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The Harsh Reality of Animal Cruelty in Slaughterhouses and Farm Factories Essay Sample

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The Harsh Reality of Animal Cruelty in Slaughterhouses and Farm Factories Essay Sample

The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina defines animal cruelty as any violence or neglect perpetrated against any animal. Such cruelty include animal abuse especially on domesticated animals (dogs, chickens, cows, etc.) or it also include neglect wherein any kept animal is not provided with basic necessities like food, clean water and shelter. That is why certain laws are made by each state in the U.S. that enacted animal cruelty laws. Each law, however, varied from every state and country. Each humane society for animals is advocating guidelines on how to educate people about proper care of animals and avoid cruelties. Accordingly, societies have divided animal cruelty into two general categories: intentional cruelty and neglect.

Such animal neglect covers the failure to give animals necessities to live and care by a veterinarian. The laws stated that such ignorance of the owner to provide these basic things to his pets or animals can be a crucial case to incidentally taken the animal out of the owner’s custody by the law enforcement authorities. Intentional cruelty however is more severe than neglect because there is the person’s purpose of inflicting physical harm, injury or death to an animal. Animal welfare volunteers have already documented and pointed at individuals who intentionally maimed, tortured or killed animals was arrested but unfortunately, these perpetrators are often not prosecuted in full force of the law (Carolina).

But how about if the intention is not really to harm or kill the animals for pleasure or game but to butcher them for human consumption as part of man’s daily need for meat will it also be considered this as a cruelty to animals and have a compromising case against animal laws? We all know that butchery and slaughter of animals are normal cases that happen every minute in every slaughterhouse in many parts of the world and we all know that every meat we eat has undergone an unimaginable pain toward the animal before it was killed, maimed, cooked and serve to your plate. Is this not enough that each of us must greatly ponder that an animal like any other creature deserve to live and die a natural death instead of living a short secluded life and be butchered? Fist let us take a look on what in reality slaughterhouses are doing with different animals and how these cruelties are denying the animals of their very rights.

The Slaughterhouse

According to the book of Gail A. Eisnitz, Slaughterhouse, which made a thorough investigation and interview with workers of different slaughterhouses in different states, slaughterhouses were like killing machines insensitive of killing of defenseless animals just for the humans to have food on their plates.

In one of her interview, a worker described the event of the animals’ life from their long journey from farms. While inside the crowded pens and cages, the animals are piling on top of each other suffocating and experiencing agony on extreme temperatures. He said that during the winter months, some hogs were already freezing to death before they arrive at the slaughterhouse. The below zero temperature adhered their skin on the sides of the truck and they cannot move. To move them, the workers tie chains around their bodies and jerk them hard leaving chunks of hide and flesh behind. Those who are dying are thrown among the dead on piles but will also be butchered.

       While the live once are inside the slaughterhouse, some animals were already weak and injured. The crippled ones were beaten to death with lead pipes. Before the animal can enter the chute, it is already dead. Some hogs that can barely move and go inside the chute were hooked by meat hook into the anus and when the hog jerk its body, parts of their intestines comes out and sometimes their thighs are ripped open.

Another interview is from a worker who works for a horse slaughterhouse. The worker said he had to hook the horse upside down and skin it alive. Their hands should be fast enough to skin the horse before it dies. Usually blood comes out of its nose with bubbles and suffocating it.

A cow slaughterer also said that many times the skinner will slice the head of the cow with a sharp knife to check if it is still alive after shooting it. If it would jerk its head because of the pain, the skinner will get a longer knife and shove it into the back of its head and severe the spinal cord to paralyze it. Although the cow could not move it still could feel the pain. Eventually it will be skinned alive. The calves are not spared from the merciless killing either. To kill them faster, they put eighth or nine of them in a knocking box and shoot them in the head one by one. Sometimes a single bullet in the head is not enough to put a calf down and it will panic and will try to jump out. They pile on top of each other bleeding and more shooting is done. Even if they are still alive the skinner would do their part on them.

On pig slaughterhouses, the hogs are hooked upside down and stabbed in the heart to bleed. After few minutes of trashing, blood poured out from its wound scattering all over the place. Still alive and kicking, it will be put into the scalding tank along with the dead.  You can hear them screaming in pain and while it tries to escape, a rotating arm will push them under and will die of drowning from the boiling water.

Although this everyday event is just routinely done by the workers, this repetitive killing could have a toll on them. Some workers said they take their frustrations out in the workplace and they would torture and maim the animals while it is fully alive. To hear them cry in pain and agony would ease some of the pressure (Gail A Eisnitz. Reviewed by Alex Hershaft).

These are only few of the accounts that Eisnitz presented in his book. There are more stories behind each slaughterhouse that really deserve to be called a house of slaughter. Recently, footage from a hidden camera has been taken by an undercover worker and presents evidence on the torturous activities behind poultry slaughterhouses. The video was taken on February 2007 inside the House of Raeford Farms, Inc. in Raeford, North Carolina and was even featured in YouTube.  An undercover worker who is a member for Mercy For Animals (MFA) and worked in the “live-hang” area of the plant captures every delirious act of cruelty done to turkeys and chickens. Eventually the video presented the following:

  • Turkeys with broken legs and wings, open wounds, boils and tumors were included for slaughter and processing
  • A worker was shown punching a turkey hard while the animal was shackled
  • Some workers are jamming their fingers into the cloacae (anus) of live chickens to look for eggs
  • Chickens and turkeys were thrown like balls high up in the air just for fun
  • More torturous workers are ripping the heads off from live turkeys
  • Birds crushed to death under trucks’ wheels

This video was presented to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) but unfortunately, the agency said the abusive workers could not be charged under federal animal laws because the said animals are not included in their enforcement of the Humane Slaughter Act. In this regard, the MFA is just seeking felony charges under the cruelty-to-animals against House of Raeford Farms in violation of the state’s animal cruelty law (Animals).

Animals –do they deserve it?

Some people say that cruelty can only happen if the there is a feeling of hurt on another that is psychologically, emotionally and physically irrelevant. But do animals have the tendency to feel pain? There were studies that the brain metabolism of animals may not be very different from those of humans. Experiments showed that similar physical brain processes like the neurotransmitter dopamine which can be seen in humans during emotions of joy and desire can also be seen on animals on laboratory trials. Their reaction to different stimuli and actions proved that they also use their brain in mental processing.

This observation have been seen with different animal laboratories and analysis conclude that though man and animals have a very different intelligence, the animals do have certain emotions toward certain circumstances such as when happy, sad, hungry and in pain.

For the scientists, this finding is not just a scientific message and a breakthrough but a social issue especially for the advocates of animal protection. As animals with capability of this emotion there appeared to be valid reason in considering how humans shall deal with them (Wilhelm).

Animal Exploitation

Not only farm animals suffer from maltreatment and abuse by man. More than 3 million dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and other animals are euthanized every year because nobody provided homes for them. For every pet who receive family care there are thousands of them just barely surviving from harsh environment. Other animals have homes to live but they are deprived of veterinary care and other basic necessities which they essentially need. Birds are caged for years and used as decorations, hamsters live in filthy cages, cats are left outside their houses and gets hungry and dogs are chained outside their cages (PETA).

Factory Farms

Of the billions of animals being sent to the slaughterhouses each year in America, almost all them come from factory farms. Factory farms are farms intended to proliferate these animals regardless of their harsh environment. There are factory farms for raising cattle, pigs, chickens and dairy cows. All of these animals are confined inside buildings which are totally packed with their tired and bruised bodies. Hens are crammed into cages their feet are actually growing on wire mesh floors. With this condition, they tend to peck on each other and workers would have to cut off the ends of their beaks. Cows and pigs are also caged in small stalls unable to turn around or lie uncomfortably. While cattle are branded and castrated and their ears, tails and teeth are mutilated, these animals live in their own filth most of the time they get sores, wounds and infections.

Antibiotics are administered to control diseases but these antibiotics only produce disease-resistance organisms to proliferate among them and most of these diseases could be harmful to humans. Pesticides cannot be used without harming the farmers, field workers and animals. Severe exposure to chemicals such as DDT and chlordane were found to be more toxic to man and animals than controlling the pests thriving inside crowded cages (Freedman and Barnouin).

Government Regulations

In the United States, every state has its laws against cruelty to animals. Surprisingly, each state has also in some degree differences in their prohibitions. Some states have strong level for felony charges against certain cruelty while other states categorize such felony as just misdemeanors or felonies with weak penalties.

Accordingly, as of June 2007, 43 US states have already enacted their felony-level penalties on certain cruelties. Extensive felony anti-cruelty law should apply to all animal offenders. Large fines or imprisonment with no exemptions for the convicted and must undergo counseling. Abusers must not have any legal rights to posses any animal.

But are there really solid laws that would make an animal rights activist to sit comfortably in his seat if there is really no violence against animal protection law? The bad news, however, was that elected officials are being bribed by the so called farmed-animal industry lobbyists. There are reports that campaign contributions from meat, dairy and egg companies and the promise of good position in the industry after their term was provided to these politicians to shut them off. The result was that legitimate animal laws are not supported by the federal states as well and these politicians always turn a blind eye to the problem. The Center for Public Integrity reported that Washington was greatly influenced by the meat industry’s recruitment of politicians who are lobbyists for their selfish goals. These industrialists are filling the lawmaker’s campaign coffers providing them all possibilities of a luxurious life thus influencing the decisions in Washington.

In the past five years alone, agribusinesses have channeled more than $140 million to politicians. This amount was more than the money donated for the pharmaceutical and tobacco industries under the Washington’s supervision.  Some government officials stated that the present US administration have become more difficult to enforce laws regarding animal cruelties  (Tuckerman).

Factory Farms Affecting Human Health

But what are the real issues behind these factory farms that they are always involve in the controversies of affecting human health, the environment and cruelties to the helpless animals? Modern slaughterhouses can run at high speed and can kill and process large numbers of animal every hour. In Europe alone, 10,000 birds per hour were being slaughtered in chicken slaughterhouses. More than 400 cattle are slaughtered on different slaughterhouses in US alone. Too many times faster as compared 20 years ago.

The tasks required by the fast-paced job have a physical and psychological strain on workers. This put them at risk with greater injury. US study said that a person working in cattle slaughterhouse although skilled in his task is required to do repetitive task to paralyze and kill each animal. Captive bolt gun to stun the cows, killing the cows using long knives to severe the animal’s carotid arteries were being done repetitively for eight and a half hours a day. The effect of such repetitive task has a physical strain on the workers.

Among workers who have the usual respiratory diseases can be found on chicken and pig units because of allergic reactions on animal sheds. Strong levels of dust, viruses, ammonia and moulds are always present in the air. Poisonous gas such as hydrogen sulphide from animal slurry storage is also continuously being inhaled by the workers.

For the meatpacking alone, many workers suffered work-related injury and eventually the butcher suffers more injury with their use of knives and accidentally wounding themselves or their workmates. These same things happen in different parts of the world where injuries to animals happen before they are slaughtered. Some countries do not even use methods to stun the animals and a scared animal can be greatly injured because of force handling.

Because of the injurious nature of the job, many industrialized countries are now hiring immigrant workers and incidentally most of these workers are illiterate which hinder them to speak the language and unable for them to understand training and safety guidelines. Such incapacity is a great factor that could contribute hazards with their job (WSPA “Worker Health in Intensive Farms and Slaughterhouses”)

Factory Farms Affecting the Environment 

We all know that animal manure can be a good source of fertilizer particularly if it comes from farming animals. Manure is rich in nitrogen necessary for the plants to flourish and organic farming has been the product of consciousness among people who tried to avoid inorganically grown-crops. But this manure can best be utilized if it will be derive from farm intentionally to breed farm animals in sufficient numbers just like in traditional farming.

When farm animals are cultivated in large numbers say for example large piggeries, poultries and ranches, their large volume of manure can be hazardous to the environment especially if there is absence of proper disposal facilities. Large quantities of nitrogen, phosphorous and heavy metals present in the feeds and excreted by the animals are potential pollutants.

A single dairy cow can produce up to 20 tons of manure which is equivalent to 108 kg of nitrogen and 54 kg of phosphorus a year. Even the US Senate Committee has estimated that 200 dairy cows can produce as much nitrogen in their manure as compared to a town’s by-products comprise of 10,000 residents.

Industrial pig farms produces slurry which is a mixture of urine and feces and is stored in huge tanks or lagoons. If this slurry is disposed of onto land it can cause pollution on soil and water because of its very high biological oxygen demand. An estimated 30% of the total nitrogen in this slurry may escape into the environment in the form of ammonia gas. This high level of nitrate from animal feedlots has been linked to the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women.

Eutrophication which is caused by the slurry can have a damaging effect on the environment. Eutrophication is the excessive growth of algae due to nutrient enrichment in the water. This algae multiply rapidly and affect rivers and other waterways and can result in proliferation of toxic algae and fish death. One classic example was the effect of Hurricane Floyd which hit North Carolina in 1999 and destroyed and overflowed pig slurry lagoons causing massive killing of fish and millions of dollars for the clean-up costs (WSPA “Intensive Earming and Environmental Health Pollution by Manure, Slurry and Animal Carcases”).

While in America, more than half of the water used on the intensive farming or farm factories produces 130 times more excrement than the human population. Run-off from their waste is polluting waterways and when this excrement gets piled up it emit gases such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and nitrous oxide. Such gases pollute the air surrounding the farms and released into the air as contributors to global warming. And to make way for more intensive farms, forest were converted to agricultural lands while feed crops serve as food for their animals. This man-made destruction causes soil erosion and animals are becoming extinct because of the loss of their habitat (GoVeg).

Now that we have discussed some disadvantages with regards with factory farms and slaughterhouses and their drawbacks to man and the environment, let us tackle some of the issues on consuming the products as well.

Generally, Americans are meat lovers. According to the Agricultural Fact Book in 2001-2001, in year 2000 alone, an average American have an average consumption of 195 pounds of meat a year. The National Center for Health Statistics also said that 62 percent of adult Americans were overweight as compared to 46 percent in 1980 (USDA).

But according to research which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology findings show that red meat, saturated fat, poultry products like eggs and dairies can lead to certain diseases like lymphatic cancer. This is because red meat and cow’s milk are at present grown in unhealthy environment by the ranching industry. Feeds for animals come from grounded chicken litter, diseased animals and laced with heavy metals. Occasionally owners pumped their bodies with illegal hormones to make them grow faster and gain more weight. These chemicals accumulate and become concentrated on animal fat tissues. That is why the juicier the hamburger, the more toxic substances it can contain.

Cow’s milk also lacks the proper nutrition to provide enough nutrition for babies. It lacks gamma-linolenic acid and magnesium necessary for the normal growth of children and its protein content is difficult to digest which makes other babies to have diarrhea (Target).

Other disadvantages on eating too much meat is its high cholesterol content and saturated fats, an excess of these can lead to heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Doctors who specialize in heart diseases suggest to their patients who have undergone heart by-pass surgery to turn on vegetarian diet as part of their program for recovery. Thus turning to vegetarian diet can save you from these diseases and also save more than 100 million animals a year from being butchered.

While the average cholesterol level of meat-eaters is 210, vegans have an average level of 133 and there is no documented case of stroke among those who practice vegan diet. Approximately there is about one-ninth greater chance the meat eaters will be obese than vegans. They also have 40 percent of risk in getting cancer unlike with meat-eaters that could develop illnesses like strokes, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, allergies, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Building a Transition

Many vegetarian changed their food habits and turn to vegetarian for some reasons. This is the desire to treat animals with compassion, achievement of overall health and to protect the environment. But during this transition, the body goes tremendous changes and hunger for the habit of protein because the dependency is stronger than what is willed. Being a vegetarian considers you to have eliminated all meat from animals from your diet but consumption with dairy products such as eggs and cheese are allowable. Some vegetarians are also consuming fish or fowls (VegforLife).

The vegetarian’s diet is usually composed of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and nuts. Some total vegetarians completely remove even eggs, milk or cheese from their diet. While a vegan is a person who avoids all avoids product coming from any animal in any form because of the principle that due to these products, animal suffer as well. It is now concluded that vegans if compared to the vegetarian is making conscious effort in avoiding all forms of exploitation, cruelty and harm to animals regardless of any  principle by any society (Stepaniak).

The question on how to avoid such issue to stabilize or control animal cruelties has a greater connection on how people should choose their food. But can we do it that easily? What if our body needs the protein we habitually take can we manage to live without it? According to Doctor Neal D. Bernard, a clinical researcher and advocate for health and nutrition in his book, Breaking the Food Seduction, certain animal components in food particularly from dairy products like milk and chocolate, have certain food addictive elements that kept you coming back. The thing is the taste buds are not responsible to keep you wanting more but your brain actually is being stimulated by the morphine like substance present in chocolates.

Although this chemical element is not as potential as the actual morphine, it also causes cravings and certain kind of addiction for products that does have the same elements that can be found on cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

At Wellcome Research Laboratories, a discovery was made that samples from cow’s milk have traces of a chemical that resemble morphine. After many tests, they found out that that component is actually traces of morphine. Indeed, there is also small amount of it almost undetectable even on human milk.

Morphine is an opiate and so it is addictive and the question of how does such substance got into these milk is an intriguing question. Although theories that it might came from cow’s diets, the study further realized that it is actually produced inside the cow’s bodies. Also traces of codeine, casemorphins and other opiates are discovered to be produced in cow’s livers and can transport to the milk glands.

But meat-lovers are not able to give with their love for meat. A survey in April 2000 among 1,244 adults revealed that the ration of 1 in 4 of the adults would not change their meat for a week even given 1,000 dollars. Their reasons could be their dependency with the food just like with chocolate and cheese.

Dr. Barnard suggests that if you are already hooked with chocolate, cheese or meat there are some food alternatives you can do so as not to suffer eating unhealthy foods. Just make sure that rest, and support from family and friends are at hand and adopting a low-fat vegan diet can at least support your daily requirements of nutrients (Barnard).

Works Cited

Animals, Mercy For. “Slaughterhouse Cruelty at House of Raeford Farms Exposed!” (11 Feb 2007). 10 October 200. http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-slaughterhousecruelty.html.

Barnard, Neal D. “Breaking the Food Seduction.” (2003). 10 October 2007. http://www.pcrm.org/magazine/gm03summer/gm03summer02.html.

Carolina, Humane Society of Eastern. “Animal Cruelty Facts.” (28 Dec 2006), 10 October 2007. http://www.hsecarolina.org/Cruelty.htm.

Freedman, Rory, and Kim Barnouin. “Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous! .” (2005). 11 October 2007. http://www.vegparadise.com/vegreading86.html.

Gail A Eisnitz. Reviewed by Alex Hershaft, PhD. “Slaughterhouse.” Prometheus Books. October 1997. 310 pages.10 October 2007. http://www.meat.org.uk/slaught.html.

GoVeg. “Vegetarian 101.” (2007). 11 October 2007. http://goveg.com/vegetarian101.asp.

PETA. “Animal Exploitation.” (2007).11 October 2007. http://www.peta.org/actioncenter/exploitation.asp.

Stepaniak, Joanne. “What Is Veganism.” (2007). 10 October 2007. http://www.afa-online.org/veganinfo.html.

Target, News. “Red Meat, Cow’s Milk and Low-Fiber Diets Increase Risk of Lymphatic Cancer, Says New Research.” (2004). 11 October 20007. http://www.newstarget.com/000983.html.

Tuckerman, Carol. “Politicians for Sale.” (2004). 11 October 2007. http://www.goveg.com/government_forsale.asp.

USDA. “Profiling Food Consumption in America.” (2003). 10 October 2007. http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.htm.

VegforLife. “Veg How To.” (2007). 11 October 20007. http://www.vegforlife.org/howto.htm.

Wilhelm, Klaus. “Do Animals Have Feelings?” (1 Feb 2006). 11 October 2007. http://www.elephantvoices.org/tools/documents/feelings.pdf.

WSPA. “Intensive Earming and Environmental Health Pollution by Manure, Slurry and Animal Carcases.” (2007). 11 October 2007. http://wspafarmwelfare.org/hhenvhealth.html.

—. “Worker Health in Intensive Farms and Slaughterhouses

“, (2007). 12 October 2007. http://wspafarmwelfare.org/hhworkers.html.

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