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Canned Hunting in the US

Canned hunting in the US

Blood Lions

Captive hunting operations, often referred to as “canned hunts” or “game ranches,” are private trophy hunting facilities that offer hunters the opportunity to kill animals trapped within fenced enclosures. Many of the animals killed are threatened or endangered species. There are more than 1,000 captive hunting operations in 28 American states, and over 500 in Texas alone.

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Orangutan Mothers

Orangutan Mothers

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Mother orangutans live with their babies until the offspring reach about seven or eight years of age — longer than any other mammal except humans. They are among the most solitary of the great apes, but the bonds with their young are incredibly strong. In fact female orangutans are known to “visit” with their mothers until they reach their late teens.

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Chicken and eggs

Chicken and Eggs

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“I only eat chicken and eggs”. For years before I went vegan I said this to people, as if a chicken was an inferior animal. Chickens are undoubtedly the most mistreated animal on the planet. Farm animals in general have very few rights, but even the most basic rights afforded to them in the United States often do not apply to chickens. The Humane Slaughter Act, The Animal Welfare Act and the Twenty-Eight Hour Law all exclude chickens. In fact there are no laws that regulate the breeding, sale, rearing, transport or slaughter of chickens.

The Humane Slaughter Act was designed to minimize the suffering of animals during slaughter at USDA inspected slaughter plants, requiring that they are stunned or sedated before being killed to minimize their pain. The Animal Welfare Act is the only Federal Law that regulates treatment of animals with minimum standards of care. The Twenty-Eight Hour Law requires that animals be provided water, food and rest after twenty eight hours during transport to slaughter. All of these laws exclude chickens from their protections.

Each year approximately 9.5 billion chickens are killed in the US for their meat. Almost all meat chickens, called “broilers”, are raised on factory farms, where they are housed in large sheds of 20,000 chickens or more. The chickens live crammed together on the shed floor in their own waste where the high ammonia levels irritate and burn their eyes, throats and skin. Factory-farmed broilers grow unnaturally fast and disproportionately large due to genetic modification, excessive feeding, hormones and inadequate exercise. Their breasts grow abnormally large while their skeletons and other organs lag behind. Most have trouble breathing while many others suffer heart failure, leg weakness and chronic pain. Many cannot support their own weight and their legs break under the weight of their bodies.

Factory-farmed broilers grow unnaturally fast and disproportionately large due to genetic modification, excessive feeding, hormones and inadequate exercise

Hens used for egg production and raised for meat are horrifically abused their entire lives. Because male chickens (roosters) born in egg production hatcheries don’t lay eggs and are not used in the meat industry (usually genetically modified ‘broiler’ chickens are used for chicken meat), they are killed the day they are born. Within hours of their birth, they are ground up, electrocuted, or gassed to death. Over 250 million male chicks are killed in the United States every year. The vast majority of female chicks, on the other hand, spend their entire lives in tiny wire ‘battery’ cages, never once stepping outside or feeling the earth beneath their feet. Battery cages commonly hold 5–10 chickens, with each hen given minimal space in the encaged area to live her entire life. Because the lack of stimulation and cramped conditions of the cages create tension and stress between the hens, they are debeaked at a young age before entering the cage. A portion of their beaks is seared off with a burning hot blade so they will not injure the other hens or themselves. The hens live their entire lives standing on a wire floor and rubbing against the cage, causing severe feather loss and debilitating bruises and abrasions. Because the cages are organized in rows placed on top of one another, the waste of the chickens continually falls on the chickens below. The facilities are filled with the putrid smell of urine and excrement. Despite her natural life-span being ten years or more, as soon as a hen in a factory farm begins to decrease her egg-laying output she is killed. This normally happens between one or two years of age.

Chickens, whether they are raised for meat or eggs, lead short horrific lives and deserve to be treated better. Consider taking them off your plate and not contributing to their misery.

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Harp Seals

Harp Seals

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Harp seals can dive as deep as 1,500 feet, and stay underwater for up to 15 minutes at a time. They are renowned for their stamina and are known to swim over 2,500 miles during the course of a year.

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Animals and Language

Animals and Language

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The first step in respecting animals and being kind to them is through our speech. It is amazing how common and ingrained their mistreatment is in our everyday language, slang and vernacular. The list is endless but here are a bunch of words and phrases that come to mind…

  • treated like an animal
  • worked like a dog
  • what an ass
  • what a cow
  • scapegoat
  • stop being catty
  • what a pig
  • kill two birds with one stone
  • sick as a dog
  • chickened out
  • I’m not a guinea pig
  • bullshit
  • stop monkeying around
  • blind as a bat
  • what a weasel
  • fat pig
  • ratted me out
  • what an animal
  • running like a chicken without a head
  • bully
  • stop badgering me
  • bird brain
  • vermin
  • a sitting duck
  • stop horsing around
  • ape shit
  • what a snake
  • don’t be a chicken
  • bat shit crazy
  • stop bugging me
  • acting like an animal

Let’s start changing how we refer to animals in conversation. Proper treatment and respect starts with our words.

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Namibian Seal Hunt

Namibian Seal Hunt

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Each year in southern Africa, the government of Namibia authorizes the killing of 85,000 Cape fur seal pups for their pelts, and 6,000 Cape fur seal bulls for their genitals, which are considered aphrodisiacs in different parts of Asia. The pups are killed for their fur and blubber, but the main reason is to keep the seal population down, because they eat too many fish, particularly hake. Hake is Namibia’s most lucrative fish and one of Spain’s most popular seafood, and Spanish companies off the coast pressure the African nation to allow them to catch more. Unfortunately for the Cape fur seals, they are considered competition.

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Pig Factory Farms

Pig Factory Farms

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Life for pigs on factory farms is a living hell. Each year in the US approximately 120 million pigs are killed for food, with the overwhelming majority of them raised indoors on factory farms. They are kept in intensively cramped and overcrowded conditions, and many never experience fresh air and sunlight until the last days of their lives when they are transported to slaughter. Female pigs or “sows” are artificially inseminated repeatedly, and often moved when pregnant to gestation crates, where they can barely move. These tiny crates are banned in nine states, and are extremely inhumane. They contain no bedding materials, and are usually floored with slatted plastic, concrete or metal to allow their waste to fall below. Several days before giving birth they are moved to farrowing crates, which are only slightly larger so they can lay down.

Their babies are born into a world of unimaginable cruelty. Within days of birth, their teeth are clipped so they don’t damage their mothers teats or injure their siblings, often leading to injuries, inflammation and abscesses. They are then subjected to tail docking, which is the cutting off of the ends of their sensitive tails, to prevent tail biting of other pigs. This behavior is common as the pigs are bored and stressed in the packed overcrowded enclosures. Tail docking is extremely painful and often leads to infections. Soon after they are subjected to ear notching (for identification purposes), and male piglets are castrated within 14 days. This is done to prevent ‘boar taint, which is the undesirable smell and odor of uncastrated male pig meat. It is also done to reduce aggression. It is important to note that all of these procedures are routinely done without any anesthesia or pain relief, and that they often lead to injury and infections.

Sick and injured piglets, as well as the runts of the litter that are smaller and will not generate significant profit, are killed. They are most commonly killed by PAC (Pounding Against Concrete) a practice that is as horrible as it sounds. It literally means holding a baby piglet by the hind legs and smashing it against the concrete floor to kill it. This causes massive head trauma, and results in death, although it’s not always instantaneous. Furthermore it is done right in front of the mother and siblings. Shockingly this practice is so commonplace that it is one of the suggested euthanasia methods listed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) for piglets. On the USDA official government website under “AVMA Guidelines for Euthanasia of Animals:2020 Edition” under M3.4 “Manually Applied Blunt Force Trauma To The Head”, they do recommend using other methods, but list the below as advantages and disadvantages to this heinous form of euthanasia.

They are most commonly killed by PAC (Pounding Against Concrete) a practice that is as horrible as it sounds

Advantages(1) Blunt force trauma applied manually to the head is inexpensive and effective when performed correctly. (2) Blunt force trauma does not chemically contaminate tissues.

Disadvantages(1) Manually applied blunt force trauma is displeasing for personnel who have to perform it. (2) Repeatedly performing manually applied blunt force trauma can result in personnel fatigue, loss of efficacy, and humane concerns. (3) Trauma to the cranium can damage tissues and interfere with diagnosis of brain diseases.

While the entire list of advantages and disadvantages is shocking, I am still stuck on the first disadvantage, that it is “displeasing for personnel who have to perform it”. There is absolutely no regard for these animals as feeling sentient beings.

As they get older they are pumped with hormones to make them grow faster, and antibiotics, as the farms are rife with disease. The crowded, unsanitary conditions and elevated level of ammonia from the urine and excrement make for an environment prone to bacteria, viruses, and other airborne illnesses. Furthermore they exhibit many behavioral problems as a result of stress and extreme confinement.

Pigs on factory farms are born into a dark world with unimaginable pain and suffering inflicted upon them throughout their short lives. The procedures they endure are traumatic and frightening. They are taught to fear humans from the day they are born, and never see the light of day until they are slaughtered.

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Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
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Shelter dogs killed in the US

Shelter dogs killed in the US

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Half of all shelter dogs dogs killed in the US are from Texas, California, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Literally five states kill half of all shelter dogs in the country.

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Wet Markets

Wet Markets

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Live Animal Markets are markets where animals are killed on site. They are often called “wet markets”, although wet markets are technically marketplaces that sell any perishable foods, including meat, fish, fruit and vegetables. Not all wet markets sell live animals. The live animal markets are often referred to as “wet” because of the wet floors from melting ice, spilled water from tubs of live fish, and the blood and bodily fluids of animals killed on the premises. These markets exist all over the world, but are extremely popular in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They provide fresh meat for many people in poor rural isolated areas, but are also popular in cities and more populated regions, because many sell exotic, rare and wild species which are considered delicacies, or species that are believed to have medicinal properties. These markets are unsanitary and usually completely unregulated, and are breeding grounds for disease. The SARS outbreak of 2002-2004 and Covid-19 are both widely believed to have originated from live animal wet markets.

The animals sold at these marketplaces are kept in tightly cramped cages or stalls, with no regard for their treatment and welfare. Farm animals are shipped from factory farms on trucks and packed into tiny vending stalls. Wild animals sold in markets are sometimes captive born, but are usually captured from the wild. Species of all different kinds are kept in small overcrowded cages next to other species, and sometimes mixed together, all in close proximity to humans. The markets are filthy, often fly infested, and the distressed animals are often sitting or standing in their own feces and urine, often without access to food or water. The animals are butchered right on the premises in these inhumane open markets, often without any gloves, and with knives that have been used on other species. All types of animals are sold at these markets, including many endangered species that are illegally sold. Wild animals commonly sold for slaughter at the markets include birds, fish, rats, pangolins, bats, turtles, snakes, deer, porcupines, hedgehogs, crocodiles, marmots, civets, monkeys, badgers, lizards, wolf pups, peacocks and scorpions. Domestic animals include chicken, ducks, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, turkeys and rabbits. The markets are full of bacteria and parasites, and are a threat to public health.

Many people believe that these markets only exist in Asia, but don’t realize that these markets exist throughout the world. In fact over 80 live animal wet markets are operating in New York City alone, despite the New York State on Pause Executive Order. The majority of the markets in New York sell chicken and poultry, but many also sell live goats, sheep, cattle and rabbits for slaughter. They are located in busy residential neighborhoods, and pose a significant health and safety risk, as they are unsanitary and poorly regulated.

In fact over 80 live animal wet markets are operating in New York City alone

The conditions in these markets are ideal for the spread of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases originating from an animal that can infect humans. In fact 75% of new infectious diseases affecting humans originated in animals. In addition to SARS and Covid-19, HIV, Ebola, avian flu, swine flu and many others are all known to have originated from animals. The risk for these diseases is particularly dangerous as animals of mixed species are cramped together in unsanitary conditions in close proximity to humans. Many people mistakenly believe that the majority of diseases come from wild animals when in fact avian flu, swine flu, anthrax and mad cow disease, as well as many other zoonotic diseases, have come from domesticated farm animals.

It is clear that all wildlife and live slaughter markets need to be banned to avoid another pandemic, but it is a complicated issue. Many low income people throughout the world rely on these markets for income. It is also their source for fresh meat, which cannot reach many people in poor remote areas otherwise. Alternatives need to be created for these communities.

There is currently a huge push to get these markets closed worldwide. China recently put a temporary ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals for food, but wild animals used for traditional medicine are exempt. After the SARS outbreak, wildlife markets were temporarily restricted but resumed after the threat subsided. In July Vietnam shut down markets where illegal wildlife was being sold, and put a temporary ban on the import of wild animals. In the United States The Global Wildlife Health and Pandemic Prevention Act was introduced by Senators Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, to end the sale of high-risk wildlife species in live animal markets for human consumption. The Act, if passed, would require the U.S. government to identify and shut down live wildlife markets around the world that pose risks to public health, leveraging international diplomacy to close these high risk markets. But the country has a lot of work to do before looking overseas, as the U.S. is the world’s largest importer of wildlife. In New York Bill # A.10399/S.8291 has been introduced by Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Luis Sepúlveda to shut down the live animal slaughter markets and prevent new operational licenses from being issued. In addition to new legislation being passed throughout the world, the United Nations and the World Health Organization need to step in as it is clear that wild animal markets, wildlife trade and live animal slaughter markets need to be banned as they are an immediate threat to public health and safety worldwide.

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Live Export is Cheaper

Live Export is Cheaper

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

It is often cheaper to live export animals on ships than it is to use refrigerated meat transport. The money saved is at the expense of immense suffering for the animals, with zero regard for their welfare, or the potential spread of disease.