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Life Arts

Change

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Of course the only absolute next to death is CHANGE.  For me, as I imagine everyone else, it is a double-edged sword.  We can like change or absolutely hate it with shades of degrees in between.  I personally hate to see old venerable buildings demolished. In my opinion, we lose a piece of history each time this happens.  Recently, in my city a beautiful classic library with a cozy nook for the kids and a wonderful user-friendly reference room for adults was demolished for expansion needs. Now we have a huge cavernous building in its place where it is easy to get lost.  I believe it just really needed an extension to the older building with its wonderful history and beautiful architecture. 

My old school Harrison which held so many precious memories of growing up for us children of Slovak and other Eastern European extraction in the 30's and 40's has been demolished.  The historical society sadly saw no important or valuable history here, but guess what-that little 8-street tract named mostly for birds and called Birdtown has been designated as an historical site.  The old school should have remained. So much for "historical" societies and their dubious value.  

Now a change I approve.  Recently national TV exposed the shameful treatment of downed cows at the Chino, CA slaughter house where cows were being poked, prodded, and punched to move them into the slaughter line (one cow hobbled on her knees which must have been extremely painful for her).   And then the unimaginable, surprising, and unthinkable-- the USDA responded.  Years ago they probably would not have. You may think that the recall of the millions of units of beef from this slaughterhouse was overkill.  Did they do it because this slaughterhouse abused the downed cows?  No, they did it because there is finally a law passed by Congress which said that no meat from downed cows should be sold for food.

I so often knock Congress for not responding to pressing needs, for being unduly influenced by PAC contributions, and for stealthily adding on often frivolous expensive add-on amendments to bills which only benefit their states.  But in this case, I realize there are good legislators, who whatever their motives - passed the Downed Cow Act which forbade the use of downed cow meat. 

We who had agitated for this bill made known to us by animal organizations like Farm Sanctuary, Humane Farming, and others saw this as a way to stop the terrible suffering these innocent animals had to endure.  The slaughter house itself has its own terrible brand of suffering and Gail Eiznitz of Humane Farming wrote a book called "Slaughterhouse" which should be read by anyone who cares about animals.  I believe it was in this book that I became aware that some of the cows who are not properly stunned go through the line alive having their legs cut off and being skinned alive. I thank God everyday that I am a vegan.

Speaking of Farm Sanctuary, they revealed that the first downed calf that Gene Bauston rescued in 1990 has died.  This then young activist found "Opie" lying prone, sickly, and near death abandoned near a slaughterhouse.  Gene brought him home and nursed him until Opie became a fun-frolicking calf.  What a joy for Gene to see this turn around and only those who view animals as precious living beings like ourselves will understand his feeling.  (If interested, you can probably find this video at Farm Sanctuary's web site.) Opie (1990-2008) grew to be a beautiful huge bovine who visitors cautiously approached.  But they soon found that this "intimidating" cow was all heart -bigger than even his size.  One person mentioned that when we give the years of birth and death separated by a dash that it is the DASH which is the most important aspect.  I am happy that Opie's dash was filled with sunshine and love.

Today, since the factory farming system was ushered in during the Reagan administration, these poor cows, pigs, and chickens no longer enjoy any of it.  One day, please God, may these factory farms from hell disappear and once more the animals will be able to bask in the sunshine or enjoy the fresh air of grassy meadows.  Even pigs don't deserve to be slopped - they prefer clean water to mud given the choice to hydrate themselves.   We
are not kind, sensitive stewards.  Change is needed here.

Thankfully, animal cruelty laws are being upgraded to felony status in many states.  Sadly, Ohio is not one of them.  I remember in 1998 that one Ohio legislator sought to address this. I remember the bill number - Bill 108.  I remember being excited about this and I hoped to enlist the aid of the Catholic Cleveland School children to influence the legislators having
been a teacher in the Catholic school system years ago.  Since the diocese is far flung, I wouldn't have to write the various public school superintendents.  I told the Sister Superintendent that this was a wonderful opportunity to engage the middle school children in a multi-faceted learning experience.  If they would write their Ohio legislators they would experience skills in English, (letter writing) Civics (government contact), and Religion (compassion toward God's animals).

I will always be disappointed in her letter of refusal.  It must have been cordial - but compassionate and understanding it was not.  I hope she read about the recent case which I was grateful that one of our local TV stations filmed.  Near Cleveland, the Wiles Pig Farm used methods of addressing the problem of sick pigs and piglets in anything but humane ways.  They actually tossed the sick piglets around like footballs hoping to crush their skulls on the pavement or any hard surface.  The large pigs were hoisted up and hung. 

The case was brought before an Ohio judge who was irked by the "irrelevancy" of the case before him.  The defense even went so as far as Iowa to find a vet who would testify that hanging pigs was a humane way to kill them.  (We wrote the Iowa Veterinarian Board asking them to revoke his license).  Despite this, the prosecutor "won" the case. Sadly only a slap on the wrist was forthcoming. One of the sons of this pig farmer had to pay a small fine and I believe was given probation.  Unbelievable, but understandable in a state where in 1998 the Ohio legislature failed to upgrade Ohio's animal cruelty laws and this horrible treatment to these pigs who suffered so much was considered only a misdemeanor.  Thankfully, other states have upgraded animal cruelty to felony status.  Shame on Ohio.  Shame on all those who could have addressed this issue when they had a chance, but failed to do so.  I hope another compassionate Ohio legislator will, once again, introduce a much needed change to Ohio's animal cruelty laws.

 

I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
 
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