I don't know how many of you out there follow the daily news, but if you do, you no doubt are aware of the newest in a long string of animal abuses caught on tape. This time, the culprit is Bettencourt Dairies, who have more than 60,000 cows, and is the largest dairy farm in Idaho. They supply milk to Schreiber Foods, who, in turn, is one of the companies who supply cheese products to Burger King.
The L.A.-based Mercy For Animals is the main group taking Burger King to task for the video. Their director, Nathan Runkle, accused the Miami-Dade based fast food chain of allowing a “culture of cruelty” at the farms it gets supplies from. He went on to state that “the secret ingredient in Burger King's cheese is horrific animal abuse.” And, of course, he is not wrong.
The video in question shows employees kick a cow in the face as blood drips from it's nose, along with a tractor dragging a fallen cow by a rope around it's neck across an absolutely filthy floor. Another employee jumps on the cow like it's a trampoline, and curses as he slams the cow's neck in a metal gate. All this while the cows are stuck in small pens, with broken limbs that make it impossible for them to move around without limping. (to see the video in full, go here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=422694244446808)
I wish I could say I was shocked by this video, but truth is, I wasn't. It's not the first to come out, and I daresay it won't be the last. Unfortunately, we live in a world that sees animals merely as a means to another dollar, with no regard for their lives, their suffering, or well-being.
Let's look at the articles that are deemed “more important” (based on placement in a google news feed). Items seen as more important include the Vice-Presidential debate, who the Peace Prize may go to in Europe this year, and an ultra-important article on why Justin Bieber likes to prank people so much. Now while the first may be more important (depending on how much truth you believe either side to be telling during a debate), and the second might be credible as news since the Peace Prize has been highly discussed for years, we can all agree that the third is not so. And, once the Peace Prize is given out and the election takes place, only one remains the top news story.
Which is not to say that we should grow despondent over this fact. I'm hoping it does the opposite. Instead of taking a “no one cares, so why bother” philosophy, let's take a “make our voice heard over the bullhorns of deceit” philosophy. Let's make the voices of animal lovers heard around the world, louder than the 12 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Let's make our issues important, if for no other reason than THEY ARE.
You want proof this can work? Bettencourt has already made changes, such as firing the employees in question (a dubious response at best, since I believe they aren't the only one's being abusive...just the only ones to get caught on tape), and installed video cameras in their facilities (though if they will be monitored, or even turned on, is up for question). Tyson foods has recently announced it will be doing an animal treatment audit of supplier's farms (for more, read here: http://argus-press.com/news/national/article_30194976-817f-5216-99f0-18dcef7e8b13.html). I don't know for certain if this is really an example of companies putting in time to help animals in their care, or a new way of deceit, by having supplier's conduct their own testing, in place of a governmental or other watchdog agency doing it.
Either way, it seems like some people are already listening. Now, just think of the changes we can make if we really bolster our efforts to be heard.