The headlines of stories this week about the Cracker Day rodeo at the Volusia County Fairgrounds in DeLand were about a woman who was trampled and gored by a bull, but what we found more interesting was a statement by a spectator.
John Weideman-Beal told WESH Ch. 2 that before the bull was released from the chute he saw something odd: “I saw one of the handlers reach down in there, and I don’t know if they cattle-prodded it or what, and it went from a little ornery to bucking, kicking and shewing, and I said, ‘That is one crazy bull. Somebody is going to get hurt.’”
It’s common for rodeo organizers to talk about “mean bulls” and the bucking “instinct” of bulls. It’s less common for a member of the public to spot the bucking straps, electro-shock prods or the tail-twisting that provoke animals into displaying wild behavior.
Last week, a man in Lee County was arrested on animal cruelty charges after it was discovered he had branded his dog and docked the dog’s tail without anesthesia. Lee County Domestic Animal Services veterinarian Suzanne Vazzana explained that branding can cause “considerable pain and suffering.”
We hope that if this individual is found guilty that he receives the maximum penalty and loses custody of the dog. But it is a sad reflection on how society views animals that tail docking and branding are among the painful mutilations commonly suffered by cows in the beef and dairy industries in Florida, without any action from law enforcement.
Cows, like the dog in Lee County, suffer third-degree burns from branding. Cows, like all animals, are protected under Florida’s anti-cruelty statute (828.12). Unfortunately, it would be very difficult to convince a prosecutor to file criminal charges against a farmer for branding or cutting off the tail of a cow.
We look forward to a day when dogs and cows are no longer treated differently under the law.
For Immediate Release: April 16, 2013
(Kissimmee, FL) — On Tuesday, April 16 the Kissimmee City Commission will consider an ordinance to prohibit the public slaughter of animals. The proposed ordinance is in response to citizen complaints about the butchering of wild pigs and other hunted animals in public view. The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) has sent a letter to commissioners urging them to reject the ordinance.
“The killing and butchering of an animal– whether the unfortunate animal is a wild pig, deer, cow or a chicken– is horrible to witness, but that is exactly why it shouldn’t be hidden behind the walls of a slaughterhouse,” said ARFF Communications Director Don Anthony. “We urge the City of Kissimmee to either reject the proposed ban on the public slaughter of animals, or ban slaughter completely in the city.”
Paul McCartney famously said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.” Although that is an exaggeration, it is true that animal slaughter in plain sight, along with the cries of animals and the smell of blood, would be a powerful reminder of the individual animals behind the meat on people’s plates.
For animal advocates working for a future without slaughterhouses, that day might come faster if it was impossible for meat eaters to hide from the slaughterhouse.
*ARFF’s letter to the city commission is available upon request
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We were shocked this week to see the news that an elephant traveling with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had been shot during a stop in Tupelo, Mississippi. Thankfully, the injury was not life-threatening and Carol the elephant is expected to recover. We hope those responsible for this horrible crime will be quickly identified and arrested.
Animal activists in South Florida may recognize the elephant victim. Carol was one of three elephants who, beginning in 1989, performed daily at the Swap Shop flea market in Fort Lauderdale. After 15 years, the flea market ended its financial support and the circus was evicted in 2005. The campaign against the Swap Shop circus was one of ARFF’s longest.
In 1990, Carol crushed a circus worker to death in the parking lot at the Swap Shop.
When Carol recovers, we hope that she does not rejoin the circus. Carol has suffered long enough. She deserves a peaceful retirement, free from constant travel chained in the back of a truck, and safe from random shootings!