The Ghosts in Our Machine is one of my all time favorite documentaries about cruel nonhuman animal consumption for profit industries around the world. In one of the opening scenes of the movie, Jo-Anne McArthur, photojournalist extraordinaire, is seen driving to a fur farm in Sweden in the early hours of the morning in order enter the buildings and take pictures of the enslaved, mistreated, ill and frightened foxes who are being exploited for their fur.
Fast forward to our mini holiday two weekends ago as we are tootling down the road for a Plant Strong Weekend with Rip Esselstyn and company. We are listening to CBC when we hear of a fox and mink farm north of Montreal which has been under investigation by the SPCA and ‘monitored” by the Quebec Minsistry of Flora, Fauna and Parks for ongoing abuse of these beings. Don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing myself to Jo-Anne and the work that she does, but I do find it ironic that little old advocate me should be in the car when I hear of this gross mistreatment as well as the various reactions by the powers that be. According to Humane Society International /Canada,
the foxes are in critical condition and suffer from serious health problems, including dehydration, emaciation, toe and tooth fractures, tail injuries, ear and eye infections, internal bleeding and neurological issues.
If memory serves, the CBC was interviewing someone from the Fur Council of Canada who said that this is an isolated incidence of mistreatment.
He said that farmers who own and “raise” foxes and minks for the express purpose of selling their fur have an obvious interest in maintaining the “integrity of the pelts” (his words, not mine). So, even though there are no governmental regulations in place to protect these beings, the farmers self regulate in order to protect their investment. He briefly mentioned the ethical issue of treating beings in this manner, but only in terms of ‘raising ‘ them not in terms of holding them hostage and ultimately killing them.
There was a huge outcry by nonhuman animal rights groups, including the SPCA, who first investigated this farm in May of 2014. There was a province wide appeal to the Quebec Government to rescue these very mistreated and ill beings. The government’s stance is that they are monitoring the situation and want to give the farmer(s) a chance to improve the conditions.
On August 20th, the CBC reported that someone had broken in to the facility and released 1000 minks. According to Alan Herscovici of the Fur Council Of Canada,
…..when mink are released like this, irresponsibly, most of the mink are killed.
…many of the animals would likely be hit by cars because they’re attracted to the sound of engines, which they mistake for the feeding mechanism back at the farm.
..the mink are aggressive, and it is possible the released animals will attack other smaller animals.
These two incidents come on the heels of an August 9th, 2014 announcement by the new Quebec Minister of Agriculture, Pierre Paradis concerning the legal, moral status of nonhumans.
We’re looking into the judicial consequences of that but we don’t want it (the animal) to remain personal property.
We’re right in the middle of a free-trade deal with Europe and we will be affected if we do not adjust.
We’re seeing how things are evolving in Europe on agricultural farms — there are larger cages for pigs and more space for chickens. If you’re not part of this movement, you’re going to be excluded.
We were inspired by what was done in France, where they redefined the concept of the animal as a being that is capable of feeling pain.
We’re looking into the judicial consequences of that but we don’t want it (the animal) to remain personal property.”
Gandhi said the evolution of a society can be judged in the way it treats its animals. There’s room for evolution here.
Here is what I take issue with:
Ministry of Health, Flora and Fauna:
Adopting a wait and see attitude after they were provided evidence of gross mistreatment and abuse of the foxes is neither cool, not acceptable. The farmer obviously does not have the best interests of these beings at heart.
Fur Council of Canada:
I find it impossible to believe that this is an isolated incidence of abuse in the farmed for profit fur industry. The documentation and photos provided by undercover investigations are far too damning.
Minister of Agriculture:
M. Paradis mostly talks about how nonhumans as persons in the Civil Code will benefit Quebec, its economy and its reputation worldwide. He refers to these “soon to be persons” as it. We need to free nonhumans, not give them bigger cages.
The Release of the Minks:
I am on the fence about this. It is my inclination to support efforts to come to the immediate aid of those suffering. I sometimes wonder if the act itself is what the media and naysayers pounce on in order to discredit nonhuman animal advocates. We are labelled as radical and acting outside the law and therefore, not credible and certainly not mainstream.
My vegan friend Cindy has this to say:
I don’t think all animal rights activists should be seen as militant, violent or as “terrorists”. Of course, there is a fraction that is seen in this light. Historically, I think the animal rights activists have shown the world the cruel and deplorable conditions for factory farmed animals and a lot lot more. By exposing what is going on in the fur industry, you’re not necessarily supporting the animal rights activists’ actions.
Most of those mink won’t survive but for some of them, instinct will kick in and they will surely be better off than where they were. Even ducks (and geese) who were gavaged and had never seen water, very quickly figured out what to do when they were released.
Annie’s Vegan ViewAtrocities like this are ongoing in so many parts of the world. The focus continues to be on the human element and what is good for us.
If we work only to improve the lives of these beings, they will never be free.
Industries, like the fur industry, supply a completely non essential fashion product to those with enough money to pay.
The fur industry is not, as the Fur Council of Canada says on its website, A Canadian Heritage Industry in Harmony with Nature. It is an industry perpetuated by cruelty and fueled by greed. It needs to end.
Therein lies our own salvation.
May all beings be happy and free.Anne