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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 14 May 2002 Issue

The Underground Railroad

There is an underground railroad, and today I
wear a conductor's hat.  I drive the train.  Five
whimpering puppies are confined in crates in
the rear of my car.  They were destined to die,
unwanted and unloved, in a North Carolina
animal shelter.

On Thursday, I drove 12 hours to attend and speak
at the Southern Women's Conference in Raleigh. 
Yesterday, I drove through the night, aided by 4
quarts of caffeine-rich coffee, so that the four
border collie siblings and the cocoa-colored
Labrador pup with blue eyes would be free to live
as companions with their new human families. 
They would have been euthanized otherwise.

The collies miss the nurturing touch of their mother. 
I was told that she is dead, and I have no other
further details, but that they were weaned at five
weeks.  During the day they spent in my home, my
daughter, Lizzy, fell in love with the runt of the
litter who she named Bella.

It makes me sad to imagine the moments of deception
when animal shelter workers look into trusting eyes,
say a few gentle words to happy balls of fur with
wagging tails, and then end their lives with
injections of convenience.

I drive thinking of other conductors on this
underground railroad, which provides many
different means of transportation in the
journey to freedom.  There is a man by the
name of Brian Pease who attends law school.  He
gave up a few hours of his time and jeopardized
his future career when he was discovered in the
field near an animal research lab after a rescue
was conducted in the early morning hours. 

There is a woman named Nan Taska who is meeting
me a few hours from her home in Mystic, Connecticut,
and she will drive these pups to Plymouth,
Massachusetts, where they each have a new life
and a new family.  Nan selflessly sacrifices a full
day's pay by driving six hours so that these animals
can be free.  There is a woman in Rochester, New York
who gives up full weekends during hunting season
walking the woods, hours before dawn to hours after
dusk, warning the deer away from hunters' arrows
and bullets. 

There is a man in Chicago, named
Steve Hindi, who drives thousands of miles each
year in his $100,000 truck, which shows movie
screen-sized documentaries to fellow motorists and
pedestrians depicting the true tortures of bull
fighting, animal trapping, and farm factories. 
There is a couple, Lori and Gene Bauston, who have
two sanctuaries on either coast of the United States
for rescued farm animals.  These two heroes have
forgotten the word "sleep" and spend 365 days a
year fulfilling their all-consuming passion of
rescuing these animals.

The crying puppies remind me of a sound I once heard. 
There was a crying calf who had been separated from
his mother.  He was confined in a tiny, plastic shed,
and he was kept in the dark.  The animal could not move,
for if he did, the flesh in his legs would develop
sinuous muscle fiber and not be pleasing to the
palates of diners who would never be aware of
the calf's own anguish and torment. The cows are
made pregnant so that they can produce the milk
of human unkindness.

If everybody in America spent a minute or an hour
or a day recognizing that all animals feel pain
and experience joy and have rights not to be hurt,
could there possibly ever be human pain and suffering?
Could there ever be war?

Robert Cohen

Return to Animals in Print 14 May 2002 Issue

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