Over a month ago, I wrote about how upset I, and many of you, became after viewing the undercover expose on Conklin Dairy Farm in Ohio. My outrage was reawakened when I heard last week that an Ohio grand jury dismissed all charges against Gary Conklin, owner of Conklin Dairy. In the video, Conklin is clearly seen kicking a downed cow, an animal so sick or injured that she was unable to walk or even stand. During the legal proceedings, four large animal veterinarians told the court that what Conklin did was “standard practice” in the animal agriculture industry and that it was an appropriate and necessary method to get a non-ambulatory animal to move.
It speaks volumes about the animal agriculture industry that the action of kicking a sick animal is the norm and not an abhorrent exception. Humane alternatives do exist to the “standard practice” that Gary Conklin engaged in. As I mentioned in my previous blog post on Conklin, Farm Sanctuary uses a harness attached to a tractor to gently lift animals who can’t walk to their feet. The fact that such alternatives are not even considered is a direct result of the industry’s misconception of farm animals as mere commodities, items to be used and exploited, rather than sentient beings capable of suffering and deserving of respect.
What made the grand jury’s decision all the more upsetting is that the four large animal veterinarians sided with the industry. It is such a travesty that those who are supposed to provide care to animals and who have taken an oath to relieve suffering are the very people sanctioning abuse in the name of industrial production. If this tragic state of affairs continues, the animals don’t stand a chance.
Just as we balk when we remember the days when teachers were allowed to hit students, we will eventually look back on the events that occurred at Conklin Dairy and factory farms around the country and wonder, how did we let this happen? We must demand change to protect dairy cows and other farm animals from this sort of appalling mistreatment and we need to do so immediately. Until the industry itself is changed, practices like kicking downed cattle will persist. It is up to concerned people like us to speak up on behalf of farm animals everywhere and shift the standard from cruelty to compassion.