Animal Abuse is Not Okay

If you pay attention to the news at all (I don’t, it’s depressing) you may have seen something about the company Chilliwack Cattle Sales, located in Canada, and was filmed abusing their dairy cows. I was a little hesitant to jump into the middle of this battle, since dairy isn’t my area of expertise, but there are a few points I’d like to make. If you haven’t seen the video yet, I’ve posted it here.

Please note; it contains foul language and some graphic images. 

First of all, I’ve watched a few animal rights activist videos before, and usually they show typical animal husbandry practices totally out of context in an attempt to cast a negative light on the industry. This is not one of those videos.
An example of this is another Mercy for Animals video I watched which showed someone helping a stubborn dairy cow to her feet with a skid loader. Notice I said helping – when a 2,000 pound animal decides it does not want to get up, I can promise that little ‘ole 140 pound me is not going to get her to move. In the subtitles of the video, MFA used language like “forced” and “injured” and “heavy equipment”. That doesn’t sound quite as harmless, does it? 

There is, however, a distinct difference between assisting (and sometimes the cattle do get injured) an animal to her feet, and dragging her around by the neck on a chain, whooping and hollering about how that’s “funny”. 

I grew up raising animals for 4-H and competitively participated in Jr. Rodeo. It’s pretty easy to get frustrated with your animals sometimes, especially since they don’t speak English and definitely have a mind of their own. However, you did not, and I repeat, did not, beat on your animals. You did not lose your temper; that was pointless, and just plain mean. 
With this background in mind, the minute I saw that guy beating on that cow with whatever that big yellow stick was, my first instinct was to jerk it out of his hand and wop him over the head with it. (I probably would have pushed him off the railing too.) 

I don’t know what the animal welfare laws in Canada are. I did a quick internet search but it was pretty futile. I looked into the case with the Chilliwack Cattle Sales – figuratively speaking, it smells fishy. This is the third time they’ve been cited with some sort of malpractice; this is the second time they’ve been reported for animal abuse, and in 2008 they were taken to court over an Ecoli outbreak.
The recorder of the video was, apparently, a former employee. According to this employee, they had gone to the upper management several times about the abuse they were seeing and was brushed off. The manager reported that he had only spoken with the employee once. This miscommunication, or lack thereof, is itself, an issue. You can’t just turn the welfare of your animals over to people who may or may not have had any experience with them before. This employee was an animal rights advocate, and had applied to several facilities; Chilliwack was simply the first to hire them. Chilliwack clearly needs to re-evaluate their hiring practices, for various reasons. 

I’m not impressed with the report from the vet that regularly saw to the cows. He claims he never saw the abuse, and that cattle just “get hurt”. “They play rough”, he said.
Okay, sure.  
He’s right, cattle do roughhouse sometimes, and cows, just like most females, have a pecking order, and boss each other around. You always have that one cow that’s the “boss cow”. But those bag lesions and torn hooves were most definitely not consequences of “roughhousing”. That was abuse and neglect, and he’s an idiot.
If this video had been filmed like some of the other MFA videos I’ve seen, (with footage taken out of context) I would have been more likely to believe that. Seeing the conduct of the workers there leads me to go ahead and assume that yeah, those were human inflicted wounds.
I’ve worked cattle since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I learned all of my favorite swear-words from working around spring-loaded chutes (they smash fingers) and high-headed beef steers, and I’ll admit, I’ve hurled some choice words at a bovine or two. But seriously? Was some of that language necessary? Not that cows understand when they’re being called a B***, or that other awful word that I won’t repeat, but what it does reflect is the attitude of those guys. They look at these animals as a pain in their butt, just something to be used to garner a paycheck. They’re not like the dairy owners I know, like Carrie Mess and Rebecca Chaney, who love, love, LOVE their cows, give them names, scratch their ears, and write stories about them! 

Here’s the MAIN point I’d like to make – MFA wants to shut down dairies entirely. A multimillion dollar industry that employs thousands of people and feeds infinitely many more; yeah, they want to shut it aaaalll down because of 8 idiots that never learned how to treat a lady (or an animal) nicely, and the company that hired them.
That’s just dumb. Take for example, the Dominos video that had everybody squirming. This was mostly an isolated incident. There are enough regulations in place that when something like this happens, consumers expect that the establishment will be reprimanded, their practices rectified, and an apology to be made. They may not ever eat at that particular establishment again, but they don’t demand that the entire food service industry be shut down because two stupid, minimum wage workers rubbed some cheese on their rear end.
So why, pray tell, do you assume the food animal industry doesn’t work the same way?
Why would you ask that the entire dairy industry be shut down because a select handful of people didn’t meet the expected standard? Why don’t you just shut down that one establishment (which clearly needs to happen if the owners are not going to be involved enough to know that their employees aren’t douchebags) and commend the other establishments that treat their animals respectfully (not just to meet standards, but above and beyond).
I’ve been to several dairies across the Midwest and I’ve never seen anything but happy, healthy cattle. I’ve never seen workers be rough with their cows, and I’ve never met an owner that wasn’t totally dedicated to those lovely “ladies” inhabiting their milking parlor.
This behavior is not okay – not from the owners and workers of Chilliwack Cattle Sales, or the members of Mercy for Animals who are being completely unreasonable and slandering the good name of decent dairy owners.
Pull your heads out, guys. We have to work together on this.

~Danger Out~

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