This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
"Why would we name it, hunny? We're going to eat it!" laughs her mother in reply. These two and the rest of their family are seated behind me on the cold wooden benches of the smaller bidding ring at the weekly Woodville Livestock Auction, chatting and giggling after having just purchased a "spent" dairy goat for 60 cents/pound. Heather Clemenceau sits quietly beside me, eyes intent on catching a sign of a mistreated or sick animal. We don't have to wait long. There is a sense of familiarity among many of the people at the auction, many referring to each other by first name, the auctioneer using his position and quick lip to crack hearty jokes about many of his co-workers and friends who are in today's crowd. Meanwhile, in the pit of newly placed shavings directly below him, groups of goats, piglets and sheep are coming pair by pair, six by six, and sometimes one by one into the ring. A tall gentleman in overalls tails them in the brief 30-60 seconds that each animal makes its appearance, forcing him/her to flee in every direction to show the crowd every angle of the animal's appearance and, therefore, market value. Many a time he uses the wooden cane he is wielding to catch them by the neck and escort them out of the "sold" door. Other times, the animal may be grabbed by the tail or hit with a short wooden gate to encourage his or her immediate departure after he or she is committed to by the highest bidder. Each time the word "sold" is uttered, the animal's fate is sealed. Their time is up, they are headed to be slaughtered. Most of the bidders are simply kill buyers who slaughter and distribute the meat to our common Ontario grocery stores.
As I depart the cold, stone room for my second bathroom break, I can hear another fasttalking auctioneer on the other side of the building. When I return, I mutter to Heather, "The dairy cattle and veal auction is happening next door, let's go and check it out." The two of us quietly shuffle out of our front row seats and out the door, leaving behind the smaller stock to suffer without any compassionate witnesses. At this point in the morning, we are quite familiar with the layout of the building, so we easily find our way back into the larger ring where animals such as cattle and horses are sold. Preceding the active sales, we were seated in the front row of this "auditorium", observing and recording the crowd of men, women and children in the ring who were browsing through crates of chickens, rabbits, and even a kennel with two lightly-coloured ferrets. As we watched, we saw many a rabbit get "scruffed" by the people who were attempting to sell him or her off. Something I learned from my ongoing campaign against the inhumane practices at the Stouffville Market is that picking up a rabbit by the scruff of the neck is a form of animal cruelty. Unlike dogs and cats, rabbits do not move their young around by gripping the back of their neck. In fact, they normally don't move their young at all. When this is done to a rabbit, it causes the skin to separate from the muscle tissue and cause major discomfort. It is thought to be the same sensation as a human would feel if lifted by the skin on the back of their neck. The lack of knowledge seen here is something that is all too common at Ontario's live animal sales. The last part of our stay is bearing witness to the cattle cull. Before coming into here, we had spent some time standing and talking to the dairy mothers and their babies in the back area
of the building. While most of the babies seemed to be at least two weeks old, there was one who appeared to be approximately 2-3 days old among the group. Shaky on his legs, he continually watched and called to the many cows who were contained in a holding pen on the other side of the room. Obviously, not all of these cows could have been his mother, but he seemed to be addressing all of them. Could it have just been the overwhelming scent of their full, warm udders that are designed to provide him with life-saving nutrients and the ultimate motherly comfort? I'd say so.
My attention is distracted when a few small groups of people come in to record and remember the numbers on the ear tags of the calves that they like. One gentleman comments "There's only two calves that I like outta here, the rest are crap." Almost simultaneously, one of the calves begins to gag and ends up regurgitating onto the floor. A man beside me comments "There's almost always a sick one." As the auction begins, the mother cows are brought out one by one into the ring. Two of these ladies showed high aggressive tendencies and fear, attempting to ram and chase the people around them. The second one, who slipped once on the slick floor underneath her, trotted out of the ring quite quickly after being purchased. However, she then did something that I will never forget. Pausing her run, the cow stopped beside the veal holding pen, where a baby was kneeled down with his head facing the exit door. She then stuck her nose through the bars and gave him a quick lick on the nose. Immediately, this little boy attempted to stand up and begin to lick her back, but she had already been chased away by the closing door. When this cow initially came into the ring charging, Heather and I both grabbed our chests from fear and then laughed out of relief. This rose a question in my mind; Was this cow an angry, evil animal to be feared? Was she a contained beast who given the chance would viciously take advantage of and cause intentional harm to the innocent bystanders in the crowd if there were not ropes to separate them? That is when I realized that this is the exact mindset that causes all of us to justify hurting animals from a very young age. In fact, I had the roles completely reversed. My question was answered when I realized I was sitting among the evil animals to be feared, among the uncontained beasts who seized every chance to take advantage of and cause intentional harm to innocent bystanders of nature. In the last few minutes of our trip, Heather and myself go outside to observe the snowy holding pen for the sold animals, who are now prepared to be loaded onto a trailer. The first cow we come across is dripping blood from her eye and is clearly ill. As I race to access my phone camera and document this, she silently turns and walks away. The remainder of the cattle are uninterested in us and we soon receive the cold shoulder. My initial reaction to this cow's eye infection was that it was only "minor". I then asked myself, what defines "minor"? Why does an animal have to scream and collapse in pain for us as adults to feel empathy toward it, when a young child can immediately understand and cry at the sight of an untreated eye infection? The answer is diet. It is my belief that as long as we are consuming yet ignoring animals who died in fear, pain, and mental anguish, we are inviting these same feelings into our own bodies. Being raised to suppress our empathy toward our fellow creatures so we can continue to satisfy our cravings and
luxuries definitely causes one supreme consequence; the slow fading of our desire to care and to give, and the increase in our desire to take and to exploit. All of us feel anger at the rich and greedy businessmen, at the ignorant politicians who get rich off of our tax dollars, and the big banks who continually scam people out of their money, thus thrusting many into the lower class. The question that has been on my mind all day is simply this: Would any of this cruelty and callousness toward human and non-human animals alike ever be allowed to happen if everybody pursued a vegan or vegetarian diet? Would we be so consumed in ourselves and be so ignorant toward suffering humans and animals if we would not even allow this kind of treatment toward "farmed" animals? There is no simple answer, it is all up to the individual. "I guess we better head out." says Heather. "Yeah," I reply, "we can only take so much for one day." List of observations by Nicholas Wilvert and Heather Clemenceau, January 26/2013: - Two cows with enlarged, reddened udders. Presumably mastitic. - Goat headbutting another goat in tiny, crowded, holding pen. Other goat has no room to escape. - One female goat in very bad condition: left horn growing into and penetrating the ear, a crooked front left leg that appears to have once been broken and never properly set, and hooves so long that walking appears to be incredibly painful. - Overcrowding of sheep and goats. - Cow who was drinking urine as it came out of other cow. - Regurgitating bull calf. - Goat doe with large abscess on the right side of the rear end. - Lame doe. - Lame doe with clear respiratory illness; squinted, runny eyes and laboured, rusty breathing. - Calves and goats being moved around by tail pulling, striking with cane, pulling of horns. - One ewe with an inflamed and reddened udder. - Goat doe with lump on side. - Cow with very obvious blood all over snout and front of mouth being sold in auction ring. - Cow with left horn growing deep into the face directly under the eye. - Cow being sold in ring with watery stools. - Cattle struck on rump with cane to encourage running. - At least 5 cows with superficial yet open and bloody cuts on front ankles. - At least 10 rabbits scruffed by the neck. http://www.getcrackingcruelty.ca/wpcontent/uploads/2011/12/External_Report_Investigation_at_Kawartha_April_and_May_20111.pdf http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2MAMao9fLI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs6eGuYsFrQ Refer to Facebook Album: Woodville Auction
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.