Eating animals to help animals? We can do better.

Thoughts on the Animal Rescue League of Berks County‘s Ham Dinner fundraiser by one of our members.

happy_campers_206891It strikes a painful nerve when local animal-helping organizations raise money through activities that involve animal suffering, like a ham dinner or a burger festival.

When I see ham on a plate, I see the trail of suffering that began with the birth of the piglet. It follows his short life of confinement, and ends in his fear and slaughter at about 6 months old. It’s taken me a long time to face what I knew was going on and make lifestyle changes to avoid this sanctioned violence.

Not everyone is there yet. But people who work with dogs and cats understand the love of animals and that they can suffer. They just don’t always connect it to animals considered livestock — or maybe they feel the fight against such as massive and powerful industry is futile.

01_14_7---Pot-Bellied-Pig_webMore than once, animal lovers who still eat meat have confided to me, “I know you are right — I just can’t do it.” This means something to me — people are seeing and feeling injustice and moving in the right direction. After all, they could be snickering at my chickpea salad and baiting me with nonsense about protein. And they aren’t.

When you see animal abuse as a social justice issue, you see the full range, from Michael Vick to the suffering on factory farms. But many organizations working to help pets don’t address the same range.

It’s the old argument of animal rights vs. animal welfare. The two movements have much in common — they both say they love animals and give large amounts of time and money to help animals in need. And I think we share more than we don’t share. An example of this is the recent change in factory farming standards Nestlé enacted after Mercy for Animal’s investigation.

Forest-3If we aren’t yet at the point of creating fundraisers without animals as food, how about offering a vegan alternative at every event? A local restaurant, Chen in West Reading, makes an excellent smoky vegetarian ham that is featured in many of its dishes. Veggie hotdogs and burgers are available in almost every grocery store and are much healthier than their animal-based alternatives. I’d be very excited to see this and would tell my larger-than-you-think vegan community.

Would some animal activists be turned off to see and smell meat cooking? Yes. Would some give it a chance? Yes. I believe someday that humans will stop eating sentient beings and will find it strange to imagine a time when animals were raised to be killed. Maybe just maybe we are moving in that direction.

Food for ThoughtIf you feel the same, please contact the Animal Rescue League and encourage them to visit Food for Thought for suggestions on creating fundraisers than are friendly to ALL animal species. Please politely encourage truly cruelty-free, vegan options, void of any animal products. We realize the ARL and other groups are doing the best they can to help the animals in our area with limited resources, and therefore need to have successful fundraisers.

Judd Meinhart, Shelter Director
610-373-8830 ext. 121

Ashley Mikulsky, Director of Administration and Development
610-373-8830 ext. 117

We do not yet have contact information for the Board of Directors, but you can access their names and affiliations here.

Find sample letters here.

Justice for Dogs Shot by Police – Lancaster, PA – Tomorrow – August 16th

Last week, a tragic death occurred just south of us, in Lancaster, PA. On Wednesday, August 6th, a dog hopped out of the back of a truck in a parking lot to say hello to a man and his dog. His friendliness ultimately led to his death due to violent actions taken by the Lancaster Police Department, particularly Officer Hagen.

The following are accounts by two separate witnesses:

The dog’s owner unfortunately left him and another dog unattended in the back of a partially covered truck, which is not condoned, but this does not justify the police shooting him. After approximately 30 minutes, the dog jumped from the truck and ran towards a man, a local resident, and his dog who had just gotten out of a nearby SUV, but did not attack him or his dog. When the man put his dog back in his vehicle, the pit bull jumped in the back of the SUV as well.

Witnesses state the dog went back and forth between his owner’s truck, looking as though he was trying to get back into the truck, and the white SUV, before jumping back into the SUV. The owner of the SUV and other bystanders were using treats to try to coax the dog out of the vehicle when police arrived, and subsequently threatened to shoot the dog.

The resident refused to move to allow the officers to open fire until the police placed him in handcuffs. Rather than acting calmly, these officers were screaming and created more chaos, scaring the dog further, and attempted to put a snare pole around his neck before tazing him, twice. The innocent dog, still not charging or attempting to attack anyone, jumped out of the SUV and an officer shot him twice with a shotgun, killing him.


Second account:

I was at work, Aussie and the Fox, and the dog was across the road in the Central Market parking lot. We have big windows so when I saw police and a crowd gathering it caught everyone in the restaurants eye. I saw a beautiful white pit bull jumping from one truck to another SUV. The truck that he jumped out of was too high for him to get into so he jumped into the back of an SUV to be safe. He was obviously trying to go back where he belonged.

The dog was smiling with his tongue out and tail wagging. There was no aggressive behavior. One policeman had a large pole with a hoop on it to try to catch the dog, but he did not even try to use it. There was no attempt to peacefully capture the dog. After the dog walked around the lot a few times we see a police officer point a large gun at the dog. We all figured it was a tranquilizer. I was so upset that they were going to tranquilize the dog. He shot the dog twice because the dog was in a lot of pain jumping around after the first shot.

It was across an open parking lot, if it had ricocheted or if he missed who knows what he would have hit. After the dog was down nobody went anywhere near the dog, they just let him lay there in the middle of the lot. That’s when I knew it wasn’t a tranquilizer, the dog was killed. The whole time the owner with the SUV was handcuffed for trying to stop the policeman from shooting the dog, they were trying to shoot the dog while he was in the gentleman a SUV with his dog. The man was obviously worried about his dog getting shot as well. This policeman was ready to shoot anywhere not caring what or who was hit.

Several articles on Lancaster Online share similar accounts, and report on a small rally that already occurred last week:

Witnesses: Dog didn’t appear aggressive before officer shot it
Rally held over pit bull shot and killed by Lancaster police officer
Social media helped spread the word about city rally

I have not found confirmation, but some individuals have mentioned that Officer Hagen, who pulled the trigger, was also responsible for shooting a German Shepherd Dog named Rocky previously.

Please meet at the Lancaster City Police Station 39 W. Chestnut St., Lancaster, PA 17603, by 10:00am tomorrow, August 16th, to take part in the rally. The location is near the corner of Prince and Chestnut.

Alternately, meet at Penn Square at 9:30am, and march to join with the other rally at 10:00am.