I recently had a chance to interview Nathan Runkle, founder and executive director of Mercy For Animals, one of the nation’s most effective animal advocacy groups.
Little did I know, at the time MFA was involved in perhaps its most important undercover investigation yet.
I’m looking forward to sharing the interview, but first a brief note about this investigation at Conklin Dairy Farms in Plain City, Ohio. The investigation covered a four-week period in which workers were secretly videotaped sadistically abusing dairy cows and their calves.
Sadly, as much as we’d like to believe it’s a rarity, this is not a case of “bad apples” or an isolated instance of abuse. The abuse captured in this video is typical of all animal enterprises, from factory farms, slaughterhouses, fur farms and vivesector’s labs. Every single time an animal protection organization or animal rights group has been able to infiltrate one of these enterprises, footage of extreme abuse and violence is captured. These industries are notoriously difficult to infiltrate because they don’t want the public to see what goes on within their walls.
(Go ahead, ask a local slaughterhouse or hatchery for a tour.)
The consequences of these undercover investigations are generally a slap on the wrist, a low-level employee losing his or her job and possibly some toothless regulation.
There’s another solution.
These businesses only thrive because we purchase their products. If we stop consuming animal products including animal flesh, dairy and eggs, we undermine these industries at the root. If you think the answer lies in marketing gimmicks used by the industry to make you feel better about your consumption, like “sustainable” and “humane,” get real. Using animals for food, clothing, entertainment or scientific research is inherently unethical, no matter what conditions the animals live under.
The worst thing about a video like this is the shocking reminder that this abuse, violence and cruelty is normal, standard, everyday practice; it is protected by our laws and accepted in our culture, and the overwhelming majority of people in this country support the industries that perpetuate it. And it’s a reminder that the tiny percentage of us who refuse to support these industries are considered freaks.
Photo courtesy of Mikko Alanne