Adopt-a-Pet received an email recently which illustrates South Africa's shame in its ongoing cruelty to animals.  Research has proved that cruelty to helpless animals creates a mindset where life has no value and it is but a short step to perpetrating violence towards one's fellow human beings, especially the helpless in our society such as children, women and the elderly who can't fight back. Evidence of the violence that plagues our society is splashed on the front pages of our newspapers every day.

The email referred to an eye-witness account about the viciousness meted out to a newborn male calf being forced to walk five kilometres in 30 degree heat to a dairy farm in Riversdale.  We quote: "Only hours out of the womb, a dairy calf's eye was split open this week by a savage kick in an attempt to make him stand up" after he had collapsed in the road from the heat, with his umbilical cord still hanging, unable to move,  while trying to follow his mother who was being chased down the road to the dairy.  The labourer kept kicking the calf to make him stand up, until his eye split open. A witness was quoted as saying that "Die kalfie se oogie is heeltemaal oopgeskop." Kind people drove the calf to the dairy where they were horrifed to see that it was unloaded into a little "hokkie" made from "portable gates, on hard rocky soil, with nowhere soft to lie." They pulled a piece of corrugated iron over the top for shade. The witness was "crying so hard" that someone went to talk to the farmer who said he would talk to his worker.   According to the witness  "it is nothing new. It happens all the time. These little boy calves in the dairy industry are going to be slaughtered anyway but while they are alive, please let their lives be worth living. " 

Comment: The above incident has haunted me since I first read it for several reasons:

  • Cruelty in any form can never be justified. Have South Africans become a nation without pity?  Can one justify drinking the milk from these dairy cows whose male calves have been brutally treated and removed after birth only to be slaughtered? 

  • After a cow gives birth it is her natural instict to lick and nurture her calf and to give it her milk to drink. The pangs of grieving after a cow's calf has been removed after birth have been documented. The cow bellows for her calf, but she is separated and her milk is used to feed humans (who incidentally are the only mammals who drink milk after weaning). So cows are perpetually pregnant, otherwise there would be no milk. The male calves are immediately killed often with great cruelty and the female calves will follow the same miserable process as their mothers.  Are we justified in doing this? Are farmers who are driven by profit justified in perpetuating this cruelty? 

  • Next time you visit a supermarket, give some thought to the source of the veal packed in the styrofoam containers wrapped neatly in gladwrap. Do the same with the milk, yoghourt, cream and cheese before you buy.

  •  We would do well to remember Albert Schweitzer's words of wisdom in his "Philosophy of Civilisation" namely that "Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself know peace."

  • I am glad that I am a vegetarian and have been for the past 32 years.

  • What would YOU have done if you had been a witness to this cruelty? Only public opinion can change the cruelty, but South Africans have to shake themselves out of their traditional lethargy and take a stand. 

  • Please click on "Community Work" on the home page, where the subject of sensitisation to suffering is being practically and successfully implemented by Adopt-a-Pet's youth enrichment programmes.