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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From Animals in Print 24 November 2000 Issue:

Jessica's Journey


It has been three weeks since Mel and I decide to formulate our plan to save the steers from slaughter. We started by reading books on slaughterhouses and vegan diets. I also wrote to an on line AR newsletter, Animals In Print, and got information about a farm sanctuary that takes farm animals. Their purpose is to let all farm animals live out their lives naturally, safe and happy.  It is called Farm Sanctuary. The only problem, they were a rescue sanctuary and the four steers wouldn't qualify as an emergency. They were not rescued downed or abused animals. The slaughterhouse would be the steers abuse. Joy Boy, Clover Rover, Bird Watcher and Paddies would enter this place, the government's legal hell. A secret place where few truths are ever spoken.

Finally as prepared as possible, Mel and I confronted her father. I was the chosen spokesperson. I planned to use information I had accumulated while reading Slaughterhouse By Gail E. Eisnitz. Also the concerns I had accrued on the unhealthy aspects a meat centered diet had on human health.

So I began. I described to them in graphic detail the conditions of the slaughterhouse. I quoted directly from Slaughterhouse and from the book reviews. I thought when hearing this Mel's father would relent.

"Mr. Redds, "I pleaded. "Listen to this information. Is it fair to subject the steers to this horror?..."

* "The system pursues maximal speed and efficiency, driven by the quest for profit over concern with animals, workers, and the public health. A large percentage of the animals are not adequately stunned, and therefore are clipped, shackled, hoisted, hooked by the nose or anus, bled, dismembered, skinned, boiled, and ground up while still aware and alive. Animals are forced to endure up to a half-mile long trip through the slaughterhouse, and ten minutes of electric prodding, beating, and step-by-step dissection before they finally die."

"Those who get caught in the gate guards or the line have their legs or heads chopped or burned off. Often, workers grow angry and vent their frustrations on the animals, as they pummel them with lead pipes or gouge out their eyes, some making it a source of amusement. The so-called "Humane Slaughter Act," passed by Congress in 1958 but opposed by the USDA, is not enforced. Chickens and poultry animals have no law whatsoever protecting them, and violations of the law carries no penalties."

"Management does not care any more about workers than animals. The slaughterhouses employ the economically desperate, including many immigrants, legal and illegal. Working in a slaughterhouse is among the most dangerous jobs one can work. Workers often are badly cut as they try to kill an animal improperly stunned; their hands or arms get cut off in the machinery; hoisted animals fall on them; and they suffer various kinds of repetitive motion syndrome. They have little break time, and often are forced to urinate on the floor rather than leave their station. The routinization of death has dehumanized them, although some privately admit concern for the animals. Many are alcoholics and drug abusers, and bring their violence home to their families." (Quote:* Book Review From Steve Best)

I talked for about 15 minutes before Mel's father stopped me. "Girls," he said. "I have heard enough of this. I am sorry if you can't understand basic facts. Those steers can feed people. We have been raising steers for years and it isn't going to stop now. People need and want the meat. This is part of my livelihood and I use the money from the sides of beef I can sell. It is my pocket money."

"Mr. Redds," I argued," Meat isn't a proper food for humans. Look Mel and I are vegans now and we are in great health. Since I stopped eating meat I feel much better. Don't you know that one-fourth of the would is starving to death. That the grains you and other farmers use to raise steers could feed half the starving people in the world. That number is around 250 million people. These people are dying. They would live healthy full lives if they had the crops we feed to steers."

I continued, "Also meat is unhealthy. Our bodies cannot digest it properly, as we are not carnivorous. We don't have the proper stomach acid, our saliva is not adequate to begin the digestion process and our intestines are so long and convoluted the waste from meat does not leave our bodies soon enough. The meat actually putrefies in our intestines and is a leading cause of colon cancer. Meat causes heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, and"............before I could finish he interrupted me.

"That is enough Melanie," he snapped. "The steers are going to slaughter and that is that. They go in three weeks as planned and I don't want to hear another word from either of you girls! I hope I make that very clear!"

With that statement he walked from the room, slamming the door as he left. Mel and I were left very disheartened. All our hopes of saving the steers gone. We both stood there in silence for a moment. Aching hearts have few words.

Finally I spoke. I implored Mel to talk again to her dad. Hoping in time he would feel guilty and relent but it was no use. She was defeated and nearly in tears. I was a little disappointed in her but my resolve to save my Joy Boy was even stronger.

"Listen Mel," I said, "I am going home. I want to be alone. And with no more than a quick good-bye left the house.

I had a plan. This was one idea I had shared with no one. I would save my Joy Boy and no one could stop me. I began preparations immediately, time was running out.

That was two weeks ago and tonight I was ready to enact my plan. It was a simple enough idea. A couple of years ago I had discovered an abandoned shanty and shed.

It was a difficult area to access. First one must get pass Black Pond, a murky, treacherous area that held dire consequences for any that crossed its marshy shores in haste. Next the denser wooded and overgrown areas. Then more bogs and rough terrain's that would challenge the amateur as well as most skilled hikers

I had secretly and carefully explored all of this area. Familiar with it, I was certain I could lead Joy Boy to safe refuge. Here I would keep him alive. No one would find us.

I had spent the last couple weeks taking grains and hay to the shed. There was a pump and it was active, so we had water. The shanty had a fireplace, though living here in the South I doubted I would need its warmth.

I felt it would be easy to come back later to my home, get more provisions and return undetected. My plan seems flawless. My only challenge will be getting Joy Boy out of Mel's barn undetected.

I knew she and her family would be gone till late tonight. I must make my move now. My parents were now asleep and I placed my farewell note under my pillow. Now stepping out into the night I feel the adrenaline flowing. Joy Boy I am coming to save you.

I arrived here at Mel's in short time. I had brought with me some sneezing powder, left over from a joke we once played on our friends. I also have some coyote urine. I figured with both of these I could easily get rid of any dogs that might try and sniff out my scent or that of Joy Boys.

I am wasting no time. I secure Joy Boy with a lead, start down the road and then into the woods. I am sprinkling the coyote urine on the ground as I go. A little farther along the way I will sprinkled the sneezing powder. Surely this would discourage the search dogs which I was persuaded they would use to track us.

Now I am entering a shallow creek and walking its shores for a while. Joy Boy and I are entering and exiting the creek on different sides, going back and forth. Once more I sprinkled coyote urine. I am continuing this till I get to Black Pond.

Here at its edge I had to concentrate strictly on getting us passed the seductive shore lines. I found a large branch and am dragging it behind me, stirring up any footprints we are leaving. I am sure no one will find us. I had never told Mel about the shanty, fearing retribution. Had anyone known I had ventured so far away from home I would have been severely punished.

Finally passed the soggy edges of the pond I am beginning to feel a little frightened. The night seems unusually dark and the familiar landmarks obscure themselves. I hear strange noises and only my resolve to save Joy Boy keeps my panic under control. I have to go so slowly and finally reaching the shanty I see it took over five hours. I quickly placed Joy Boy in his new home and went out to fetch him get some fresh water.

I am exhausted yet exhilarated as I walk toward the direction of the pump. I am having a little difficulty locating it. The weeds obscure its rusted form.

OH! Oh my ankle,… my foot, what is that? Something has snapped tight around my ankle. I try to pull free and manage to trip forward and fall to the ground. I am caught, trapped by something. I feel it biting into my flesh. Oh.... What is it? I can feel I am bleeding.

I thrash on the ground. The pain is biting and I feel faint. I am really trapped, I can hardly move. I am desperately pulling myself up to see what is digging into my flesh so tightly.

Oh No! There it is: a trap. A large Leghold, Steeljaw trap. Oh my gosh, what can I do? I'm so scared. I had been warned about these dangerous things, but I never imagined I would step into one. Oh somebody,..... help me.

Okay, I have to calm down. Think...I got to get this thing off my foot.

I am going to try to open its jaws. Oh, it won't open.

If I can just get back to the shanty maybe then I can pry it opened and free myself. Looking around I see it is held down by a large cement slab. I try now to pull the chain from under it. Nothing. I put my other foot against the slab, slowly it moves. Desperate to be free, I am giving it one final hard shove.

Oh thank goodness! I did it! The chain pulled loose and I am able to move. I am trying to get up on my one foot but stumbled a few feet before falling again. This time I land on soft rotted pieces of wood.

As I am trying to once again to stand, the wood, rotted and old, is crumbling under my weight. I feel myself dropping down into some opening in the ground. I can't stop myself, I just keep falling...down...down....down.....+++ !

The abandoned dry well lets out a quiet sigh and all was still. Jessica, unconscious at the bottom, is seriously injured. The hideous steel jaw trap still clasped greedily around her ankle.

Joy Boy waits, but his beloved Jessica is not returning.....................


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