The disturbing Mercy for Animals (MFA) undercover video of the E6 Cattle Ranch in Texas was so graphic it has caused tremendous controversy. CNN reported on it and was allowed to show only minimal excerpts from the filming.
Even more discouraging, it helped to spurn on attempts by lawmakers to create so-called “ag-gag” bills, making undercover videotaping and photographing of such abuse at factory farms, a crime. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the [MFA E6 Cattle Ranch] video helped to push June futures down 1.3% to $1.1565 a pound after the contract hit a two-week high earlier in the trading day.”
The Minnesota ag-gag bill seeks to punish not only those who videotape factory farm abuse, but anyone who distributes the film. In Iowa, the ag-gag bill has passed the house and is moving along in the senate. Thankfully the Florida bill was recently voted down.
Good News from Bad
Yet, some positive news has been born from it. Before the video was made public, Mercy for Animals, in conjunction with The Gentle Barn, partnered to rescue four of the sickly calves from the E6 Cattle Ranch. The undercover investigator who filmed the egregious abuse was able to negotiate saving the lives of four calves and through MFA, these young calves were taken to live out their lives at The Gentle Barn. They were named Mercy, Bob, Ari and Roy. To see the progress of the four E6 calves, visit The Gentle Barn.org as well as their Facebook page.
The Gentle Barn is a California-based center “that takes in animals that can’t find homes because they are too damaged.” according to Ellie Laks, Founder. The Gentle Barn’s mission is twofold. Through saving the lives of abused animals, The Gentle Barn helps abused children heal their emotional wounds by letting the kids identify with the animals’ stories. It provides a method for the children — victims of abuse — to talk about and deal with the horrible experiences in their lives by listening to the stories of abused animals.
The NY Times’ Mark Bittman asks Who Protects the Animals? Indeed, this is the very question we should all be asking ourselves. According to MFA’s Executive Director, Nathan Runkle, there are no laws to protect animals from abuse on factory farms. The only anti-abuse laws for animals that join the food chain relates to slaughterhouses — a brief time in the lives of factory-farmed animals.
How You Can Help
Education and awareness is the first step. Once you make the connection between factory farming and the food on your plate, you may consider becoming vegetarian or vegan. I must confess, as a baby-boomer who was taught meat, dairy and eggs are the healthy choice, it took me many years to force myself to look at the undercover videos. Why? In a word — denial. I knew if I saw what really takes place, I could no longer participate in the cruelty of factory-farmed food. And I really didn’t want to give up the taste of lemon-marinated chicken, a fluffy cheese omelet or a medium-rare rib eye steak fresh off the grill.
Once I allowed myself to view an entire video of cruelty on factory farms, I wiped my eyes and blew my nose and the decision was made. The truth is I have never — not even once — missed meat of any kind because I am enjoying discovering the savory tastes and textures of plant-based foods. Take it from someone who never enjoyed veggies as a child: the variety of vegan and vegetarian foods is better than anything derived from an animal.
Want to do more to help animals in your community? Vote for your favorite animal shelter and help your local rescue win up to $15,000 during an America’s Favorite Animal Shelter contest sponsored by Care2, ASPCA and Adopt-a-Pet.com. The contest runs from May 16th to July 10th so vote for your favorite shelter today. Vote at http://www.care2.com/animalsheltercontest/
Photo Credit: Screen shot shows the four calves rescued from E6 Cattle Ranch -- Mercy, Bob, Ari and Roy -- by Mercy for Animals and The Gentle Barn.