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Hurry Up and Die

Hurry Up and Die

Many readers have likely heard the story of Elizabeth Carlisle, a 20-year-old employee of Petland in Akron, Ohio. Elizabeth recently became the latest target of the anger of animal advocates, after she posted a gruesome picture of herself on her Facebook page. The picture, taken by the store manager, shows Elizabeth grinning as she holds up the limp bodies of two rabbits she had just drowned.

In Elizabeth’s own words, supposedly from her Facebook profile, “The manager took the pic for me. She reminded me that there were people outside as I was swearing at them (the rabbits) to just hurry up and die but then she was so kind as to take this picture.”

There has been quite a bit of commentary about this incident. Elizabeth is facing charges, and animal advocates are imploring the concerned public to demand that she be punished to the full extent of the law. Petland has closed the store, and has issued a predictable statement:

“This is an isolated incident that is horrific and inexcusable and will not be tolerated. Petland will take any and all action necessary as this does not, in any way, represent the culture and dedication to animal care of the thousands of caring Petland employees working across the country every day… Petland will in no way, shape or form tolerate any abuse of animals in its care… We are outraged at this gross violation of Petland’s animal care standards.”

Let’s take a quick look at Petland’s animal care standards, shall we? According to one website dedicated to exposing the unpleasant realities of this mega-chain of animal exploitation:

“People who take jobs at Petland because they love animals sooner or later find out, as one told us, ‘It’s all about time and money.’ This employee saw a lot of deaths among the small animals at the Fairfax City store, particularly birds and hamsters, and saw that many of the puppies arrived with respiratory problems. The puppies also had sores from lying on the hard mesh cage floors. Another Fairfax City Petland employee tried to nurture the puppies and was told something along the lines of, ‘They don’t need petting; they’re just money. If you want to do that, go to the shelter.’ An employee from another Petland told us that puppies are taken from their mothers at 5 weeks old and go through so much stress and handling that Petland recommends that once the puppy arrives at the store, he or she be left alone for 48 hours. Our local Petland puts puppies on display immediately, and they are available for sale about 24 hours later.”

In Petland stores, puppies are housed in rows of mesh-floored cages and, “if they’re lucky, a hard floor tile, about 1 foot by 1 foot, which is supposed to serve as their bed.” A number of stores have been found in violation of the law that forbids floors made of mesh wide enough to allow the animals’ feet to fall through, which often causes injuries. Kittens, rabbits, parakeets, parrots, chinchillas, ferrets, hamsters, fishes, and a variety of other animals are also housed in cramped cages or aquariums and are sold with a minimum of instruction on how to properly care for them.

In 2008, an investigation linked Petlands all over the U.S. to puppy mills. No surprise there. Puppy mills are animal factories, where dogs are treated as breeding machines. Laws provide little meaningful protection for animals being used for profit, so gross welfare violations are common in these facilities. Tens of thousands of baby animals every year, many of them seriously sick or even dying, are sold at Petland stores, frequently after being shipped over several hundred miles.

It’s outrageous to think that this business remains legal, while every year, millions of animals in shelters – many of them abandoned after being purchased from places like Petland – are ‘put to sleep’. Put to sleep – how’s that for the ultimate euphemism? Let’s tell it like it is. These homeless animals are not put to sleep. They are killed, slaughtered, murdered.

It sure is hard to believe, sometimes, what the human species is capable of justifying.

But as for Petland, was this display of callousness toward the living merchandise really an isolated incident?

Petland is a huge chain of pet stores that treats animals like merchandise, complete with a price tag and a warranty. These animals are economic commodities – mass-produced, warehoused and transported like any other merchandise, and bought and sold like inanimate objects. Baby animals, only barely separated from their mothers, are sold to anyone who walks in off the street, ending up with a 70% chance of being abandoned two years down the line.

It is all so grotesquely absurd… With all our cold-heartedness toward animals – we eat them, we wear them, we kill them for sport, and pay money to watch them be abused – somehow, we still long to be near them, to share our lives with them, and to take joy in their beauty and innocence. And so, in some horrible confusion, we buy them, sell them, and thereby enslave them.

And now Elizabeth Carlisle appears on the stage, unwittingly stumbling into her fifteen minutes of fame as the latest animal abuser toward whom we can channel our collective and individual guilt-turned-anger. Carlisle’s actions, of course, were contemptible, but it seems to me that she offers us an opportunity to address a more significant issue.

When a person takes pleasure in inflicting suffering, it indicates something deeply disturbing within the individual, but it also indicates something deeply disturbing about the culture which produces such individuals. I’m not talking about Elizabeth’s family, or her upbringing, or her circumstances. I’m talking about something much more universal – the cultural paradigm we are all born into, which teaches us that animals are not entitled to the most basic of all rights: the right to life, the right to freedom, and the right to live on their own terms, without being the property of another. This is true for all animals, from dogs and cats, to cows and pigs, to whales, dolphins, tigers and elephants. They have no real protection under the law. As long as there is profit to be made from using them, they will be used. And as long as they are used, they will be abused.

Every day, all over the world, pets, entertainment animals, victims of vivisection, and animals used for food, clothing and other human pleasures suffer horrific abuses, and all over the world, people go on as if there is nothing wrong with this. Some of the same people who are rightly horrified at the behavior of Elizabeth Carlisle and her manager are not willing to acknowledge their own participation in the legal torture endured by other animals.
 
When we cast stones at Elizabeth Carlisle and Co, we should remember that these abuses exist as a result of something much bigger than one person taking delight in cruelty. Petland, puppy mills, slaughterhouses and other animal abuse factories exist because regular people believe they have a right to buy and own an animal’s life. As long as people maintain such a belief, our society will continue to manufacture cold-hearted killers, like Teressa Groenewald-Hagerman, Michael Vick, Sarah Palin, and most recently, Elizabeth Carlisle.

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218 comments

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8:09PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Horrible

8:08PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Horrible

11:00AM PDT on Aug 14, 2012

This murderous female scum needs to be drowned.

3:55AM PST on Jan 3, 2010

too many pets in shelters waiting for a home.

10:29AM PDT on Sep 23, 2009

in my opinion there is not one of these pet stores that shud be in operation ,there is only one reasone why they opperate and we know what that is,they are nothing but tourcher chamber's and the last thing they care about is the wellbeing of the animals,people that support these places shud be charged with animal cruelty,because that is what it is,people are you that blind!

4:57AM PDT on Sep 6, 2009

Sorry I meant to write "I don't think that any animals *should be marketed"

4:54AM PDT on Sep 6, 2009

Delores Diamond - "The only thing I have wondered about is the fact that you do have breeders that sell with the stipulation that you will not breed the pet you are buying.EXCUSE ME ALL TO PIECES-but did they not breed to get these dogs and will do it again?"

Delores - Exactly, there is no mystery here.. the breeders want to breed the animals themselves because otherwise if others breed them it takes income out of their pockets.
It seems to be a clear example of some breeders real motivation.
and yes I agree, they should be ashamed.

I don't think that any animals should not be marketed, it is very unfair and not respectful to the animals lives at all.

1:55PM PDT on Sep 1, 2009

Very well said Paula. I won't give up either. If forced to choose between all or nothing, I fear the choice many in the middle will make. NOT good for animals. I do my part and appreciate any little bit anyone else does to help.

I started a rescue and too many people feel if they cannot donate money or foster a dog, they cannot help. WRONG. I can find MANY ways you can help that won't cost a dime, or put a dog in your home, and appreciate any amount of help one can give.

8:00AM PDT on Sep 1, 2009

In reading this article, I don't know what to do anymore. I give to advocacy groups for animal rights and such. I try to be that voice for beings that dont speak our language. I am told not to support these kind of businesses that are inhumane and work with breeding mills. And I dont support them and I try to spread the word.

So what, if I and others dont support these businesses they will murder the animals anyway? and more will be bred anyway? I just dont friggin know. There have been huge evidenciary investigations into these puppy mills by PETA and what happened? THAT one was fined or shut down for a while or something, and I know that they are breeding again. It's just very sad and I know that reading and informing ourselves about these things should help to slowly make change, but I dont see any penalties that would even come close to crimes against humans. I saw people applauding Michael Vick on TV last weekend when he came out onto the football field. He was killing dogs and puppies for pleasure. He admitted it! How disgusting! I dont believe that I have to be PERFECT to try to fight for animal rights. Nobody is perfect anyway. I'm just going to keep on making decisions to support animals that I see as ethical.

10:05AM PDT on Aug 31, 2009

There has been so many comments that it's became mind boggleing to even attempt to read them all. The only thing I have wondered about is the fact that you do have breeders that
sell with the stipulation that you will not breed the pet you are buying.EXCUSE ME ALL TO PIECES-but did they not breed to get these dogs and will do it again? YEAH RIGHT! Give me a break...They ar also ones who should be ashamed .

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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