Humans are not the only animals to feel pain – all animals feel pain. Accidentally tread on your pet dog or cat’s paw and it will let you know immediately that you have hurt it. You will very probably apologize to the injured creature (even though it doesn’t understand your words), and fuss over it to show you are sorry. The fact is you really do not want to be the cause of any unnecessary suffering to your domestic pets – your household companions – so it is only right to behave in the same way to all other animals that share our planet.
However, unless you are a vegan, or for some other reason (such as a religious belief) do not believe in eating meat, it is a perhaps unfortunate fact that animals have to be killed to provide the meat that most of us eat as a regular part of our diet. Regrettable though that is, it is important that the imposed death of those animals is as painless as possible, and is also humane in other ways. For example, in abattoir or slaughterhouse environment, animals awaiting their turn should not be able to witness those ahead of them being killed, which would simply add to their terror. Animals are intelligent (for example, pigs are just as intelligent as dogs) and are quite capable of seeing, hearing and smelling what is going on around them (“If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls” n.d.).
Furthermore, although slaughterhouses are subject to strict federal regulations, many fear that the regulations are frequently ignored or overlooked – usually in the process of maintaining a high throughput of animals. As mentioned in that same article: “As the animals struggle, they’re often abused by frustrated workers, who are under constant pressure to keep the lines moving at rapid speeds” (“If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls” n.d.).
In a Washington Post article, a slaughterhouse worker whose job is to cut the hocks from the supposedly already dead cattle moving past him on the line, reported that: “On bad days . . . . dozens of animals reached his station clearly alive and conscious. Some would survive as far as the tail cutter, the belly ripper, the hide puller.” Their deaths took place “piece by piece” he said (Warrick 2001). To ensure that such violations are eradicated, the monitoring of the regulations needs to be increased to ensure that they are fully observed.
Even animal rearing can be inhumane; innocent animals are used for pharmaceutical testing, and many others are raised in factory farms, where they live in cramped quarters, never seeing daylight during their short lives. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA): “At every step of their lives, all animals should be treated with compassion and protected from suffering. Sadly, billions of farm animals lack even the most basic protections under the law” (“Farm Animal Cruelty” 2014).
Many people may be unaware that the regulations that should be ensuring humane deaths for our food animals specifically exclude all birds. So the 300 million or so factory-farmed egg-producing chickens in the US are not protected, nor are the more than eight billion chickens slaughtered every year in the US for their meat (“The Modern Farming Problem: Birds on Factory Farms” 2014).
Whilst this writer is firmly opposed to the inhumane treatment of animals, whether they be domestic animals, factory-farmed livestock, those used for testing, or simply animals in the wild, it seems reasonable to state that the hunting of animals, albeit an activity that is for many undertaken as a sport, can be considered humane, so long as the target animals are killed instantly by what is called “a clean shot.” In many respects, hunting and killing wild animals for food is morally preferable to supporting the concept of big business running factory farms for profit, and feeding those animals with chemical additives and hormones to accelerate growth for increased profit, with animal welfare coming a poor second.
“Farm Animal Cruelty.” (2014). The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Web. Accessed 18 Dec. 2014. URL: <https://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty>.
“If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls.” (n.d.). Vegan Outreach. Web. Accessed 18 Dec. 2014. URL: <http://www.veganoutreach.org/whyvegan/slaughterhouses.html>.
“The Modern Farming Problem: Birds on Factory Farms.” (2014). The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Web. Accessed 18 Dec. 2014. URL: <https://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty>.
Warrick, Joby. (Apr. 2001). “They Die Piece by Piece: In Overtaxed Plants, Humane Treatment of Cattle Is Often a Battle Lost.” The Washington Post. Web. Accessed 18 Dec. 2014. URL: <https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/misc.activism.progressive/76Nqp_pQQ6A>.