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Downer Dilemma: Americans Need to Speak Out

Click here to read an Associated Press Article About the Latest Atrocities

Here’s Program Director Andrew Gunther’s response:

It never ceases to amaze me the depths human beings will go to.

Footage released this week exposed downed cows being repeatedly shocked with electric prods and dragged while still alive at an auction facility in Portales, New Mexico. This follows closely on the heels of another welfare-related investigation in Chino, California, which led to the largest beef recall in history.

Regarding the most recent incident in Portales. The auction manager stated that there were policies in place to prevent such abuses from occurring. If these are his policies, I suggest he be immediately removed from his post. This is the type of deeply entrenched indifference that allowed the most recent horrors to occur under the watch of New Mexico brand inspectors, none of whom spoke out against it.

Most meat-eaters in America would not be willing to kick a cow in the head repeatedly or drag it by forklift until its hind leg was hyper-extended. Most meat-eaters in American would not be willing to use an electric prod on a cow too weak to rise. But they will unwittingly pay someone else to do it. That is what keeps ground beef at $3.59 a pound, and that is what prompts auction houses and slaughter facilities to handle as many animals as possible-and not as humanely as possible.

Patrick Boyle, President of the American Meat Institute, called the treatment “inexplicable.” I would disagree. When workers are trained in an environment that values total pounds processed over animal welfare, and when enforcement of existing regulations is spotty at best, it is easy to see how this could happen. Bad becomes normal, and it takes a public outcry for these all-too-common abuses to be reexamined.

I have seen some horrific things. But I have never seen anything as inhumane as the American meat industry. We are allegedly a “developed” nation, however we treat our animals in a way that would horrify many in the third world. We have the chance to change this and I believe we can.

While we wait patiently for the meat industry and the USDA to regulate themselves, consumers have another option. There are farmers in every region who treat their animals with humanity and care. Seek them out and show them that conscientious farming is valuable, to the animals and the consumer.

You can make a difference.

Andrew Gunther
Program Director
Animal Welfare Approved

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