I am not an “animal person” – never was. But it doesn’t take a special kind of person to know that suffering and killing are wrong.
Spending so much time at a sanctuary, I find myself more invested in the stories of the individual animals.
The oldest potbelly pig Charlie has some digestive issues so he gets Metamucil everyday with his food, and Country Time Lemonade to watch it down!
Everyone has their own diet to meet their special needs. The folks in Animal Care work so hard to take amazing care of everyone.
Carmen the Barbados sheep is a natural sheep with no wool, who sheds excess fur. Yup, that’s right, thick “wool” that needs to be sheared is not natural, it’s the process of thousands of years of selective breeding. Carmen came to Animal Place a young lamb, very lucky to be alive at all. She was being raised on a small family farm in rural Nevada County when she broke her leg. For weeks she stumbled around on the farm as the leg became infected. The property owners did not provide any veterinary care, at which point a neighbour intervened and convinced the owners to sign custody over to Animal Place. They rushed her to the UC Davies veterinary centre, but they were unable to save the leg. She now hops around on 3 legs, and seems pretty happy. She’s a little shaky, probably because it’s hard work on her muscles to support herself. She’s certainly enjoying herself here!
Panda is a cow who was being raised at a school, as part of an FFA or 4-H program. Someone broke into the school at night, covered him in lighter fluid, and set him on fire. When he was found, the person raising him for slaughter wanted to save him – meaning save him so that he could sell him at auction to be killed later. A private donor stepped in and helped Animal Place save his life.
It’s easy to see a case like Panda’s as simply as aberration, but the fact is that this kind of extreme cruelty is the inevitable result of seeing beings as things. When animals are converted into things for our purposes and are legally owned, we can’t expect for them to be treated with any respect or dignity or justice. If they happen to be treated well, that’s great, but it’s just lucky. The harsher reality of their mistreatment is built into the consciousness that looks out at the world of other animals and sees things to use for our selfish purposes. The problem is use not treatment. We react to “cruelty” cases with repulsion whenever the cruelty at hand is not the institutionalized, business-as-usual cruelty inflicted on animals every single day. The basic moral principle that underlies our opposition to these individual cruelty cases is that it’s wrong to cause unnecessary suffering and death to sentient beings. So, since we don’t need to eat animals, any suffering or death inflicted on them for food production is precisely the unnecessary suffering and death we oppose in individual cases.
Most of us are already committed in principle to do no harm.
We’re already vegan in our hearts and minds.