Today I opened up a letter from Animal Place in Grass Valley, CA. It is a place of refuge for the lucky farm animals who make it there. The first lines of the message were appalling and sad:
"Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - Pregnant and scared...running for her life. Desperate to avoid the SUV chasing her, she trips and stumbles; surrounded and without escape, the pregnant mother is shot 11 times. She and her unborn are killed."
So, you may be relieved to find out that - it's only a cow, but for people like myself cows are God's creatures too and have basic needs like our own. This tragedy should never have happened, and even though she was trying to escape from a place of terror for herself and her baby, why was she killed? - gunned down like a criminal?
Well, I shouldn't have been too surprised to read where this very sad happening occurred - the California State Fair in Sacramento, CA. Though I have never been to a state fair or even a county fair - for me they are places of animal exploitation which I have come to know about through articles and pictures in the newspapers. I remember once years ago reading about an event probably called The Horse Pull in our Cuyahoga County Fair. It showed horses straining and pulling an unbelievable weight to see which team would win the prize for their owners. I hated that picture. I hated that event. And I wanted to shout out to the men who were urging the poor horses on - pull it yourselves.
And, of course, I find it so hard to believe that people think that the 4H clubs are wonderful experiences for young children. They are taught to nurture and care for an animal for months and then be happy if their animal is picked to be slaughtered? Wow. That to me is unbelievably sad, but I also believe many of the youngsters don't seem to much care as long as they get the coveted blue ribbon. I would rather teach my youngsters to love and respect animal creation. Yes, they would probably be vegans too.
So at this California Fair- an event was taking place that surprised and disappointed me and others who think as I do. Since I have recently been looking to California as a leader in our nation re the humane treatment of animals, in this instance, they surely let me down and anyone who respects animal life. Alma, the cow in question. was to be part of a live birth exhibit in which pregnant cows and pigs give birth in front of an audience. Wow again. What insensitivity. Even animals need space, quiet, and privacy at such a time.
Animal Place then describes her nightmare: "Alma, as we've taken to calling her (it means mother/nourishing) grew up on a dairy farm. A few days before she was scheduled to give birth, she was shoved into a metal trailer and transported to the State Fair.
Already under immense stress, she would then have to endure the screaming and gawking of curious onlookers. Moments before Alma was ready to give birth, she would have been dragged into an open arena surrounded with bleachers for fair-goers to observe the "miracle of birth."
When Alma was being moved in preparation for the live birth exhibit, she panicked. She wanted to be somewhere safe and quiet, not petrified in front of screaming fair-goers. So she bolted when she had the chance. And, instead of being treated with compassion, she was shot 11 times. Her death was drawn out and violent.
Her calf died in the womb, killed by the same bullets that murdered his mother."
I was appalled at how this poor mother cow's life played out. I was appalled by the insensitive people who dreamt up this idea of a "miracle of birth" exhibit. I was appalled at how no one even seemed to care about her fear at the prospect of having so much noise and witnesses at such a sacred moment in her life -when all she wanted was peace and quiet. But if Alma could hear me - I would tell that she was one brave cow. I would tell her -though she and her baby died in cruel circumstances that she would never again feel the cruelty of man. I would tell her that her baby boy would never be incarcerated in an iron mask veal crate for the next 18 weeks of his young life. I would tell her that she too would never suffer any more at the hand of man.
Animal Place included a petition to Norb Bartosik of the California State Fair Board asking him to end the live birth exhibit entirely. I gladly signed it. The last part of the petition read: "Any educational value is superceded by the overwhelming evidence that transporting pregnant animals and putting them on display jeopardizes their welfare and that of their offspring."
And dear Alma - if your death and the death of your calf will lead to the closing of the live birth exhibit- then know that neither of you died in vain. Hopefully, no other mother animals will suffer as did you.