Have you ever shared cute animal videos and images of calves running freely on farms, dogs arguing with their humans for some extra walks and treats and some animals getting overly pampered? Doesn’t it evoke positive emotions and set a smile on our faces when we view them? The way these animals express their emotions, their fears, their anger, their jealousy and their love just leaves us in awe and wonder.
Apart from these adorable videos, we still see and hear a lot about animal cruelty. But somehow I just chose to believe that people in my state do not mistreat animals. The videos I’d watched and the articles I’d read were shared by people from a different state or a different country. And I would delude myself in believing that it does not happen everywhere, in particular not where I live.
I’m sure many of us want to believe the same, especially when it comes to standard animal agricultural practices. The images used to market the products sold by the meat and dairy industries creates a false perception in our minds that animals are well cared for.
Seeing is believing
You probably won’t believe the stuff you see on the internet, but you will have to visit rescue shelters or farms and hear the stories from the rescuers themselves. Atul Sarin, owner of WAG (Welfare for animals in Goa) which is established in Siolim was kind enough to host us for a potluck as a part of the Vegan India Movement on 17th March 2018. He uses his place as a shelter for rescued stray animals. His shelter is home to a number of different animals such as cats, dogs, turkeys, monkeys, and over 40 cows and calves.
When we visited WAG, Aditya, Gemini and I were welcomed by over more than 20 inquisitive cows. They stared at us curiously for a while. One cow even tried to reach for the food I carried for the potluck. The cows are very much like dogs in the way they interact with humans, silly and cute. Atul and Crysel showed us around. They introduced us to all their rescues.
The dogs and cats rescued were cases of negligence by owners, abuse and strays. Crysel also introduced us to the sad past of a monkey they had recently rescued. The monkey, deprived of all her freedom, was used as a “dancing monkey”. She was always kept tied in a metal cage with no room to stand which resulted in a slight deformation to her body and wounds to her butt. She was attacked by local dogs and has lost one arm. We did not go quite close to the monkey as we didn’t want her to feel overwhelmed with too many visitors. Sadly she cannot be released into the wild due to her condition.
Humane milk is a myth
One particular incident that caught our attention was that of a mother cow fondly called as ‘mama’ and her newborn calf. The rescuers found this cow while she was pregnant, wandering the streets eating garbage and plastic. No dairy farmer came forward to claim her ownership.
The calf was born just two days before our visit and had a defect in his limbs which prevented him from walking on his own. Therefore, the volunteers had to feed him milk through a feeder. The mother was very protective of her baby and did not like people coming close to him. So in order to feed him, they had to tie the mother up so that she would not interfere.
‘Mama’ showed resistance whenever she was pulled away from her calf. We could all see the distress expressed by the mother as she was tied up and could do nothing but watch as they picked up her baby and started feeding him through a feeder. Seeing this particularly hit us hard because we realised that everything we’ve heard and read about the practices in the dairy industry was indeed true.
In the dairy industry, cows are forcefully impregnated as she can only produce milk when she’s pregnant. Once the baby is born, the baby is immediately separated from the mother so that we can steal the milk that rightfully belongs to her baby.
If the calf is male, he is killed as he is useless to the dairy industry. And if it’s a female, she meets the same fate as her mother. The mother cow is then slaughtered for meat when she can no longer produce milk. So we managed to get a glimpse of what really goes on in the dairy industry. Mr. Atul pointed this out in his interview with a reporter that joined us for the potluck.
We got to witness two giant jersey cows as well. These cows are “spent”, which means they are unable to produce milk anymore and were luckily rescued from being sold to the meat industry.
While we spent some time playing and interacting with all the rescued animals, Aditya made a very strong remark,
“I’m happy to see all these rescued animals at the shelter. It pains to think that over 56 billion land animals are tortured and killed globally by the meat and dairy industries unnecessarily. While all the animals here are shown love and affection, the animals raised for food will never know what it is to be loved. They will never get a drop of compassion showed to them. They are only viewed as commodities to make profit from instead of being viewed as sentient beings who have the ability to love and to suffer in the same way as humans do. This speaks a lot about what we as a species really are.
Let’s work to create a better world not just for ourselves but for the animals as well. Visit WAG. Show them your love and support. Share their rescue stories and raise and spread awareness. They have animals that need loving forever homes. Let “rescued” be your favorite breed.