Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 28 July 2002 Issue
Printed in The Healthy Planet,
by Brenda Shoss
At first, I did not comprehend what I’d seen. As my husband and I traveled East on Highway 39-A just outside the town of Perry, New York, we saw rows of neatly arranged “dog house” structures. Outside each, a chained creature struggled to stand upon wobbly legs. “Oh my God,” I whispered. “We just passed a puppy mill.”
“No,” my normally unruffled hubby uttered. “I think those are veal crates.”
Before I could initiate Heavy Whining, he’d already turned our vehicle around to creep back for a closer look. With camera in hand, I bolted across a small field. At seven months pregnant, this was no easy feat. But something primal and maternal propelled me toward these fragile calves.
I was sure a crazed farmer would chase me off his property with a shotgun. But the scene remained eerily quiet. A Disney-esque sign defined the area as a dairy farm. To the right, heifers were immobilized in steel-bar stalls, to be continually impregnated for more efficient milk output. I knew that moments after birth, their male offspring would be loaded onto trucks bound for auction rings.
Every year about one million veal calves are chained to two-feet-wide crates so that their muscles never develop. They consume a diet intentionally deficient in iron and fiber to induce anemia and produce the white, tender meat called “fancy” or “milk-fed” veal. Most are crippled with leg and joint disorders. At 16 weeks, the sickly animals are slaughtered and processed as food for humans.
Though I’d viewed innumerable photos, nothing prepared me for the light warmth of a calf’s breath against my skin. I’d never seen their rubbery legs cave in. With each click of my camera, another shackled animal emerged from his igloo-shaped box and collapsed. A few lay motionless on their sides. Others gazed into my eyes. I wanted to comfort them, just as I soothe my dogs and cats when they’re afraid or sick. Newborns need to suckle. Would a worker gently bottle feed each animal?
I was baffled as to why any farmer would flaunt veal crates alongside a highway. I later learned that these calves may have been “replacement heifer females”—restrained calves used to replace “spent” dairy cows. Like veal calves, replacement calves are tethered for 16 weeks or more with no exercise. They are denied colostrum, the initial mother’s milk that fortifies their delicate immune systems. Sadly, their brothers slated for veal production suffer an even worse fate.
Veal crates are among our country’s most embarrassingly cruel intensive confinement systems. They are now banned throughout Europe. Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) has proposed legislation to regulate veal standards in
America. Bill H.R. 4415 would provide calves with ample space to turn around; with a diet adequate in iron; and with sufficient digestible fiber for calves over 14-days-old.
My proximity to these bewildered creatures still haunts me. As we departed, I
recalled the time I heard a woman refer to a dairy/veal industry video as “propaganda.” What my husband and I witnessed firsthand on August 22, 2000 was not a concept or promotional idea. It was fact.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1.) Encourage local restaurants that serve veal to no longer support this cruel industry.
2.) Boycott restaurants that serve veal. Let managers know you won’t dine at their establishment until veal items are removed.
4.) Contact Farm Sanctuary a non-profit organization dedicated to ending farm animal abuse through rescue and shelter efforts—also offers educational literature and posters about the veal trade.
P.O. Box 150
Watkins Glen, New York 14891
To find out who your legislators are: www.hsus.org/forms/search_reps.html
or call 202-955-3668. You can also locate legislators and government
department addresses at: http://www.congress.org/
~Animals do not suffer any less just because they
have no voice to speak the words~
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