A toughie to read – and write – about
This week I’ve had a couple of articles published covering a horrible topic, the annual dog meat festival in Yulin, China. A subject as bad as puppy farming – in fact my articles have been an attempt to draw the two together as I see little difference in the cruelty involved.
Just the words dog meat bring the bile rising and I understand that people often stop reading at this stage of any piece on the subject, afraid of where it’s going, what images might be seen. I was the same last year when social media was plastered with dreadful pictures of dogs and cats being publicly tortured. I had to leave several pages that I followed as I could not cope with the visual shocks every time I went online.
I felt guilty at my sensitivity; knew I was letting down every single animal that cannot escape the brutality being inflicted by humans, while calling myself a campaigner. I had to compartmentalise the suffering, only suffering is suffering so that only helps me, not the animals involved. I failed last year to grapple with it, this year I’ve pulled myself together, knowing that if we all wimp out, no animal gets helped anywhere.
So, as petitions fly around social media, I’ve spent time picking a careful path through the horrific pictures and focussed on what is actually happening and driving this festival. It goes beyond eating animals that we consider companions. It involves deliberate suffering and torture. If it was just eating meat, albeit that of animals who many around the world consider to be companions, the widespread disgust and condemnation would be considered hypocritical by a lot of people, as what’s the difference between eating one animal and not another? No, what puts this festival in its own category of depravity is that the torture is intentional, it’s not enough to eat the meat, the animals have to endure unimaginable pain and terror.
As I’ve tentatively crept through pages and pages of information, skimmed a lot of images, forcing them out of my mind as I try to sleep at night and they come slipping back into focus, I’ve been struck by the terror and bewilderment seen on the faces of animals in Yulin. I’ve seen this before. In the thousands of pictures and videos I’ve seen of dogs in puppy farms/mills/factories around the world. The agony is the same. Tormented for years in the puppy breeding industry, or for days at Yulin, the terror is the same. Where in the latter the suffering is public, horrific and shortlived, in the puppy farms, it’s prolonged, hidden away but still as horrific. Reading inspection reports from Australia’s recent cases of puppy farm prosecutions, or Ireland’s recent Myshall Farm, Carlow case, where animals endured years of suffering, it screams out to me that in both Yulin and in these breeding facilities, dogs are treated to equal cruelty at the hands of man. And the suffering is driven entirely in both cases, by humans enjoying the results, whether that be the meat of the poor animals, or the puppies they produce.
Petitions to sign against Yulin