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March 14, 2008

Talk Back: Focus on Farm Animals

Since the release of The HSUS's investigation into the abuse of downed dairy cows at a California slaughter plant, readers have been encouraged by the attention being paid to the treatment of animals raised for food. Among the comments we've received:

This is a huge step forward for animals! By exposing the inhumane treatment of these poor "food" animals, The HSUS has put the issue smack-dab in the public's face, where it belongs. People who consume animal products need to be educated on how these creatures are treated—and this is a start. With better information out there, people may start making more informed and humane choices. Keep up the great work, HSUS. —Joan McKenna Van Rijswijk

I am so happy to see that the cruelty that is so rampant in the meat industry has been brought to light. I read one of the most important books this summer called "Slaughterhouse." It was a turning point for me. Of course animals have been abused for years at the hands of slaughterhouses. The whole meat industry is so scary. These are living, breathing, feeling beings. Shame on those who are supposed to care for these animals, but turn a blind eye in the name of the all-mighty buck. I did not watch the video, but saw a small clip on the news, and it brought me to tears. I watch the transport trucks go by with their loads of animals, and I can't stand it. I hope that more of the meat industry takes notice. We are watching you, and we are not going to stand for this horrible treatment of animals. Thank you HSUS for the eye-opening investigation, and for going to bat for animals. —Becky

I have been working as a volunteer collecting signatures for the humane treatment of farm animals initiative in California. I just wanted to let the investigator know that since that video went public, I have had many people tell me that what they saw on TV was so shocking to them that they are willing to readily support whatever measures will help mistreated farm animals, including our initiative. In other words, your hard work has already helped us help other animals. Thank you so much. —Sujatha Ramakrishna

Bless you Wayne for staying with this issue. I am so glad that most of the national media has shown portions of the video to the public. As horrific as these scenes are, people need to see how these innocent animals are treated. I pray that everyone who watched will remember that video when they are grocery shopping or dining out. —Barbara

People who like to believe that animals are well-treated in slaughterhouses are now being forced to face the truth of what brutality can happen in these places. This underground investigation could be the beginning of a more compassionate approach to livestock with ripple effects felt all over the world. As an animal lover and vegan, thank you HSUS. —Nellie Hill

Most Americans live in ignorance of how their food is supplied to their local grocery store. Luckily, we have The HSUS to expose cruelty and abuses faced by innocent animals who feel pain the same way we do. To be honest, I am not a vegetarian but I am seriously considering it and making small changes daily to move to a more compassionate diet. The HSUS needs to continue to expose these abuses and cruelty to mainstream America via the media. The more they can get the message out, the more change can happen. We all need to wake up to the enormity of the sacrifice farm animals make for us on a daily basis. They deserve the respect and dignity to be slaughtered in a humane, pain-free fashion. —John

As ethical vegans my husband I both thank you for this, and for all the work you do on the behalf of all animals. Your exposé is news that needs to be told in the mainstream media. Thank you too for your rebuttal of the industry claims that these are isolated incidents or that they are confined to that plant or confined to the beef industry alone. It is my hope now that people will start to question the meat industries and start to understand what exactly is behind the meat they buy and think about what they are participating in, and supporting with their purchase of it. In the end I hope that they will understand that compassion begins with what is not on your plate. —Stacy Thomas

Thanks HSUS for all your hard work! I am 28 and only became a vegetarian in October 2007 because of an HSUS forwarded email I received on horse slaughter. I have always loved animals, but like so many other people, I honestly was under the impression that eating meat, dairy, and eggs were fine and normal and the animals lived happy lives. Media does a good job portraying that image and mindset (like "Real California Cheese" Happy Cows, Chick-fil-a). I am so grateful for the work you do and getting the message out. The undercover footage and recall was horrible, but great work, although its very sad that the animals had to lose their lives that way. Keep up the good work. Your message is getting out! —Abbey

Readers have also written in to say how the recent investigation has provided a new awareness of farm animal suffering and caused them to reexamine their food choices:

I believe that this is a watershed moment in the fight for humane treatment of farm animals. As difficult as the video is to watch, it is necessary for people (not just animal rights people) to see what really happens. Animal torture (beyond abuse) happens all over the place. It is immoral to torture any animal. I believe that more and more people want animals to be treated humanely, and this video will prompt change in the farming industry. I am not against eating meat but I have decided that I will not eat meat unless I know that the animal was killed humanely, and I only support food establishments that share my philosophy. Thank you to The HSUS for exposing this and I know you will continue to make improvements for all animals. —Rosemary McDonnell

After viewing the video of the tortured cows in the slaughterhouse yard, I have finally committed to a vegetarian lifestyle. I had been thinking about it for sometime, but this video was what I needed to see in order to make the commitment! I cannot stand the thought of animals suffering miserably so that I can gobble down a cheeseburger. I have been meat-free since viewing the video! Thank you for exposing this torture. Your undercover man is doing a great service to all animals. I cannot even imagine how difficult his job must be. Keep up the good work! —M. Myers

My wife viewed approximately 20 seconds of the Chino, Calif. abuse video and was brought to tears. I personally had no idea abuse like this took place and as a result, we are seriously modifying our beef consumption practices. The only beef we intend to ever purchase again will come from a locally owned company that only sells organic and humanely treated animals. Thank you for the disturbing yet important information. A contribution has been sent to your organization. —Mike Haffling

I grew up seeing cows in the field. I have eaten beef without knowing how we treated the cows. I probably have eaten beef from cows that were mistreated like those in your report. Slowly I stopped eating beef as I realized the horror of cattle's life beyond the ranch, in the feedlot, through the slaughterhouse; I like to see cows in the field more than I used to. They're beautiful, they're peaceful, they're kind, they relax me. I want businesses to respect every animal. As if they were part of our family. It's a way to respect oneself, to love oneself and to live by the golden rule. I'm not against killing animals for human consumption. But cruelty shouldn't be part of the equation. Really, it doesn't have to be part of the equation; it's beyond any kind of understanding, any kind of meaning. It makes us go backward and away from our goals. It needs to be fought without mercy. I support your action wholeheartedly. —L

Every time I see a hidden camera investigation into the cruelty of animals being raised for food, I am one step closer to becoming a vegan! I have seen how chickens are treated at egg farms, chickens at a slaughterhouse, and now this disgusting video of these poor cows... I'm speechless. I am going to give a vegetarian lifestyle a shot again. I admit it is difficult, I enjoy meat, but I love animals more than I enjoy a steak. Animal rights organizations must keep up these hidden video investigations; this is only one cattle slaughterhouse that was "caught," how many haven't been caught. I do not mind the humane treatment and slaughter of an animal that is to be used as food, but if you can't promise me that a cow had a great life before it became my hamburger, then it's just not worth the gamble. There should be very strict laws regarding treatment of animals to be used for food, and there should be even stricter laws for those who abuse. —Julie Myers

After watching the Chino video, I have decided to stop eating beef, chicken and pork altogether. This video really opened my eyes as to what is happening to these poor animals. Although the beef industry "swears" that this does not normally happen, I really don't believe a word they say. It's like the circus industry saying that elephants are not intensively and inhumanely confined and yet every time someone gets a chance to videotape them, that is exactly what they do. The only way this treatment is going to stop is for people to stop engaging in activities where animals are cruelly treated, be it to stop eating meat or to stop going to circuses. I really appreciate your answer to the reader's questions about what we can do at the local level. —Maggie

I feel as if I've said this so many times, but it bears repeating: The HSUS has the mainstream attitude that makes it the animal protection charity I feel best about supporting, with no disrespect to the wonderful, vital and tireless efforts of many others. The "Three Rs" campaign is a perfect example of something an AVERAGE person can do, something that seems doable and would make a real difference. I don't believe killing for food is "wrong" per se, but given what eating meat means today, it has become wrong, for a host of reasons. In a perfect world it would be phased out completely. —Lorraine

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