Reading the headline, “2011 a Banner Year for Animals” on Huffington Post excited me.
The headline was accompanied by an article and video from PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. In her article and video, Ms. Newkirk recounted the victories made on behalf of animals last year.
She mentions large fines lodged against Ringling, new EPA testing which replaced testing on animals, bans on foie gras, bullhooks and fur, and an overwhelming array of support from the international community for animal issues.
As a long-standing vegetarian and animal rights supporter, this news warmed my heart.
Yesterday I was reminded that this journey towards the humane treatment of all animals is still a long, uphill battle.
On January 23rd, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled to overturn California Penal Code 599f. This code was brought to light following a Humane Society investigation of slaughterhouses in 2008, sought to regulate the treatment of “downed” animals, or animals who are too sick or weak to walk on their own.
The code required that “non-ambulatory” animals on their way to be slaughtered be humanely euthanized rather than forced to move.
The Humane Society investigation found that near-death animals were being forced to move by prodding, soaking and even bulldozing. To many of us, this type of cruelty is unfathomable, however it is too often par for the course in the mass production of meat.
The code, according to those who were in support of it, sought to round out the federal regulations regarding cruelty in slaughterhouses by creating more specific guidelines.
The federal guidelines currently in place leave the discretion to the federal inspectors as to which animals can recover and make it to the slaughterhouse, rather than euthanizing any and all struggling animals.
This is filed under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and prohibits any additional intervention by state government. Supporters in California, along with animal rights groups, supported the code claiming that it would support humane and moral treatment at a local level.
To say this judgment is disappointing would be an understatement. The challengers to California’s code were spearheaded by the pork industry.
According to Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, this is merely an example of the power the meat industry wields over politicians and regulatory bodies.
On the HSUS website you can read a response to yesterday’s decision.
My own personal response was first anger and frustration, then confusion and disbelief, then grief. I have never been able to reconcile acts of blatant cruelty towards helpless animals, and it saddens me that even in this age of education, opinion and communication, things like this are still happening.
What’s worse is that the remains of such acts are on dinner tables across the country and the world.
But what can I do. I am merely one person, choosing my vegetarian lifestyle, surrounding myself with other like-minded people, writing this for a like-minded website.
In the wake of such an industry win, what are we, the little animal-loving people, to do?
(Prepared by Hayley Samuelson)
Ame Wren is a yoga teacher, animal lover, occasional writer, red wine drinker and lover of all things vegetarian. Based in Boston, Ame spends her time teaching yoga and training others to teach it, pondering a second master’s degree and cooking for her friends. She has 3 boisterous and hilarious rescued dogs who keep her feet on the ground and remind her often that unconditional love is possible. Ame dabbles in blogging, travels often and longs for the day when she has time to pursue a doctoral degree. A nerd at heart, Ame owns far more books then she could ever read and is most at home in the library. She is honored to be posting on Elephant, one of her favorite and most visited sites. You can follow Ame on Facebook and Twitter or check out her website here.