Till You Drop,” a website devoted to reviewing horror films, Light, who describes herself as a “vegan feminist,” said: “A lot of people don’t make the connection. Being female isn’t exclusive to humans . . .These cows, pigs and sheep are abused for their reproductive systems.”
Over the years, the term “rape rack” has gradually disappeared from the dairy industry’s vernacular. “It used to be common parlance in dairy farming. Today, farmers are far more savvy about terminology—as are other industries that use animals” says Katie Arth of PETA. “As a result, that term has vanished from the farmers’ vocabulary in the same way that ‘iron maidens’ and ‘restraint chairs’ have been renamed ‘sow stalls’ and ‘gentling devices.’ The industry now prefers to use euphemisms such as ‘breeding boxes’ to describe the boxes or chutes where female cows are restrained while a worker forcibly inseminates them.”
A restrained female cow undergoing artificial insemination
To learn more about artificial insemination please visit Free From Harm.
To learn about other dairy industry practices and undercover investigations done on dairy farms please visit Mercy for Animals.
It was business as usual at the annual bull riding rodeo in NYC, with patrons greeting protesters with obscene gestures; accusing them of wearing leather shoes; and promising to eat “a juicy steak” after the show.
For the past decade, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) has, as a part of its national tour, staged a three day rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York City. And, each year, animal rights activists have protested at the entrance.
Animal rights activists stage three days of protests (Jan 15 – 17) at the bull riding rodeo at Madison Square Garden
While the majority of bull riding patrons who stopped to engage with the protesters during the three days of protests were hostile and defensive, a few attempted to convince them that the bulls are treated with great care because they earn a living for the riders. Activists in NYC say they have heard that before, as that is the same argument used by the horse-drawn carriage operators who drive their horses through the congested streets of midtown Manhattan.
Bull riders use weapons and drugs to make the animals buck
Learn more about bull riding cruelty from the organization leading the fight to expose it — SHARK (Showing Animals Respect & Kindness)
In one of the most highly anticipated animal events of 2015, thousands of people traveled to High Falls, New York on September 5th to celebrate the grand re-opening of the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in its new location. Situated on 150 lush green acres, the new sanctuary will serve not only as a refuge for rescued farm animals but also as a living classroom for visitors and a venue for cruelty-free events, such as summer camps and celebrations.
Jenny Brown and Doug Abel, the founders of Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, opened the original location in upstate New York on 26 acres, but they – and the animals they rescue who serve as ambassadors to all victims of animal agriculture – have outgrown the space. The new sanctuary is six times the size and far more expensive to own and operate. Please support Woodstock Farm Sanctuary by making a contribution or becoming a member.