Tag Archives: sheep

We crucified the Lamb of God — Why do we still slaughter sheep?

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By Dan Paden

As I read Exodus and Leviticus this Lent, the ritual sacrifices of lambs, oxen and other animals strike me. Imagining how the offerings of these slaughtered animals looked, sounded and smelled fuels powerful meditations on the death of Jesus, the “Lamb of God.” It also makes me wonder: Why do the faithful still have countless lambs and sheep — among other species — killed so violently for us?

Christ’s death, after all, made animal sacrifices obsolete. According to Saint Paul, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, no one else — including lambs and other sheep — need die for our sins. But need they die for us at all? God put animals’ fate into our hands only after He lamented our ancestors’ wickedness and flooded the Earth. This likely left Noah’s family with little to eat and wear but animals. That’s a bleak position to be in: Kill, eat and cover oneself with God’s creations — or perish.

I don’t face such desperation. Very few readers do. We don’t need to eat lamb — hundreds of healthy, happy Trappist monks and nuns across the U.S. can attest to that — or wear wool.

And yet, in a nation where more than 70 percent of the population self-identifies as Christian, around 37,000 lambs and older sheep are slaughtered every week at federally inspected plants. Nearly 190,000 lambs and sheep were killed on U.S. farms from 2014 to 2015.

In Colorado, my friend documented a shearer who twisted one such victim’s neck, breaking it, and then kicked her headfirst down a chute, where she died.

That horrible treatment cannot be considered an isolated incident. In 2014, another colleague of mine documented that workers in Argentina cut the throats of conscious lambs and started to skin some of them while they were still kicking. Months earlier, PETA had revealed that in Australia, workers beat sheep while shearing them.

All that pain and agony was inflicted on God’s creations here and elsewhere simply so that someone could buy a lamb chop or a pair of socks made of wool. The U.S. produced more than 25 million pounds of wool — and imported millions of pounds more — in 2015.

So we must ask ourselves: Are the sheep and lambs who are slaughtered today dying because of our sins?

Sin “is an offense against … right conscience … caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). If we wouldn’t slit a conscious lamb’s throat or break a sheep’s neck ourselves, can our conscience rightly accept having others do so on our behalf?

Isn’t it only our stubborn attachment to mere taste preferences — whether for a particular dish or a certain sweater—that keeps us buying lambs’ flesh or wool in the face of such endemic cruelty?

I confess that I once cherished the wool sweaters that my grandparents gave me each Christmas. But when I learned of the agony woven in with that yarn and the blood washed out of it, I could no longer in good conscience wear them or any wool. To do so would be to support all the terror and suffering that exist in the interconnected wool and sheep-flesh industries.

This Lent, as we strive especially hard to turn away from sin, may we also take up Christ’s instruction to “proclaim the gospel to every creature.” We can start to bring His good news to all creation by leaving lambs and sheep off our plates and their skin and fleece off our backs.

For the faithful — and indeed, for all kind people — our choice is simple but stark: We can work toward God’s peaceable kingdom to come, in which no animal will be harmed or destroyed — or pay others to harm and stab these docile, fellow living beings on our behalf.

Which will you choose?

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This Valentine’s Day, show some serious love to animals! Pledge to go vegetarian – or eat way less meat! Drop the fur – forever! Bannish wool from your closet! Fight for ALL animals (even the ones you don’t think are cute)!💙

From PETA.ORG. Some sweet – and arresting – images. – R.T.

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Why I’ll have a wool-free winter

By Jennifer Bates
 
‘Tis the season for cozy fires, warm cocoa and playing in the snow. One thing that’s never in season, though, is wool.
 
I used to love wool—I mean, really love it. As soon as the temperature dipped, out came my wool skirts and scarves, mittens and sweaters. It made my eyes water and my skin itch, but I still bundled up in the stuff every winter and lamented packing it away again in the spring. On a trip to Tibet years ago, I even searched for hours for a wool cap, the only souvenir I really wanted. But these days, wool is no longer welcome in my closet. Why? Because I now see wool for what it actually is: environmentally destructive and heartbreakingly cruel.
 
Sheep require lots of land for grazing, and our voracious demand for wool requires lots and lots of sheep—so many, in fact, that they have outstripped the Earth’s ability to sustain them. In Patagonia, Argentina—once second only to Australia in wool production—too many sheep on the land led to soil deterioration, desertification and, eventually, irrevocable damage to the area. In a region of South Africa, sheep and other farmed animals created badlands when they ate their way through all the vegetation. And of course, cutting down trees to make room for grazing leads to decreased biodiversity. Any way you look at it, wool production is stripping parts of the planet bare.  
 
And the sheep fare even worse than the environment. Since shearers are paid by volume, it’s in their financial interests to work as quickly as possible, with no consideration for the sheep’s welfare. On three continents, PETA has exposed shearers who punched and stomped on sheep, throwing them against the hard wooden floor and gouging them with clippers as they raced to shear as many sheep as possible. Often, workers starve sheep and deprive them of water for 24 hours before shearing begins because weak animals are easier to control. Some sheep die from all this abuse.
 
And “responsibly sourced” wool is just as bad. A recent PETA video exposé of some of these sheep farms in Argentina showed hideous mutilations without any pain relief. One worker hacked off lambs’ tails, leaving bloody stumps as the babies bleated in pain. Another cut notches out of the lambs’ sensitive ears using a tool resembling pliers and neutered a male lamb by putting a tight ring around his scrotum so that his testicles would shrivel up and fall off. Even as a woman, the thought makes me cross my legs and grimace at the agony they endure.
 
That Tibetan cap turned out to be the last wool purchase I ever made. After learning about all the cruelty and environmental destruction caused by wool production, I said goodbye to wool clothing forever. And in so doing, I learned something else: It is so easy not to wear wool. The variety of sustainable, plant-based materials available is astounding, and they can be found everywhere, from national chains to Fifth Avenue boutiques. Clothing and accessories made out of these vegan fabrics are comfortable, warm and stylish. And, since compassion looks good on everyone, they also make the perfect holiday gift.
 
Let’s make this a joyous season for all beings. Choose cruelty-free clothing and accessories, and leave wool where it belongs — on animals.

“Taking animals out of the fashion equation”

From PETA.ORG:

Written by Christina Sewell

Vegan wool means high-tech, eco-friendly, cruelty-free construction – a model set to take over the fashion industry.

Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of VAUTE took the time to introduce us to her chic wool-free coats and chunky knit sweaters, which encourage positive change by taking animals out of the fashion equation.

To create VAUTE’s version of vegan wool, Hilgart turned to U.S.-based high-tech mills at the cutting edge of sustainability, using eco-conscious fabrics made from a blend of organics and recycled fibers.

The combination makes for a super-warm, water-resistant, and windproof garment that gives back to the planet and spares sheep from painful mutilations on farms.

These are coats and sweaters that people who may not yet know about how cruelly animals are treated will adore, because they’re created with the warmth and protection of a coat from Patagonia but with the look and feel of a trendy, sleek dress coat.

With this fashion-forward clothing, VAUTE proves that rules were made to be broken and that what we choose to wear is extremely impactful. Everyone can make positive changes with simple everyday choices.

Animals shouldn’t be exploited and abused, and it’s time to make sure that there’s no need for them to be by creating animal-free apparel that looks, performs, and feels better.

Check out VAUTE’s coat collection!

Why I won’t wear wool this winter

By Paula Moore

I’ve been an animal rights advocate for more than two decades, and during that time I’ve come to believe that the animals killed in the name of fashion are some of the most abused beings on the planet. Foxes on fur farms spend their whole lives pacing the wire floor of a tiny cage, slowly losing their minds from the extreme confinement and deprivation. On angora rabbit farms, workers violently rip the fur out of rabbits’ skin as the animals scream in pain. Snakes are nailed to trees and skinned alive in the belief that live flaying keeps their skin supple.

But recent footage released by PETA highlighting cruelty documented at 19 wool sheds in Australia—the world’s leading exporter of wool—and on 14 ranches in the U.S. has shocked even many veteran PETA staffers. Shearing sheep for their wool is a violent process that leaves these gentle animals battered and bloodied. I urge everyone reading this to watch the videos on PETA’s website—and then trade in your wool sweaters and jackets for animal-friendly options.

In the wool industry, time is money, and since most shearers are paid by volume, not by the hour, they have an incentive to work as quickly as they can, with little regard for the sheep’s welfare. One worker can shear up to 27 sheep—or 35 lambs—every single hour.

PETA’s investigators in Australia documented that shearers punched the struggling sheep, poked them in the eyes and routinely jabbed them in the face with sharp clippers, leaving them bleeding. In the investigative footage, one sheep’s face can be seen with blood soaking the wool all around it.

Workers stomp on sheep and stand on their heads and necks. They grab and drag sheep by their legs and slam them against the hard floor of the shearing shed. The ordeal doesn’t end until the sheep are completely shorn—and many of the animals are literally thrown down chutes into holding pens.

Terrified lambs, taken from their loving mothers, cry out before and during their first shearing. “They’ve been separated from their mums and they’re calling for them,” one worker explained. “They’re going, ‘Mom! Mom!'”

Because the shearers work so quickly, most sheep are cut—some severely—on their abdomen, hindquarters and limbs. When this happens, workers use a needle and thread to try to sew shut the most gaping wounds—without painkillers and in the same unsterile environment in which the sheep were shorn. Many sheep also have swaths of skin cut or pulled off during shearing. One worker even cut off three sheep’s tails with clippers.

The investigators never saw anyone reprimanded for their callous treatment of the sheep—or any veterinary care administered to them. Instead, injured sheep were shot in full view of their companions. One was butchered, and the body was left where other sheep could see it.

PETA’s investigator in the U.S. documented similar abuses. One shearer repeatedly twisted and bent a sheep’s neck, breaking it. At another ranch, workers hauled a critically ill ram—struggling to breathe—into a trailer to be sheared. The ram was left in the trailer overnight and was found dead the next morning.

Most people would agree that electrocuting foxes for their fur or ripping the skin off live snakes and leaving them to writhe in agony is wrong. The pain and fear endured by sheep in the wool industry are just as real as the suffering of other animals used and abused for their skins.

PETA’s videos are hard to watch. If you care about animals at all, they will upset you. But these animals don’t need our tears. They need our action. When you see the word “wool” on a coat label, please remember the sheep who were beaten bloody and dragged along the floor by their hind legs. And leave that item on the rack.

The military abuse video you haven’t heard about

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Americans and Afghans alike are rightly outraged over a video circulating on the Internet that allegedly shows U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. Pentagon officials are scrambling to do damage control, fearing that the video will hinder peace talks, and military officials are promising that those involved will be punished to the highest extent. But another video that surfaced recently also merits outrage and action: It shows a soldier viciously beating a sheep with a baseball bat while other soldiers laugh and cheer.

Blow after metallic, stomach-churning blow rains down on the terrified sheep’s skull. The convulsing and kicking animal tries in vain to rise and flee, but the man with the bat just keeps swinging. A local boy in the background jumps up and down in apparent delight while the sheep struggles on the ground. Despite a letter and phone calls from PETA to high-ranking Army officials, no action has been taken on this case after more than a month.

Animals don’t start wars. They don’t have political views, militaries or weapons. Yet they are often the victims of cruelty in combat zones. In 2008, video surfaced of a smiling Marine who hurled a live puppy off a cliff while another Marine laughed. Thankfully, after a massive public outcry and pressure from PETA, the puppy-tossing Marine was expelled, and another Marine in the video faced disciplinary action.

The same year, video that was allegedly taken from a CD found in Baghdad’s Green Zone depicts what appear to be U.S. soldiers taunting and tormenting a dog whose back legs were apparently crippled. The laughing men threw rocks at the dog, who snarled and yelped in pain before making a desperate attempt to flee on two legs. One of the men in the video said the dog’s attempt to run was “the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Many other similar incidents of abuse have been recorded on video, and many more likely never see the light of day.

Whether the abuser is a military service member or a regular Joe, cruelty to animals isn’t “normal” behavior, and it must be taken seriously, for everyone’s safety. People who find pleasure or humor in harming animals aren’t just cruel; they’re also cowards because they target “easy victims” who don’t have any hope of fighting back.

Mental-health and law-enforcement professionals know that animal abusers’ disregard for life and indifference to suffering indicate a dangerous psychopathy that does not confine itself to animal victims. A history of cruelty to animals regularly shows up in the FBI records of serial rapists and murderers, and a study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. Violence is a fact of war, but the depravity shown by the sheep-beating soldier and the sick pleasure the onlookers seemed to derive from watching the beating are red flags.

All the students who have opened fire on their classmates have histories of cruelty to animals. “BTK” killer Dennis Rader, who was convicted of killing 10 people, admitted that he was cruel to animals as a child and apparently practiced strangling dogs and cats before moving on to human victims. Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer tortured animals and impaled cats’ and dogs’ heads on sticks. The Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, used arrows to shoot cats and dogs who were trapped inside crates.

Whether it occurs at home or in a war zone, there is never an excuse for harming animals. The stakes of cruelty to animals are far too high to ignore it, to excuse it or to let those who commit it go unpunished. It’s time for the military to treat acts of cruelty to animals with the seriousness that they deserve.