In a Montana slaughterhouse some years ago, a black Angus cow awaiting execution suddenly went berserk, jumped a five-foot fence, and escaped. She ran though the streets for hours, dodging cops, animal control officers, cars, trucks, and a train. Cornered near the Missouri river, the frightened animal jumped into its icy waters and made it across, where a tranquilizer gun brought her down. Her “daring escape” stole the hearts of the locals, some of whom had even cheered her on. The story got international media coverage. Telephone polls were held, calls demanding her freedom poured into local TV stations. Sensing the public mood, the slaughterhouse manager “granted clemency” to the “brave cow”. Now called Molly, she was sent to a nearby farm to live out her days grazing under open skies—which warmed the cockles of many a heart.
Cattle trying to escape slaughterhouses are not uncommon. Few of their stories end happily though. In Omaha some years ago, six cows escaped at once. Five were quickly recaptured; one kept running until Omaha police cornered her in an alley and pumped her with bullets. The cow, bellowing miserably and hobbling like a drunk for a few seconds, collapsed and died on the street in a pool of blood. This brought howls of protest, some from folks who had witnessed the killing. They called the police’s handling inhumane and needlessly cruel.
It is tempting to see these commiserating folks as animal lovers—and that’s how they likely see themselves—until one remembers what they eat for dinner. A typical slaughterhouse in America kills over a thousand Mollys a day—lined up, shot in the head, and often cut-open and bled while still conscious, an end no less cruel and full of bellowing—all because Americans keep buying neatly-packaged slices of their corpses in supermarkets. Raised unnaturally and inhumanely, over a million protesting birds and mammals are violently killed in the U.S. every hour (that’s 300 per second!). Is it then unreasonable to say that nearly all meat-eaters in America participate quite directly in a cycle of suffering and cruelty of staggering scale?
By Namit Arora, more at 3 Quarks Daily here.