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Cruelty to animals

I am a hypocrite. At least insofar as this article is concerned because I eat meat and use dairy products and everything I say hereafter will demonstrate hypocrisy. You’ve been warned.

For many years such horrible spectator “sports” as bear baiting, cock fighting and dog fighting have been against the law and in the case of one NFL football star, brought a jail term for a violation. Very few would revoke these laws so – and I hate to tell you this – you are all hypocrites just like me except here’s where my confession comes in – I would ban other cruelty to animals although I could no more do that than the UK government can stop fox hunting or Denmark stop the mindless slaughter of whales in the Faroes.

Why are there still bull fights? I realize that a thousand years of tradition is involved but surely this is only a bare step away, if it’s away at all, from pit bulls and gamecocks. I went to the bull fights in Mexico many years ago and found that in no time I was cheering for the bull.

Why do we permit rodeos? In my political days as MLA from Kamloops I would never have asked this question, but this is clear cruelty to animals and no amount of weasel words can change that.

And what about Horse/Dog racing? It is argued that the animals are bred to this and love it. They may be right since they are products of selective breeding. And I’ve long been a horse racing fan but felt it had to be included or I would rise on the hypocrisy scale.

What of hunting, be it birds, animals or so-called “game fish”? (I’ll deal with “sports” fishing in a moment.)

When I was a youngster, my Dad gave me a .22 rifle and just for the hell of it I shot a squirrel. I looked down at my prey and I asked myself, “Rafe, what did you do that for?” I’ve never killed an animal since.

Sports fishing is a toughie for me since I fished from early childhood until a few years ago. I fished for shiners and rock cod and for salmon with my Mom and Dad. I loved it. By the time I quit, I was a pretty good fly fisherman and the sub hobby, tying flies, gave me enormous pleasure and relaxation.

Some years ago I became squeamish about killing fish but was saved by the new ethic of “catch and release”. But I wasn’t.

Then, damn it, the late Hugh Falkus, a man whom I admired very much, wrote an article in a British fly-fishing magazine stating that “catch and release” was unethical because it was needless cruelty to an animal thus fishermen should catch and keep what they wished to eat then quit.

What a load of crap! I can’t believe Hugh said that!

But it bothered me. Then about five years ago, I was fishing on my favourite river, the Taurango-Taupo in New Zealand and while landing a very nice fish, several fish followed her until I netted her.

“Good God, surely they don’t care!”

Wendy and I had dinner that night in a Game Fish Club we often went to and there were the trophies of one ship’s prey all hanging from a beam. Beautiful Marlin and a large Shark, blood streaks down their sides – and we both suddenly felt, for what? Who would kill these beautiful creatures and pay huge bucks for the pleasure?  Wendy, a damned good fly fisher, was having concerns of her own and neither of us fished again. I still have god knows how many rods and reels, including two pretty ancient cane rods from James Hardy and Sons as well as my book collection which contains several first editions of Roderick Haig-Brown. (A double hypocrite am I!)

This led me to ask another question – supposing we acknowledge that commercial fishing provides much of our food – and vital food for some – look how we kill them. They asphyxiate dying a horrible death. Doesn’t it bother you just a bit to think of those fish all flipping around dying a slow, painful death?

This is where the “cold blood” argument comes in. We who fish and have fished console themselves that cold blooded animals feel no pain thus don’t suffer. Science has tossed that argument out long ago. That sport fishing causes stress is demonstrated by how hard they fight as we’re “playing them”.

We know about how chickens are raised for market and how animals are killed to realize that we’re exploiting to meet our tastes not our needs. And, although logically it’s no different than eating an oyster, how can one kill animals for “sport”.

This is where the writer sums up and offers a solution. And I’m unable to other than to say that perhaps we ought to start by refraining from killing animals just for the hell of it and let future generations deal with what their hypocritical forbears couldn’t handle.

2 Responses to “Cruelty to animals”

  1. admin says:

    I draw the line at bullfighting and veal. If those two things aren’t cruelty to animals, I don’t know what is. In a bullfight, it isn’t just that the bull always loses; they have to torture and bleed it for a while before the matador comes out.

    I lived in Florida for a year, and they have dog racing tracks there. I like horse racing a lot, but I developed an unprovoked disdain for dog racing: “Anybody who bets on dogs will bet on anything.” This was before government-run lotteries became so widespread.

  2. Ronnie says:

    How far do you carry it,just because you can’t hear it doesn’t mean a carrot don’t scream when you pull it from the ground.
    I catch n sell live crabs and softshells so I let the consumer deal with being tender in the killing process.

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