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By Annoula Wylderich, The Humane Dialogues
July 2012

Since I began learning about all the ways in which society exploits animals, I have changed. I donít look at any animal-derived products with ignorance anymore. Rather, I see and hear the suffering and screams of animals who are being skinned alive for their fur or skin. I see chimps, rabbits, rats, and dogs being confined and restrained while being experimented upon for cosmetics and household products; the invasive procedures which they are subjected to, without any pain relief, cause them intense agony. I see their open, gaping wounds and hear their whimpers and cries.

When I go to the supermarket and pass by the meat department, I no longer see pork chops, ground meat, drumsticks or fish fillets. I see body parts of other beings who once had lives that they valued as much as I value my own. I see cows who are butchered and hacked apart piece by piece, while they are still alive. I see the pigs who are immersed into the scalding tanks, kicking and squealing. . .or the chickens who are dumped into the de-feathering tanks head first in the boiling water. I see animals who live their entire lives in misery, fear, abuse and deprivation. . .only to be rewarded in the end with a brutal slaughter.

If I see circus ads or other forms of animal-based entertainment, I am reminded of the incredible cruelty that is perpetuated upon these unwilling beings who would much rather be roaming in their natural habitats with their families. . .than tied to a post for up to 20 hours a day, receive regular beatings and be forced to stand on their head. I remember Stoney, the elephant who was hurt during a circus performance in Las Vegas, and was left behind in a dumpster in back of one of the hotels. He languished for a year before anyone tried to get him out (you read correctly). I wondered how anyone could live immobilized like that for a year. Find out how they ďtook careĒ of him at http://animalrights.about.com/od/saddestshow/a/StoneyDeath.htm. In the end, he died from his injuries while being hoisted out of that metal coffin.

When I am hiking outdoors or walking my dog through the woods, I think about all the animals who end up in painful traps Ė including pets who accidentally happened upon one of these torture contraptions. So many animals have suffered horribly, many attempting to chew off their own foot to get away. Exposed to starvation, dehydration, the elements, and predators, they died slow agonizing deaths. In many instances, the hunters didnít even bother to check their traps for days, further prolonging the suffering. Some of these animals left behind cubs and pups, who were unable to fend for themselves. . .collateral damage.

I have to wonder why we allow this travesty and betrayal of animals to continue. And then, I am reminded of myself before I became aware. Most good people do take action, once they learn what has been kept from them by those industries that commit brutality against animals. Some folks become part of the animal protection movement, while others simply do their part by the purchasing and dietary choices they make.

The fact is, we are all connected to one another and to the many other species with whom we share the earth. The way we treat one another says alot about who we are. If we are willing to show compassion to ourselves and those we love, then why not extend that to all other living beings who are a part of this life. This seemingly small gesture makes a big statement about our evolution as human and spiritual beings.

We can all help in the effort to alleviate the suffering of defenseless, vulnerable and unprotected beings by:

Adopting Meatless Mondays Ė avoid all animal products (including eggs and dairy) for just one day a week. Go for two or more, if you really care about your health, the environment, and saving animal lives.

Donít buy or wear any animal-derived fashions.

Donít patronize entertainment that relies upon animals in captivity or their performance.

Donít support companies that produce household or personal products based upon animal experimentation.

Adopt, rather than shop for a companion animal.

Report any form of animal cruelty.

Do the research yourself at the websites of organizations such as HSUS, PETA, In Defense of Animals, Mercy for Animals, PCRM, Farm Sanctuary, or Born Free USA. Sign up to receive their newsletters and email alerts for petition signing.

I appreciate the opportunity to share information with you and to welcome you to a cause that is so worthy of your time and attention.

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