Talk Back: Systemic Cruelty

By on February 22, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

As reaction to The HSUS’s investigation at Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. and news of the massive recall of beef from the plant continues to reverberate, readers continue to write in. Among the comments we received:

Thank you to The HSUS for all your hard work with the investigation of Hallmark. I am sickened to the very core. I don’t understand how heartless and cruel people can be. To torture an animal for our own greed is a disgrace to mankind as a whole. Thank you HSUS, I know these videos you tape must be difficult but it’s the only way to get the point across. People would not believe it unless they saw it with their own two eyes. You are awesome! All of you! Thanks for all you do! —Lisa White, Massachusetts

In a world where we often feel powerless to enact change, I am truly inspired by the Humane Society’s efforts to bring the conditions at Hallmark to light. Hats off to activists everywhere!!! —Kath

I’d like to pass along a personal thank you to the brave souls doing your undercover work. What a horrible job, and how devastating for those doing it. Thank you for taking on such a huge burden for the benefit of all. Where would any of these animals be if you weren’t brave enough to witness, document, and expose their terrible suffering? How else could we collectively call on the world’s better nature to acknowledge and stop the multiple forms of cruelty we carelessly inflict on other species? Bless each and every one of you for the compassionate work you do. Thank you so very, very much. —Leslie McLean (and Hank and Ol’ Brown), Seattle, Wash.

I second (third, fourth, fifth) all the comments posted about the heroic nature of people who are willing to go in and document these types of abuses. SO important to put a “face” on these issues and to put it out there in the public, in the media, for all to see—the greatest path to change in my opinion. So many people I know are not even aware of these issues/abuses—once they are informed (and view), they are horrified and want to do something to create change. Heart wrenching enough to see in video and read about… in person, I can’t even imagine. It is sick the way our society treats farm animals. These animals are sentient beings just as we are, and deserve respect and care. I applaud The HSUS and investigators for the work you do! Amazing! —Cari L.

I just made a contribution to Humane Society Undercover; it was a small amount but I’m a senior citizen living on a fixed income and sometimes it’s very hard to stretch my dollars as far as I’d like to. I saw your investigation on the slaughterhouse and it broke my heart. As a little girl (that’s many years ago) we had a cow that was so beautiful and she was like a pet to me. I cannot understand how anyone can be so mean as to treat any animal badly. Thank you so much for making this known to the public. —Wanda McMillion

I am SO proud to be a member of The HSUS! It seems as though every month you are making people aware of the horrors that happen to innocent animals in this country. Keep up the good work—it’s making a difference when every news program I turn to leads with the slaughterhouse story. People have to listen. —Janet, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Congratulations on your outstanding exposé. You have focused the attention of the American public not only on inhumane animal practices but also on human risk exposure. The CJD Foundation and the patients and families we represent wished to offer our gratitude to Mr. Pacelle and the Humane Society for your dedication and fine work. —Florence Kranitz, president, CJD Foundation

THANK YOU HSUS for standing up for animals who (literally) cannot stand for themselves. This story literally made me sick; I cannot watch the videos, though I think everyone in America who eats beef should watch them. Stories like these make me sorry to live in this society. Thank you guys for doing the hard work and helping animals. —Liz Harrison

Kudos to The HSUS for calling attention to the atrocities that are not just going on at this one particular meat packing plant, but surely at most if not all of them. One very sad aspect of this incident is that while the media does disclose that animal abuse was a factor in recalling the meat, it seems as if the largest concern is over human health (which of course is very important as well). It seems that Americans are so desensitized that they are not really upset about the "downer" cows being abused, but more so that illness in humans may occur. —Megan Ryan

Thank you… to everyone who is making the situation at the Hallmark meat packing plant a public focus. It is so important that people see what is happening to animals behind closed doors. These animals deserve better, and as humans we need to become more compassionate to each other, and all living things. Oh the irony of the California happy cow commercials… —Jessi

Readers also responded to two comments posted to the blog that criticize the investigation:

I cannot believe that God intended, when he provided animals for sustenance for humans, that humans would behave in such deplorable ways to not only torture the animals at their mercy, but put other human lives at risk. Only a person without soul or conscience could do day after day what these workers did to these animals. The sadness in my heart to see the eyes of these animals, the defeat and exploitation. I pray that God will right these wrongs and allow more people to not ignore and become aware, even active, in the fight against this horrible cruelty. I am sure there are many dairy farmers who do handle their animals with care; they should be applauded. But whether it is one cow or 10,000 cows, they are living beings with souls and purpose, and not one single creature should be treated such as this. Thank you to The HSUS and the investigator who braved the horror to make this known—thank you! —Amy Knickel

These farmers with the contrary response mention that this is not the norm and why should The HSUS focus on the small number of incidents. I’ll tell you exactly why: because ANY instance of abuse is one instance too many. If The HSUS and other animal protection organizations didn’t look into these instances, it would be more than just a few random or isolated situations—it would be running rampant. —K. Copeland

My response is to Lewis and Cody. Animal abuse can happen in all slaughter facilities. Those employees are focused on getting the job done, not providing medical care to injured or sick animals. And this is not an isolated incident. If it was isolated, passing and enforcing laws to remove downers from the food chain would be easy. I believe there are plenty of educated people out there that understand that farmers and slaughterhouses are separate entities. So while a farmer may practice humane care there is no guarantee that the slaughterhouse employees will as well. I personally would not consider tying a cow’s broken pelvis together so the farmer may use her up an example of humane treatment. I’ve witnessed abuse at auction houses, long before the animal ever gets to the slaughter facility. The forcing of an animal that cannot stand on its own to the kill box will always be abusive. And these two men are forgetting the very important fact that a downer may carry a disease that can be transferred to humans. With the potential of passing diseases to humans, one isolated incident of abusing downed animals through slaughter is one too many! Thanks to the investigator, HSUS, and to the press for making this public. "Out of sight, out of mind". —Pat

If this happened at one slaughterhouse, it is too many. You who are farmers and have cattle should be outraged that this company used these methods and was caught red-handed abusing animals, instead of focusing on the "good" slaughterhouses and claiming isolated incidents. This wasn’t one day. This was documented over six weeks. Yes, there are downer cows very often. It is what was done with THESE downer cows that was appalling. It is pathetic to defend and somehow condone these acts in any way. Just pathetic. —Margaret Bunce

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Farm Animals

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