Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rethinking Our Relationship With All Animals

Some people see no contradiction in calling themselves animal lovers (mainly because of their love for cats and dogs), while simultaneously condoning the abuse of farm animals on a mass scale in order to devour their bodies as hamburgers and hot wings. In a country like South Korea, on the other hand, the residents condone the abuse of cats and dogs because it is their flesh that is preferred over others. In fact, despite some protections put in place in 2008, it is still legal to kill cats and dogs for human consumption in South Korea.
According to In Defense of Animals (IDA), dogs and cats are crammed into crates throughout South Korea. When a customer makes a selection, a dog is violently wrenched from the cage, strung up, and ruthlessly beaten - in the presence of other fellow animals - while she writhes and cries out in pain, urinates and defecates, and slowly strangles to death. Her flesh is then blowtorched to improve its appearance. An estimated two million dogs suffer this fate every year in South Korea.

Additionally, tens of thousands of cats are killed every year in South Korea, mostly boiled alive to create what many believe to be a medicinal cure-all for ailments like rheumatism.

The idea of eating cats and dogs appalls many Americans, yet Americans rarely give consideration to "food" animals who experience similar suffering right here at home.

In the United States, 10 billion animals are killed every year just for food. These chickens, pigs, cows, rabbits, turkeys, ducks, sheep and goats are crammed into tiny cages and crates, enduring miserable, filthy conditions - standing in feces or amongst their dead brethren - day in and day out. In South Korea, it is the dogs and cats who bear these deplorable conditions.

Some may look at South Korea as backwards, but the brutality perpetrated against cats and dogs in South Korea is no different than the cruelty experienced by farm animals in the United States. We simply make a choice to view it differently so we can tolerate it.

While South Korea and the United States may not share the same ideas about "food," both countries continue to perpetuate the same misery upon animals and the same mistaken belief that animals are ours to eat, regardless of whether they are cows or cats.

Just like humans, animals seek to avoid pain and suffering. We cannot sincerely call ourselves animal lovers when we discriminate against some and eat others. What makes the suffering of cats different from cows? Nothing! Only until we confront our biases and challenge our cruel customs, can we begin to honestly call ourselves animal lovers. Let us start by respecting all animals equally and seeing each one of them for who they really are - living, breathing, feeling beings - not food.

For information on how to help dogs and cats in South Korea, visit Animal Abuse in Korea.
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