<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Cruelty and Apathy - Are You Guilty? 

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the sheer amount of animal cruelty that goes on every day in this world. I never really thought about it before I started doing this work. I never realized exactly how widespread it was, either. I figure that most of the public probably doesn't, either.

Unless you are an activist like me that subscribes to many newsletters, has a program that constantly scans the news for certain keywords, and belongs to many groups and forums, there is probably no way for you to be aware of exactly how bad and widespread this problem really is.

To give you an idea of what I am talking about, I'll use the example of the article that sparked this post. It is called, "Animal cruelty or family fun?" and discusses an issue that just really makes my blood boil - "hog/dog rodeos."

Ever heard of these? I hadn't. Seems this is considered "family fun" in Clarke County, Alabama, though. Let me use a few quotes from the article to give you an idea of exactly how horrible this really is:

Recently our NBC 15 undercover team broke into this world where watching torture and bloodshed is a family pastime for all ages. It's a game of catch. Dogs, mostly pit bulls, showing off their hunting skills. Those that latch their powerful jaws on a penned wild pig the fastest win prize money and trophies.

The day NBC 15's Mike Rush attended, he witnessed pigs screeching in pain as dogs chewed ears, a tail and a snout. The battles were over as soon as the handlers could pry the dogs off the terrified hogs.

Joseph Ebey has attended many of these rodeos. His grandson is one of the "handlers." They're the guys in the ring who control the pigs, sometimes by kicking them in the face or wrestling them to the ground.

In between fights, children battled each other to be the first to tackle a pig with a taped snout and, according to the announcer, a broken leg.

With music blaring from a sounds system, an admission charge and bleachers, this is a business

There's more - even pictures and video of the event if you pull up the whole article. What was amazing to me is that this happens, even though the officials around there want to shut these events down. It seems to be a bit of a problem, though, to figure out who is responsible for doing that. There was even dispute whether or not they were even illegal, believe it or not.
As the article states:

These hog rodeos are anything but Clarke County's dirty little secret. They're put on by H and H Kennels who advertises their schedules in many publications, including the "Clarke County Shoppers Guide". Authorities have known about these fights for years.

So, why would they allow it to happen? Well, the D.A. says that he would prosecute if the sheriff would arrest people. The sheriff said he did once, but the D.A. wouldn't prosecute because he didn't think they were illegal at the time. Then, we find out more.

The sheriff says because of our interest, he'll ask Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor for his opinion. It's not the first time. More than three years ago, Mobile's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Mobile County's District Attorney's office asked Pryor to weigh in. The attorney general didn't get involved then and recently turned down our repeated requests to show him our video. His office stated it's a county matter.

So, what to do? Well, it looks like it was a good thing that the camera crew came in and exposed this sick little ring of people. Perhaps it will finally be stopped because of the publicity.

Since NBC 15 first spoke with Sheriff Day, He told us he's discussed the matter again with the District Attorney Keahey and both agree the hog/dog rodeos are against the law.

Johnny Hayes puts on the rodeos. He did not respond to our repeated requests for an interview, but at the event Rush attended, Hayes announced another rodeo is scheduled for February 21st. If it happens, the sheriff says he'll shut it down.

Well, good. It's about time. It is shameful to have something like this going on in what is supposed to be a decent and civilized society. They should shut down the kennels, too, and arrest Hayes for holding such an event in the first place. He should not be allowed to have anything to do with dogs. EVER!

But, you know, the worst thing about this is that these people were taking their children to an event like this. What kind of message does that send to them? Does it teach them to be caring, compassionate individuals? No. Quite the opposite. These people are preparing the next generation to be just as ruthlessly cruel as they are. Why would any parent want to encourage their children to commit such an act of cruelty toward another living creature? Why would they believe that this was "just good family fun?"

That's the question we should all be asking ourselves. Why do some people see nothing wrong with this? Why??? Why do others blind themselves to it? Why do they not care?

When did society get so mean and cruel? I don't believe it happened overnight. I think it just kind of crept up on us while we were not paying attention, busy with our own little lives. It started the first time someone turned their head, declaring this kind of thing to be "none of their business" and/or that they "don't want to get involved." But, is it not their business? Should they not get involved?

After all, these people move amongst us in society. The Police Chief of a neighboring town stated that some of the problems that stem from this are:

"People's cars getting vandalized in the parking lot, we've had complaints on dog fights in the parking lots, children getting hurt on 3 wheelers, fights."

What else happens because of the non-caring, even sadistic, attitude these people have?

I read of many atrocities every day in cities all over the place. Let me give you just a small sample of the things that have come through my inbox in just the past few weeks (it is by no means exhaustive):

Nicholas Matassa, of Gonzales, Louisiana, tortured a golden retriever to death because he was mad at his girlfriend.

Daniel Culligan in Bucks County, PA, doused a cat with charcoal lighter fluid, set it on fire, and tossed it over his back deck.

A poor little cat that showed up at a shelter in Kansas was shot in the face with a pellet gun by an unknown person. (Who, btw, is still walking amongst you...Somewhere...Who will be their next victim???)

Mr. William Richard Baker, of Wilson, NC, was seen placing a Pomeranian breed of dog in the trunk of his car just before entering Lowe’s. Wilson 911 dispatch was notified by a witness, and police and animal control confronted Mr. Baker with the allegation that he had in fact placed a dog in his trunk. Mr. Baker admitted his guilt and condoned his behavior stating arrogantly and abusively to officials that this was “. . . his damn dog and if he wanted, he would put it into a trunk again.”

We have multiple college fraternities across the country requiring pledges to commit an act of abominable cruelty to an animal to be accepted - beating geese to death, beating, skinning and eating a raccoon, etc.

And the list goes on and on and on and on and on. You might not have heard about these cases, but they go on right under your nose. They happen every day. They happen right in your city - your neighborhood, even.

Then, we have much more public things that happen, like the aerial shooting of wolves in Alaska. Or even this picture of chickens being burned alive in the village of Bolangan, in Bali, Indonesia.

Why do we allow these things to happen? Why don't we stand up and stop this behavior? Why do we decide it is none of our business or that we are helpless to do anything about it? Why? Why?


Because these acts of cruelty do affect us all. Every one of us.

Consider this from one of PETA's factsheets, "Animal Abuse and Human Abuse: Partners in Crime":

The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.

Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused animals as children than criminals considered non-aggressive. A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found that all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a boy. To researchers, a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the lives of serial rapists and killers.
Says Robert Ressler, founder of the FBI’s behavioral sciences unit, "These are the kids who never learned it’s wrong to poke out a puppy’s eyes."

We, as a society, cannot afford to turn our heads and claim it is none of our business. We absolutely must get involved. These people must be stopped before they get worse. It might be you, your animals, or even your kids or grandkids, that they victimize next. Would you decide it was none of your business then? Wouldn't you be extremely angry if you were to find out that there were people knew of the sadistic nature of a person, but said and did nothing, didn't want to "get involved," and that person went on to abuse or kill your dog, your cat, your child?!

This is a matter that does indeed affect us all. It is not merely the acts these people perpetrate. It is the attitude and mindset they have that allows them to commit - even enjoy! - this type of behavior - this sadistic and criminal behavior. It is this same mindset that they pass on to the next generation of children.

And, it is the apathy of society that lets them get away with it.

You may be saying to yourself that, yes, these acts of cruelty are horrible, but you don't have the time to write letters or pick up the phone. Are you really so very busy that you don't have time to stop what could be a serial killer in the making? Really? Do you not care enough to make the time to get involved? I'm busy, too. I struggle to find enough work every day just to earn enough money to survive. But, somehow I do manage to find the time, as do many others.

Just imagine how much of a difference you could make if you spent but just a few minutes a day, even an hour a week, to speak up and say loudly, "NO!" when you hear of something like this.

According to former Congressperson Billy Evan (D-Ga.), "Legislators estimate that 10 letters from constituents represent the concerns of 10,000 citizens. Anybody who will take the time to write is voicing the fears and desires of thousands more." If that's not enough to convince you, ask yourself this: If you don't communicate with the officials representing you, who will? While you're complaining to your friends about gruesome animal experiments (or any other type of cruelty), someone who disagrees with you is communicating with your lawmakers. Do you want them speaking for you?

Speak up. Get involved. The life you save may be your own.

Or your child's...

It is your business.

It is the business of every one of us because these people live in our communities.

They may even live right next door to you!

If you are not a part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

At the end of your life will you be able to say that you made a difference? Will you be able to say that the world is a better place for having you in it?

Will you have regrets???

You can make a difference. Look at how much of a difference a backwoods hillbilly ex-chicken plant worker has made.

You are here reading my blog, aren't you? ;)
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