Back in the 1960's my father took a job as MIS Director with the Quaker Oats Company in Chicago. Wanting to know as much about the company as possible, he visited all of their divisions and took a crash course in how the company made cereal, cookies, etc. One of Quaker's divisions at the time was Ken-L Ration, which was a popular dog food (Anybody remember the jingle, "My dog's faster than your dog..."?). My father learned firsthand how the product was made, which mainly consisted of horse meat. It was a very efficient operation and the company took great pride in how quickly and sanitary the process was to slaughter the animal and process it into dog food. So much so, Ken-L Ration was one of the few dog foods fit for human consumption. I won't go into detail as to how the animals were killed, but suffice it to say it was done very methodically and almost instantaneously so as not to cause the animal prolonged pain. The slaughterhouses have it down to a science and, in a way, they are much more humane than a lot of pet owners out there.
Man's relationship with animals is rather interesting. They have served us as companions, and as invaluable assistants in everything from hunting and transportation, to construction and menial tasks. We have used them for entertainment and sport, but more than anything we like to simply have them as pets. Dogs and cats predominantly take center stage when it comes to house pets, but it is not unusual to see caged mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, fish, parrots and canaries. Then, of course, there are the exotic animals creeping into homes, such as lizards and snakes, large cats, insects, monkeys, even bears. Many of the exotic animals can be dangerous if improperly handled and require considerable commitment to maintain them properly. I don't understand why people need such animals; I can only suspect it is primarily used to somehow attract attention. For example, why in the world would someone want to own a komodo dragon?
Last year, there was an incident reported here in Florida where a husband's pet python somehow escaped its cage and strangled his two year old infant in its bed. We also have a major problem down in the Everglades where people let their pets escape after they become tired or bored with them. As a result, we now have pythons and Boa constrictors challenging alligators for domination of the area.
It's bad enough that people want such pets, but who are the knuckle heads allowing this? Don't we have some heavy fines or penalties for owning such animals? If not, does anyone check to see if the owner has suitable facilities for maintaining the animal, or if they have proper training? It's a bit disconcerting to know there are fewer rules and regulations for obtaining a deadly animal as opposed to a gun. At least a gun doesn't have a mind of its own and doesn't require constant care and feeding.
Then we have the people who are either "hoarders" of animals or treat them as nothing more than a commodity. The "hoarders" are those who have dozens of cats or dogs running amok in their house. I guess the smell of feces and urine doesn't seem to bother some people, but it does promote the spreading of disease and attraction of vermin. Those who see pets as nothing more than a commodity are totally insensitive to animals as living organisms. These are the people who treat animals the most callously.
I don't know why we find it necessary to mistreat, abuse or neglect animals, but I think it says a lot about our sense of humanity. I have always been of the opinion there is a personal responsibility associated with having or working with animals. If we have a pet to comfort us, we should love and respect it, not abuse it. If we have an animal to work for us, we have to give it the same care and attention as we would give any piece of equipment, be it a tractor or truck. It's not smart to starve or abuse your workers, be they two legged or four. It just doesn't make sense.
There are laws to protect animals against cruelty and abuse throughout the United States. If you have got a concern about an animal being abused, contact local law enforcement officials. You may also want to report it to:
ASPCA - American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
These groups also accept donations which assists them in their work to protect animals.
If you are sincerely concerned about the mistreatment of animals, the worse thing you can do is to do nothing. In this instance, where the victims cannot speak for themselves, turning away from a known problem makes you just as guilty as the person committing the act.
As a footnote to my father's visit to the Kel-L Ration slautherhouse, as efficient as the company's operation was to kill and butcher the animals, it was a bit much for someone unfamiliar with such work. When my father called home that afternoon, he asked my mother what she had planned for dinner. For some strange reason, the idea of a "roast beef" didn't exactly sit well with him.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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