I also know that a few of you have mentioned that you or your husbands have been hunting lately and I want you to know that I actually think hunting is the next-best-thing to being a vegetarian! What do I mean by that? Well, most people buy their meat in a grocery store and are really, really distanced from how their food goes from being a living creature to a yummy meal. Not so with hunters! You guys see your meat up close and personal. Not only do you pull the trigger (or pluck the bow or whatever), but you also haul the carcass and often dress it too.
I grew up a meat eater. My grandparents had a farm and all the kids helped with butchering. I have plucked chicken feathers from dead chickens (don't squeeze it or it will poop on you!) and cut beef from the bone to be turned into hamburger. I also watched my beloved Boppie step on the chickens' heads ("Mama? Why does Boppie step on the chicken's faces?") to butcher them and walked by the dog house to notice a hog's head in his dog dish. I remember droplets of blood dripped on the patio as the women carried the dead, headless chickens from the barn yard to do the plucking. While these things made an impression on me, they aren't the reasons I became a vegetarian.
When I was 18 I went to work for the local animal shelter. I was looking for a clerical job and this was one of several that I applied for. Right after I started working, I was called for an interview by Tyson Chicken. Imagine how different things might have been if I'd taken the job there! But I digress. I took the animal shelter job and entered a world I didn't know existed. A world where animals are abandoned, lost, abused and discarded. It affected me profoundly. There are shelters in nearly every city and county across this country and around the world. Thousands, millions of companion animals pass through them each year. The people working there do their best to care for the animals, unite them with their families, find new homes for them and give them a "kind" death when nothing else is possible. It is heartbreaking.
Of course there are animal shelters that do not euthanize animals. These are good organizations and people are a lot more comfortable supporting them, but what these places really do is further shift the burden onto traditional shelters. These so called "no-kill" shelters are very particular about the animals they accept. They take the small dogs, the puppies, the purebreds and they turn away the rest. I visited one such shelter in New York state that had a screening staff that took phone calls for people wishing to surrender their pets. On that day, they were turning away black and white cats. They had too many already, you see, and just as you can't have a showroom full of yellow cars, you cannot have a cattery full of black and white cats.
The real problem is that pets are considered disposable in our society. People are busy. They get pets without thinking about what they'll do when they have to move and without committing to the training and exercise needs of their dogs and cats. They select breeds that are not well-suited for their family. They have unrealistic expectations about owning and caring for a pet. And too often they fail to have their pets spayed or neutered. Animal shelters quietly and without fuss "dispose" of the unwanted, excess so the rest of us don't have to deal with them. And people blindly continue insisting that they can breed their pet if they want because they don't know and they don't understand.
|My staff - Betty, Wilma & Lucy. They produce eggs in exchange for chicken feed.|