Loving Dogz, Killing Deerz

I never understood how deeply animals could feel emotions until I met Emma the Beagle. And part of me wishes I could go back to living in a blissful world of ignorance.

Earlier this week I received news from our homeowners association that the beautiful deer who graze in the fields behind our home have grown too big in population. They will be implementing a “deer management program,” which will allow residents to shoot the deer with arrows and bullets. Because they anticipate a high number of eager hunters, they will hold a lottery to select the lucky few who will get to draw blood.

While neighbors discussed and debated this program on Facebook, I would look over at Emma and inevitably see worry lines across her forehead. No, she was not mourning the deer (at least I don’t think she was); she was worried that we would leave her alone. Emma’s separation anxiety had suffered a regression last week, and so looking at her was a constant reminder that animals do feel emotions. Just like us they can be happy, sad, afraid, angry, etc.

What does it feel like to be munching clovers peacefully under a blue sky one second and then have an arrow tear into your side the next? How physically and emotionally painful must that be? I keep envisioning Emma playing the role of the deer. The sheer terror that would spread across her face. Just the thought makes me cry.

I’m a vegan. I can’t compartmentalize my love and compassion for animals. I used to be able to do it — love dogz, and catz, and birdz, and then chow down on a burger, but I haven’t been able to do it for more than a decade. I have understood that most people do love animals and yet still eat meat, just as I once did. But events in my neighborhood this week are making it harder to get.

While neighbors discussed and debated whether it’s right or wrong to kill the deer, they were also raising money in memory of a baby goat who had died on the farm. The whole community mourned the loss. One baby goat. But killing the deer doesn’t move them in the same way. Why? How?

Hubz and I knew when we bought our house last year that in addition to growing crops for food, the farm also raised chickens to be killed for their meat. The farmer writes a letter each week to CSA members and signs it from all the animals on the farm, including the “dinner” chicks. He loves animals — adores his dog. But how can he cutely anthropomorphize the chickens one minute and then slaughter them the next?

Unable to live in denial any more, I searched Google to learn how chickens are “processed” for their meat on small farms and watched a few minutes of one video. I don’t know if our farm works the same way, but my guess is it is similar. The chickens are placed head down into a cone, with an opening at the bottom big enough for their head and neck to pass through. Then their throats are cut.

The horror I felt for these chickens started well before any sharp object connected with their necks; it happened when I saw them shoved face-down into the cone. You can hear them crying in terror.

And then I imagined Emma playing the role of the chicken. And I cried.

Here’s the video. Watch at your own peril.


3 comments on “Loving Dogz, Killing Deerz

  1. I love this post and the very important moral issues and dilemmas it raises about human beings interpretation about their apparent ‘rights’ over animals. Tracy, I think a lot of the seemingly incongruent decisions around chewing down on burgers whilst loving pets probably boils down to cognitive dissonance. We tell ourselves all sorts of stories to make us feel better about the stuff we do and the rules we follow dictated to us by society and culture. I often wonder how some people in the Chinese culture rationalise brutally ripping the skin off live dogs and cats and then barbarically boiling them alive, eating their flesh and calling it a festival?

    Look at this example of a person who thinks it is fine to trophy hunt but clearly loves her pet cat. The sheer human arrogance of surrounding yourselves with the trophies of wild animals that you have hunted and killed whilst loving your pet cat just blows my mind…

    However, tradition and culture is no excuse for cruelty and in my heart and bones, hunting and killing animals and factory farming and eating animal just flesh feels wrong. I always struggled with it and came to the conclusion a few years ago that I had to live my truth.

    However, I share my life with a dog whom I buy organic grade dog food and treats from the carcasses from other animals, I feel that I am a total hypocrite. I also feel that the company whom I buy the dog food from are hypocrites, kidding themselves that because they are environmentally responsible in their manufacture and that they source high animal welfare standard grade organic meat that somehow this makes it ok? I am very uncomfortable with this however, they have started a vegetarian product for dogs which I am going to try!

    What to do? Am I crazy?!

    Incidentally, some of the best thinkers- Harris, Dawkins et al do tend to agree that not eating meat is probably morally superior behaviour and that in 100 years time, we may well look back on our not too distant ancestors with disgust at our flesh eating habits.

    Thank you for the opportunity to talk about this stuff. I love animals and want to continue to share the planet with them but in a way that is much more respectful of their sentience and individuality and right to exist within nature.

    It ain’t all about us….

    • Honestly, it kills me that I feed meats to Emma, but I truly believe she needs them to live. She has allergies to soy and peanut butter and a number of fruits and vegetables, and so we’re kind of stuck. I hope your pup does well on a vegetarian diet. I’m envious!

      This has been a rough week. That article you posted blows my mind, but what’s scary is that people like her have been coming out of the woodwork in my neighborhood because of the deer program. And today some one posted how if we are ever going to stop this, the last thing we should do is say we’re doing it for the welfare of animals. And for God’s sake, DON’T SAY YOU’RE A VEGAN!!!!

      It makes me insane that the choices I have made for my life — without preaching to others about them — make people so mad. It’s seriously effed up that caring for a life other than your own is seen as militant, fringe, loony. Hubz and I are starting to think we need to move to like a vegan commune to be around people who care.

      I wrote a book about how my diet helped me beat cancer, and I did not preach. I explained that I stopped eating meat out of a love for animals and by doing so my doctors and I are pretty sure that is the reason my cancer reversed course without radiation or chemotherapy. You cannot believe the amount of hate mail I received for simply telling my story. Not telling others what they should do; just telling what worked for me. Happily, many many many more people loved the book and were supportive, so that gives me hope, but still, it’s insane how angry people get just because I enjoy eating veggies.

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