It’s fair season in many parts of the United States and that marks a time when thousands will descend upon their local fairgrounds to play games, enter competitions and to showcase the finest selection of their pumpkin harvest. But there’s a darker side to what goes on underneath the tents and in the grassy fields here as animals become a spectacle at a hefty price.
“The Altamont Fair is advertising that they will display a live birth everyday they are open,” Nicole Arciello Berhaupt explained in a column in the Times Union. “How is taking a cow that is about to go into labor out of her ‘home’, forcing her into a truck and bringing her into the middle of a fair with lights, loud noises, rides and many, many people educational, or humane? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to have a baby in those conditions. How can people not see this as traumatic?”
And Nicole is not alone. She is one of the few voices beginning to speak up about the wellbeing of animals at fair grounds.
Toronto-based photographer Jo-Anne McArthur writes the blog We Animals and has been documenting the Royal Fair there for the past 12 years. She expresses tremendous concern over the misrepresentation of farming and of the behind-the-scenes violence in the rodeo.
“From the stands, you will see men and boys being bucked around by bulls and horses,” Jo-Anne writes. ” If you look closer, behind the scenes and behind the chutes, you would see electric prods being used to move animals and large sticks coming down on their backs to make them move from one spot to the next. You would see wounds on their flanks, legs and faces. You would see animals in a state of terror while being saddled up and confined in a chute, before having a strap pulled tight against their sensitive flanks which makes them buck madly to get rid of the thing. You would see animals shipped to the slaughterhouse if they have sustained serious injuries and can no longer perform.”
Just two days ago, animal advocate Lori Brown of Florida was visiting her county fair when she came across an exhibit of an emu being held beneath a chicken wire coop. The fencing was so low that the animal had to creep around in a hunched position. Lori began making complaints.
“I called the fair to express my concerns and was told someone would be calling me back,” Lori said. “Well, no one ever did. So today I went back by the fair and showed them the video and explained that this was cruel confinement. The only thing they offered up was that things would be different next year.”
So Lori decided to take matters into her own hands and reached out to friends on Facebook who joined in with additional phone calls, and suddenly the matter was resolved. The emu was relocated to a more suitable area and one wonders if anything would have been done were it not for the others who rallied and made phone calls to the fair.
So the question is, what would you do? If you came upon a situation of cruelty or neglect, would you speak out? Would you be willing to ask family and friends to lend their voices too? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.
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