The Inevitability of Dead Racehorses

On the central matter of "casualties" and "catastrophic breakdowns," while drugs, pre-existing injuries, track conditions, etc. are all certainly relevant, the simple truth is that the maiming and destruction of racehorses is inherent to the industry. Death at the track is, always has been, and always will be an inevitable part of racing.

And here's why:

First, the anatomy. The typical horse does not reach full maturity - his bones are not done growing, plates not done fusing - till around six. And the higher up the horse's body, the slower the process, so that the bones in the spine and neck, of all places, are the last to finish. The typical racehorse is (forever) torn from his mother at a year of age or less and thrust into an intensive training regimen with an eye toward racing him at two. On the maturation chart, a 2-year-old horse is the rough equivalent of a 6-year-old child. Imagine that. And this is something that will not change, for waiting till six to train and race horses would be cost prohibitive. It's never going to happen.

Second, the horserace itself is an unequivocally unnatural act. This, of course, flies in the face of what we've forever been told by the racing people - that horses are born to run, love to run, that they're merely being "guided" through their natural paces. Nothing could be further from the truth. Horses running - playing, frolicking, socializing - in an open field bears no resemblance to what happens at a racetrack. There, perched humans compel their charges to a breakneck speed - with a whip. There is no choice, no free will, no autonomy for naturally autonomous beings. Simply put, it is coercion through pain.

Furthermore, in nature, horses, like all animals, understand self-preservation. So that if injured, they know to stop, rest, and, if possible, heal. At the track, not only are many of the injured "urged on" by their whip-wielding "teammates," but in a cruel twist, often try desperately to stay with their artificial herds. Here again, no change is forthcoming, for the horserace can only exist by force.

Third, the economic realities of the business. The racing people are fond of saying, "since our success depends on healthy, happy horses, why would we do anything to compromise that?" Well, first, happy is more than mere sustenance and shelter, and healthy is more than an ability to run. But beyond that, it's crucial that the public understands how this industry works: The vast majority of racehorses are bought and sold multiple times over the course of their so-called careers, careers that generally don't last long to begin with. So, the earning window for the current connections is almost always short-term - could be a few races, maybe a few months, possibly even a year or two, but the bottom line is that as a rule, the long-term well-being of the horse is of no concern. It's maximize profits now, by all means available - this, of course, is where the drugging, doping, and joint injections factor in.

And because most horses are worth less than a decent used car, and because most purses are artificially jacked up with casino cash - cash that also allows many tracks to pay first through last - the horseman's breakdown-risk to earnings-reward ratio is quite attractive. And because there's always ample, affordable inventory, when problems do arise, they can always dump off to the next guy and acquire anew.

And this leads to my final and most important point, and that is: The fundamental relationship itself - that of owner/owned - guarantees bad things will happen. Guarantees. By definition, a piece of property, a commodity, a resource, a means - all of which undeniably describe the racehorse - can have no meaningful protection under the law. In fact, it's absurd to argue otherwise. Truth is, a horseman, if he so chooses, can run his horse into the ground - yes, even to death - with virtual impunity. There is no real accountability because this core relationship precludes real accountability - neither the industry nor our society will ever seriously punish a property owner for crimes against his property. Again, to say differently is pure folly.

Moreover, as it is with all animal-exploitation businesses, the law - as represented by anti-cruelty statutes - invariably defers to "common industry practice"; for 150 years of American horseracing, broken and dead bodies have been seen and treated as an unfortunate cost of doing business. In short, no one is watching; no one cares. In truth, to the racing industry, to government, to our society at large, a racehorse's life does not matter. Alive or dead, it just doesn't matter. So because of all this, I'm here to argue that short of shuttering the betting windows altogether, there is nothing they can do to stop the carnage. Nothing. And what's more, they know it.

- Patrick Battuello

This Is Fur

“We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.” (William Ralph Inge, Anglican priest and Cambridge professor, 1860-1954)

Because it’s more efficient (and, ironically, modern sensibilities trend against “cruel” trapping), roughly 70%-80% of the world’s fur comes from “farms” or “ranches.” This is fur (and yes, they are graphic)…








China is the world’s largest exporter of finished fur products. When threatened with a boycott of its 2008 Olympics, a spokesman for the Chinese Ambassador to London rather poignantly said, “…the fur trade mostly feeds markets in the US and Europe. Most of this fur is not for the Chinese market. So the Americans and Europeans should accept the blame. We have no plans to clamp down on this internally that I am aware of – it is for the US and Europeans to take their own action. They should boycott fur as a fashion material.”




Marketing one of the more abhorrent products on the planet requires Goebbels-like deftness, and no one does it better than the Fur Commission USA. Calling furbearers “renewable resources” (like the plant cotton) and themselves protectors (from the big, bad predators who would otherwise rend the helpless furballs), the fur people stoop to an almost unrivaled level of depravity, including coloring books and field trips.

“In the wild, most young mink don’t survive through the first year. In contrast, a farmer’s care ensures that almost all domesticated mink live until the end of the year, when they are harvested.” The mink are indulged with “good nutrition, comfortable housing and prompt veterinary care.”




Even in fur’s sanitized version, at least some truth remains irrepressible. In clean, sterile Nova Scotia, the farm’s host can’t help but refer to the endgame as euthanasia – the mobile carbon monoxide-filled “harvest box” “should [knock the mink] unconscious” and “will euthanzie them fairly humanely and quickly.” “Should” and “fairly.” But if indeed this is humane release from suffering, mercy killing, euthanasia defined, then the prosecution, as it were, can rest: Fur is cruel.




Born Free USA report on the North American fur industry

Civilized Barbarity

Bullfighting, the sport; bullfighting, the artform; bullfighting, the show:

Amid palpable excitement, the players parade into the arena, replete with ceremonial music and traditional garb. First, the matador (translated: killer) and his assistants – banderilleros – will test the bull’s “athleticism” as he makes several passes at the cape. A mounted picador will then thrust a lance into the bull’s neck; this sheds the first blood, weakening the adversary. The banderilleros will then pierce the bull with barbed sticks to prep him for the final act. At this point, the bleeding bull will have difficulty holding his head aloft; he is hurt, desperate, and confused, which, of course, facilitates the endgame.


The “tercio de muerte” begins with the unaccompanied matador re-emerging, carrying only his red cape and sword. The great toreros, being showmen first, incite several more passes from the wounded bull before proceeding to the crescendo: A sword plunged between the shoulder blades to the heart. Death, hopefully. But, as they are waging battle with a half-ton animal, their aim may be amiss – sometimes a lung is punctured, drowning the bull in his own blood – and the spinal cord must be severed with a knife. The brave and dashing slayer will then absorb the wild applause. A particularly satisfied audience will petition for an ear or two as a reward – done in full view. Pictorial account here.


Michael Kimmelman (“Bullfighting Is Dead! Long Live the Bullfight!”), NY Times art critic – yes, art critic – wrote of a show featuring bullfighting’s greatest artist, the larger-than-life Jose Tomas. On this day, Tomas’ first muse was treated thus: “Tomás finally thrust his sword between the bull’s shoulders, stopping his banderilleros from trying to exhaust the dying animal further. The matador waited, watching, as the bull first kneeled, then, like a demolished building, crumbled. People threw flowers, their seat cushions and stuffed animals while horses dragged the carcass away and Tomás, looking pleased with himself, took a triumphant lap around the ring.”

The sequel, alas, bombed. This bloodied bull became lethargic early. Tomas’ banderilleros tried pulling his tail, but he kept falling. Then, in a ghastly theatrical fashion, and “almost like a hypnotist, Tomás got the crippled, staggering animal to rise to his bait, and matador and bull managed a series of hair-raising, heartbreaking passes.” But: “The kill was appalling. After Tomás got the sword in, having bungled his first try, an assistant stabbed the fallen, struggling animal 11 times in the base of the head with his dagger before finally polishing him off by severing the spinal column. It was sickening. The crowd, displeased, counted each thrust, tauntingly. José Tomás walked off, shamed and distraught.”


On Frogs and Fetal Pigs

“We are on our way to becoming a nation of wimps. It’s just a frog, for crying out loud.” (Virginia State Senator Richard Saslaw, 2004)

It has been said that smell is the sense most correlated with memory. For me, formaldehyde brings me back to Mr. Fiero’s 10th grade biology class. It was there, in his laboratory classroom, that my partner and I dissected a fetal pig. What I remember most from the experience is how much I didn’t want to do it, an option, sadly, not available in 1980.

Mr. Fiero kept a boa constrictor in a glass cage and would occasionally feed him live rodents as part of our education (although he did graciously allow us to look away with impunity). This “lifecycle moment” did not appear to upset too many of my classmates, but when Shadow, the hobbled domestic rabbit, disappeared one weekend as the giant snake’s latest meal (the bulge was immense), a palpable sadness pervaded the classroom. Looking back, this illustrates our uneven morality on animals. The prey mice were entertainment for many of my friends. The pet rabbit, accorded favored status, was mourned upon his untimely demise. As for the dissection, I remember having some nebulous notion of an unfortunate porcine miscarriage; I didn’t consciously associate our subject with a deliberate death.

Dissection has been a part of biology class since the 1920′s, but in 1987, a brave 15-year-old Californian named Jennifer Graham refused to dissect an animal and sued her school district. She argued for a comparable academic option. A year later, California would grant that right to all high school students (nine other states, including NY, have followed). Today, we have sophisticated models and, better yet, computer programs capable of detailed virtual dissections.

Pathologist Dr. Nancy Harrison: “As a doctor who performs autopsies, I can assure students that computer images of well-preserved tissues look more like the “real thing” than the squishy gray organs of a formalin-fixed specimen.”

Biologist Dr. Jonathan Balcombe: “Studies show that nonanimal methods teach concepts in biology and anatomy just as well or better than animal dissection.”


Classroom dissection is big business, and Carolina Biological is the industry leader. Its website, complete with shopping cart, offers a wide variety of products, including skinned cats. To be fair, they also sell virtual kits, but since animals used for dissection must be replaced each term, Carolina much prefers the “flesh” option. The company is also deliberately inexact about its sources: “…some from cultures, some from natural or managed habitats where seasonal collections are made, and many from the food industry [fetal pigs and cow eyes extracted at the slaughterhouse].”

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine writes: “An investigation of Carolina Biological Supply Company (CBSC)…found cats arriving in crowded cages, being poked with metal hooks, and finally being sent into gas chambers (some giving birth or making sounds after the gassing, indicating they were not yet dead). In 1991, the U.S. Department of Agriculture charged the CBSC with 10 violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including one charge of embalming cats who were still alive. When they are 'prepared' for dissection, frogs are usually dropped in a water-and-alcohol solution, which can take up to 20 minutes to cause death.”

In the end, the irony is patent: Some still insist on teaching biology, the study of life, through destruction of life. We are hardly as enlightened as we think.

Fred's Death

On May 3, 2007, 11-year-old Jamison Stone pumped nine bullets into a half ton pig at the Lost Creek Plantation in Alabama, a 150-acre secured hunting ground. Because of the pig’s enormous size and the child-hunter’s skill deficiency, it took three hours (with a .50-caliber handgun) to bring the bloodied animal down. The hunt was arranged by Mike Stone, Jamison’s father, and the two owners of Southeastern Trophy Hunters. Lost Creek’s Eddy Borden had placed ads hyping the massive “wild boar” roaming the wilds of his property and charged Stone $1,500 for the pleasure of hunting it down. But it was all a great big lie.

The pig was actually a fully domesticated animal named Fred. Phil Blissitt, Fred’s owner, had sold him to Borden for $250 just four days prior. Blissitt would subsequently describe Fred as a gentle, trusting creature who enjoyed playing with the grandchildren, spending time with the family chihuahua, and eating canned sweet potatoes. But that trust was unforgivably betrayed and done so without a hint of remorse: The Blissitts, who bought Fred as a six-week-old piglet in ’04, only objected to the purported record size of the “monster pig” and the allegedly doctored photo, not to his final fate.


A grand jury convened to investigate possible animal cruelty charges, but the DA would eventually drop the case. Still, the question remained: With Fred slowly bleeding to death, why didn’t the three experienced hunters shoot and end the misery? Only after facts came to light did Stone say, “I regret that it didn’t die the first shot.” But it was actually a deliberate decision by Stone so that he could market his 11-year-old beast-slayer, website included. So Fred suffered. Pathologist Dr. Melinda Merck said (Rhonda Shearer): “Based on the lack of a conclusive kill shot and the prolonged time to die, the cause of death is most likely shock and exsanguinations primarily from the injuries to the abdominal organs.” And surgeon Dr. Li-Horng Lee said that the wounds “would have caused extreme pain and anxiety for a prolonged period of time.”

In December 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney, proud recipient of five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, led a group of nine wealthy friends to the exclusive Rolling Rock Club in Pennsylvania. They were there to participate in their own timeless story of man vs. nature. Nature, here, was represented by 500 tame, fattened pheasants who were released from nets and subsequently mowed down. Over 400 died, and after lunch, the mallards would get theirs.

With an estimated 1,000 preserves and ranches strewn across the land, canned (or trophy) hunting is big business. These ranches often offer “no kill, no pay” guarantees because, of course, the hopelessly trapped animals will eventually be killed. On the larger ones, guides will drive hunters to feeding areas or bait stations, apparently done to capture the feel of an African safari. Supply is manipulated to meet hunter demand, with targets either intentionally-bred on the ranch or purchased from animal dealers. These animals, being somewhat trusting of humans, make for far easier marks. As the goal is a trophy mount, non-vitals like the head and chest are avoided, resulting in slower, more painful deaths.

There is no federal law or regulatory agency addressing the industry, and restrictions, if any, vary from state-to-state. NY only stipulates that the grounds cover at least 10 acres and generously excludes the use of endangered animals. In the end, though, your most fantastic hunting desires are limited only by disposable income. It is, in fact, hunting for dummies.

Ringling's Smoking Gun

“I stopped telling people what I did for a living. I was ashamed.” (Sammy Haddock, former elephant trainer for Ringling Bros.)

Sammy Haddock worked with circus elephants over a 30-year period, including time at Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation. Fulfilling a promise to his dying wife, a then-retired Haddock approached PETA (an unlikely pairing, for Haddock was a meateater/hunter) about exposing Ringling Bros. cruelty.

In August 2009, Haddock, who would die just a few months later, signed a notarized declaration that included these workplace pictures. Referring to one photo, Haddock said, “The baby elephant is slammed to the ground. See its mouth is wide open? It’s screaming bloody murder. It doesn’t have its mouth open for a carrot.” Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company, did not reject the authenticity of the photos, just the interpretation. Said Gary Jacobson, the Center’s head trainer and Haddock’s former boss, “These are classic pictures of professional elephant-training. …This is the most humane way.”


The worst, for Haddock, was the “gut-wrenching” separation of mother and calf: “When pulling 18-24-month-old babies, the mother is chained against the wall by all four legs. Usually there’s 6 or 7 staff that go in to pull the baby rodeo style. …Some mothers scream more than others while watching their babies being roped. …Once they’re pulled from their mothers, they’ve tasted their last bit of freedom and the relationship with their mother ends.”

Before graduating from rope restraint, the calves must develop learned helplessness, a process that can take up to six months. They will spend 23 hours of their day restrained. Once inside the training tent, loud music is played to “drown out the baby’s screaming” and to ready them for the circus of the circus. According to Haddock, Ringling elephant training requires “brute force, electricity, and a savage disposition.” He added, “Raising a baby elephant at Ringling is like raising a kid in jail.”

As for the bullhook, which Ringling calls a “guide,” Haddock said, “[The bullhook] is designed for one purpose, and one purpose only, to inflict pain and punishment. I should know, I used to make them.” Hook and burn (from the occasional electric “hot shot”) marks, according to Haddock, were covered with mud for USDA inspections.


Haddock also confessed to his own cruelty. To retaliate for “Vance” knocking him unconscious: “I burned out two hot shots and fried him for about ten minutes. He was screaming and regurgitating water.” And to teach “Major” a 15-minute lesson in obedience: “I laid him down and hooked him repeatedly in his ear canal. …Major was screaming bloody murder.”

Finally, “During the course of my career, I’ve seen elephants being beaten who have no idea why they are being beaten or what is expected of them. They will start randomly lifting one leg, then another and another, lifting their trunk, hoping some trick will satisfy the trainer and make the beating stop.” All done to one of the most intelligent species on the planet. How profoundly sad.

Animals Feel Pain

“I personally can see no reason for conceding mind to my fellow men and denying it to animals. I at least cannot doubt that the interests and activities of animals are correlated with awareness and feeling in the same way as my own, and which may be, for aught I know, just as vivid.” (neurologist Russell Brain)

The International Association for the Study of Pain, an organization of professionals from various disciplines, defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. Note: The inability to communicate verbally does not negate the possibility that an individual is experiencing pain and is in need of appropriate pain-relieving treatment. Pain is always subjective….”

Although this may seem a pointless exercise, there are still those who do not accept the concept of animal pain, or at least do not view it as being comparable to our own. But the mechanisms by which we experience pain – nociceptors, spinal cord, brain – are also present in many nonhuman species, certainly the ones we routinely test on. And they, rather uncomfortably for us, react to pain in the same ways – writhing, contorting, moaning, vocalizing, and avoiding. And as with us, their vital signs change with distress. Indeed, this likeness is why we experiment on them in the first place. But beyond pain-causing tissue damage, animals too suffer emotional pain. Dr. Lynne Sneddon, Liverpool University:

“Are animals capable of feeling emotional pain? Humans can certainly feel pain without physical damage – after the loss of a loved one, or the break-up of a relationship, for example. Some scientists suggest that only primates and humans can feel emotional pain, as they are the only animals that have a neocortex – the ‘thinking area’ of the cortex found only in mammals.

However, research has provided evidence that monkeys, dogs, cats and birds can show signs of emotional pain and display behaviours associated with depression during painful experience, i.e. lack of motivation, lethargy, anorexia, unresponsiveness to other animals. Nevertheless, even if animal pain may be distinct from human pain, is that a reason to consider it less important either biologically or ethically?”


The American Veterinary Medical Association says “that animal pain and suffering are clinically important conditions that adversely affect an animal’s quality of life.” The USDA requires annual reports on how many animals were used in pain-causing experiments and whether anesthetics and analgesics were administered. And contemporary science stresses “reduction, refinement, replacement” to its researchers. Why have laws – Humane Slaughter, Animal Welfare, anti-cruelty statutes – if animal pain doesn’t exist or matter?

The eminent psychologist Richard Ryder writes, “Pain is pain regardless as to who or what suffers it. X amount of pain in a dog or a cat matters just as much as X amount of pain in a human being. It is the pain that matters, not the species.” Furthermore, Dr. Ryder argues, pain “is the great evil, and inflicting pain upon others is the only wrong.” If Dr. Ryder is right, and I believe he is, then don’t we have a moral obligation to stop intentionally causing pain to other sentient beings, even if so doing slows supposed medical progress? Having suffered untold horrors through the centuries, has not the time at long last arrived for the laboratory animal’s liberation (extinction)?

Herbivorous Man

“It is only by softening and disguising dead flesh by culinary preparation that it is rendered susceptible of mastication or digestion; and that the sight of its bloody juices and raw horror, does not excite intolerable loathing and disgust. Let the advocate of animal food, force himself to a decisive experiment on its fitness, and as Plutarch recommends, tear a living lamb with his teeth, and plunging his head into its vitals, slake his thirst with the steaming blood.” (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

“Although most of us conduct our lives as omnivores, in that we eat flesh as well as vegetables and fruits, human beings have characteristics of herbivores, not carnivores.” (Dr. William C. Roberts, editor-in-chief, American Journal of Cardiology)

Dr. Milton Mills makes the following case for human beings as natural herbivores:

Carnivores

Nails are represented by sharp claws, serving an obvious purpose.

Mouth opening is large relative to head size, with reduced facial musculature to facilitate the seizing, killing, and dismembering of prey.

Jaw joint is a simple hinge. Lower jaw cannot move forward and has very limited side-to-side motion.

Teeth are spaced so stringy debris is not caught. Incisors are short and pointed for grasping and shredding. Canines are long and dagger-like for stabbing, tearing, and killing. Molars are triangular with jagged edges, like serrated blades.

Saliva does not contain digestive enzymes. Carnivores gorge rapidly and without chewing.

Stomach is very large relative to the rest of the digestive system (60-70% of GI tract) and has a high level of hydrochloric acid to facilitate protein breakdown and kill dangerous bacteria. Small intestine is short (3-5x body length). Colon: simple, short, and smooth (like a pipe, quick in-and-out); about the same diameter as small intestine; functions only to absorb salt and water.

Liver can detoxify vitamin A.

Kidneys have extremely concentrated urine.

Note: A true omnivore, such as a bear, exhibits the anatomy of a carnivore save for the squared molars used for crushing and grinding plant food.

Human Beings

Our hands, fingers, and flattened nails are ideally suited for picking fruits and vegetables, not ripping into a tough hide.

Mouth opening is relatively small, with the “muscles of expression” aiding the chewing process.

Jaw can move side-to-side for crushing and grinding and is easily dislocated, which would be a survival hindrance for carnivores.

Teeth are usually close together. Incisors are flat and spade-like for peeling and biting soft substances. Canines are flattened, blunt, and small. Premolars and molars are flattened and nodular for crushing, grinding, and pulping.

Saliva contains amylase to break down carbohydrates and digest starches. Esophagus is narrow and designed for small, thoroughly chewed bits of food.

Stomach is 21-27% of GI tract and is only moderately acidic. While true that we do not have the multi-chambered stomachs of ruminant herbivores, our larger intestines ferment the soft plant vegetation (ruminants typically eat tougher plants) in our diet, making the multiple chambers unnecessary. Small intestine is long (10-11x body length). Colon: long, pouched, and winds in three directions; has a greater diameter than small intestine; responsible for vitamin production and absorption.

Liver cannot detoxify vitamin A.

Kidneys have only moderately concentrated urine.



In short, our bodies do not allow for natural carnivorous feeding. We must cook our meat – not to mention doctor it in myriad ways – because to not would make us vulnerable to the life-threatening bacteria – Salmonella, E. coli, Trichinosis, Listeria – that true carnivores need not worry about. Author John Robbins: “If you were to swallow a capsule containing the digestive secretions of a cat, the contents of that capsule would be so acidic that they would almost instantly ulcerate the lining of your stomach.”

While true that our ancestors hunted and consumed animals, they did so out of necessity, a survival-mechanism borne of climate. But today, being an omnivore is a choice. Writer Harvey Diamond famously remarked, “You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If he eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car.” It really is that simple.

Stealing Their Organs

“We have to be frank about this: We are exploiting these pigs.” (Dr. David White, former director of research at Imutran in England)

“Generally speaking, our society and our government is at least giving the impression that it’s becoming more sensitive to the welfare needs of animals and we all hope that sensitivity and compassion will develop. But with xenotransplantation, it’s a sort of massive blow to that sense of progression. It’s a step into the Dark Ages. It may look really nice and scientific and clean, but in terms of what we’re actually doing to animals, it’s barbaric.” (Dr. Dan Lyons, expert on British animal-research policy)

In the late 1990s, Imutran – a subsidiary of Novartis, the pharmaceutical giant – conducted xenotransplantation experiments at the Huntingdon Life Sciences laboratories in England. They were attempting to produce marketable xenografts – hearts and kidneys in this case – for human use. In one set of experiments, genetically-modified (made more humanlike) pig hearts were grafted into the necks and abdomens of baboons. Necks and abdomens. In another, monkeys had their own kidneys removed and replaced with a lone pig kidney. In all, 49 baboons, 424 monkeys, and some 10,000 pigs were used.


In early 2000, the animal rights group Uncaged Campaigns received copies of the researchers’ logs. What follows are descriptions of the primates after surgery:

quiet and huddled…body and head tremors…large vomit in cage…exhibits discomfort when moving…no use of right arm…right arm badly swollen and bruised…skin broken and oozing blood…collapsed on cage floor…very laboured breathing…extreme difficulty trying to walk…holding neck…animal picking at transplant site

keeps holding area where transplanted heart is…yellow fluid seeping from site…animal showing obvious discomfort…uncoordinated limb spasms…retching and salivating…bloody discharge from penis…observed shivering…periodic severe tremors…extreme difficulty breathing, vocalising…died prior to sacrifice…sacrificed for humane reasons



While some died from technical failures within 24 hours, most lingered for up to three months before succumbing to infection, rejection, or toxicity. Not one survived. After the disclosure, Imutran’s research was discontinued and moved to the U.S. In an interview with Frontline, Dr. Lyons recalls one of the subjects:

“One of the most unfortunate animals had a piglet heart transplanted into his neck. …for several days he was holding the heart. It was swollen. It was seeping blood, it was seeping pus… He suffered from body tremors, vomiting, diarrhea. And the animal just sat there. I think living hell is really the only sort of real way you can get close to describing what it must be like to have been that animal in that situation.”


Science, irrepressible science, will (if allowed) eventually work out the bugs, bringing these Frankensteinian parts to market. But to get there, Imutran-like experiments – both what they did and whom they did it to – are required. (Uncomfortably, the “whom” are animals at least as intelligent as our pet dogs, not to mention some of us.) What’s left, then, are the ethical questions, questions that cannot simply be deferred to the PhDs and politicians. Since they carve and cripple in our collective interest, each of us is accountable. So, how do we justify what happened to those pigs and primates? What and how many animals are to be sacrificed? How much suffering will we allow?

Fortunately, there is a way to render this particular technology obsolete before its time: Currently, the number of transplant candidates far exceeds the number of available organs. But if more of us would become organ donors – and, while we’re at it, bequeath our bodies to research – harvesting in animal bodies would be unnecessary. Doing the right thing, for both us and them, is as easy as checking a box on our licenses. Weighed against implanting a pig heart into the neck of a baboon, isn’t this the least we can do?

End Animal Property

We cannot protect dogs from being tortured to death when anyone can acquire dogs, and when there exists no serious deterrent to torturing them. Anyone can acquire dogs because dogs are things to acquire, and there is no serious deterrent because serious deterrents are reserved for violations of others' rights. Dogs are not "others"; they have no rights. Vicious circle defined.

Worse, dogs are chattel of the lowest order, manufactured, traded, used, and trashed purely on a human's whim. Like any garden-variety Amazon product. There are no agencies regulating their titles and no safety nets monitoring their care. And if found abused, the victims of cruelty as defined by the law, there are no prosecutorial crusades initiated on their behalf and no sentencing messages from the bench. There is no justice, not even a pretense to justice, because there is no will within society – not at the legislative level, not at the enforcement level, not at the judicial level, and most importantly, not at the people level – to (seriously) punish property owners for committing wrongs against their property.

The animal cruelty reported daily, however, tells but a part of the story. As you read, millions of dogs and cats await death in shelters across America, many, erstwhile "family members" dumped - quite legally - for becoming inconvenient. But equally pernicious is the suffering endured by millions more in homes where the new-pet excitement has long since vanished. There, animals - roughly the intellectual equals of our small children - merely exist, afforded the bare necessities, but denied enrichment, stimulation, love, and affection. Just languishing, for periods measured in years.

Reform - tougher laws, better enforcement - is an untenable position. If I own you, you essentially have no protections. Besides, a closer scrutiny of supposed progress, like "Buster's Law," reveals language extremely difficult to apply: felony "aggravated cruelty" is conduct "intended to cause extreme physical pain or done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner." "Especially depraved" and "sadistic" are intentionally elusive bars; intentionally, because again, despite what we say, we are not inclined to impose hard time for crimes against chattel. Hence, "Buster's Law" is not much more than window dressing: charges are rare, convictions rarer, maximum jail time all but unheard of.

As long as we own them, there is nothing we can do to stop the cruelty. Nothing. And so the question becomes, what price having pets? Are the above and the others we may never know about - dogs who at this very moment are being starved or beaten - to be regarded as collateral damage? In our zeal to preserve a relatively frivolous thing, how many animals are we willing to sacrifice? In the end, it really doesn't matter how many homes are abusive, just that some are; those pets who are loved - whether it's some, many, or most - can't begin to make up for those who are not. With casualties inescapable, how can this decidedly unnecessary "relationship" be justified?

End animal property: Shut the breeders down by refusing to pay for their product, adopt the ones already here, and sterilize - all of them. Imagine a world where sentient beings are no longer bought, sold, dumped, ignored, neglected, abused, assaulted, tortured, and killed. Imagine, progress.