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By Jenny Moxham
The brutal killing of defenseless animals at Bellarine Secondary College is totally reprehensible but are we as a society somewhat to blame?
What lessons in kindness do we teach our children?
We sever chicks' beaks with red hot blades and confine them — 80,000 to a shed — in wire cages so small they can't even stretch their wings. We deprive them of sunshine, fresh air, grass under their feet and dust to bathe in.
We imprison other chickens — broilers — in stinking, dimly-lit sheds that typically hold up to 64,000 birds. Here they suffer from burns from the ever-accumulating, ammonia-laden litter they are forced to lie in.
We selectively breed them to grow rapidly which then causes them to become cripples since their little legs can't keep pace with their rapidly growing bodies.
Many crippled birds die slowly of thirst and starvation. Broilers suffer, too, from respiratory ailments and heart disease and all are in chronic pain by the time they reach slaughter weight at six weeks of age.
Mother pigs we lock in narrow, body-hugging pens in which they can't even turn around. They become lame from standing all day on hard concrete and they have nothing to relieve their boredom apart from chewing on the metal bars.
We continuously and forcefully, impregnate them and when their babies are born we deny them their right to touch or nurture them. We painfully sever their piglets' tails and castrate them without anaesthetic.
We castrate calves in a similarly painful and cruel way, and one million of them we send to be slaughtered in the first few days of life so that we can take their milk for ourselves.
Without pain-killers, too, we cut away the skin from sheep's backsides with shears, and we rob them of their fleece. Each year in Australia, one million die of exposure in the first 30 days after shearing.
We trick fish into swallowing barbed hooks then drag them, suffocating from their watery homes. Others we drag from the oceans in nets, causing them to die from both suffocation and the weight of their fellow victims.
Lobsters and other crustaceans we slowly boil to death.
Each year in Australia we cruelly experiment on six million animals. We burn, freeze, scald, drown, blind and concuss them. Despite the fact that tests on non-humans cannot safely be applied to humans —thalidomide was a prime example — we continue to kill millions in the name of medical research.
We lock other animals up in zoos and circuses in the name of entertainment. For recreation we blast ducks out of the sky with shotguns, maiming and killing them — and we cruelly kill gentle deer with bows and arrows.
If we are horrified by the killings at Bellarine Secondary College, perhaps we should think about whether we, too, are guilty of inflicting needless pain and suffering on innocent animals.
Letter to the editor, published in the Geelong Advertiser, August 2008, in response to an article about the brutal butchering of pet guinea pigs and a rabbit at Bellarine Secondary College.
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