Friday, June 18, 2010

Ex-Slaughterhouse Worker Arraigned on Animal Cruelty Charges

Last year, the Humane Society of the United States investigated Bushway Packing, a slaughterhouse that kills young male dairy calves for the bob veal industry. What they found was appalling - animals were being skinned alive, slaughtered in front of other animals, prodded and hit while down.

This wasn't the first time the slaughterhouse had been accused of egregious animal abuse - a Food Safety inspector had tried to get the plant shut down before and was essentially fired for doing so. It took an undercover animal rights investigation for anything to change...sorta. The slaughterhouse re-opened recently but under a new name, even amidst an ongoing investigation.

Now, two employees are being charged with animal cruelty. One has been arraigned on two misdemeanor charges and, amazingly, one felony charge. He faces up to five years in prison and a piddly $9,000 fine. The second man is the co-owner who fled from the law and has a warrant out on him.

Anyone who saw the video would agree the animals were treated cruelly.

But what isn't talked about much is why these days-old calves are there in the first place. The veal industry exists because of the dairy industry. Bob veal is one incarnation in which extremely young, days-old calves are taken from their moms without nursing and transported many miles to slaughterhouses. Their pale, young flesh is then sold.

While I'm glad these ex-employees are being charged with animal cruelty, I feel it misses the point. They work in an industry that kills baby animals for a living, that requires maternal deprivation, and that steals breast milk meant for a calf and gives it to human beings. That seems pretty cruel to me.

Killing baby animals is not easy work. Calves are cute, gentle, sweet animals. They often look to nurse off of their killers. I imagine the only way to cope with the mass killing of calves would be to desensitize oneself. Unfortunately the side effects of this cognitive dissonance is exemplified in every single undercover investigation of animal production facilities - people do horrible things to animals once they stop seeing them as sentient, feeling beings.


YesBiscuit! said...

I was talking with the butcher at a grocery store recently and he said that in Europe (I think I'm remembering that right), veal costs many hundreds of dollars per pound and is made from unborn calves. I haven't researched to check that claim.

Rinalia said...

I don't think that's entirely true. A search on the web shows you can buy british veal for $11/lb. The most expensive one at this particular butcher was $30/lb. This was from a farm that pastures the calves. Veal crates aren't legal in the UK or much of Europe, actually.

It just wouldn't be cost-productive to c-section a cow every time she was pregnant. She'd have to be sedated, taking her out of the dairy for a longer time, and then she'd have to recover from the surgery before going back to the parlor.

When low-producing dairy cows are culled, sometimes they're pregnant. The cow is killed, then her fetus/calf is removed and killed. They're mostly used for research purposes, as far as I know.

YesBiscuit! said...

Well then "it's not entirely true" is a bit of an understatement! It's completely wrong. Makes me wonder if he knew what the heck he was talking about on other things. I do recall openly scoffing at his assertion that corn is what a cow would naturally eat in the wild.
The whole conversation started because I was asking him if they carried any grass fed beef and the discussion blossomed into whether they carried any humanely raised meat at all. He said no to everything. Maybe I should ask someone else there.