Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A heart-tugging story from China about a dog which bit off its tongue and died after a thrashing by its owner goes to show that animals do have emotions and are capable of expressing their feelings just like you and me.

Apparently, the Tibetan mastiff had been in a dogfight and to teach him a lesson, its owner beat it in front of the other dog and it must have felt ashamed and so killed itself to keep its dignity.

This story brought back to mind an incident which I personally witnessed which proved the fact that animals do feel pain, fear, joy and all the emotions that we humans also possess.

My family lived near an abattoir and we were not allowed to trespass into its vicinity. But like all naughty and curious kids then, my siblings and a few friends threw caution to the wind after having seen lorry loads of pigs, goats and cows being sent there for slaughter. One fine day, curiosity and the adventurous spirit took over and we dared venture into forbidden ground! What I saw and heard was not pretty and had remained in my subconscious mind till today.

The terrified squealing of the pigs being prodded with sharp metal rods to get them out of their holding pens were ear-splitting. Electrical probes were applied to their foreheads to stun them before the butchers plunge a long sharp knife into their throats. And I don't have to tell you what it was like when the blood gushed out and the poor animal gave its last squeal of help before it was roughly cast aside to thrash out its last moments of life. The scene repeated itself and we kids literally were rooted to the ground and shivering with fright at what we had seen. We couldn't run fast enough to get out of the place!

If that was not enough to make us all go home and have nightmares for many nights to come... a small lorry with a cow on it stopped right in front of our tracks. The driver tried to get it to come down from the lorry but it refused to do so. What was so amazing then in my child's mind was, the cow actually knelt down and tears were running down its eyes! Oh no, it knew that it was going to be killed and it must have felt fearful of what was ahead. Otherwise, how do you explain the tears and the sad mooing? It was really a disturbing and revolting experience for us all.

Ever since then, I vowed never to go near an abattoir... I don't want to subject myself to such sights ever again. I cannot imagine how the animals must have felt when they sensed that their time was up and to be killed so inhumanely so that we will have meat on our dining tables!

Just a few days ago, I read a short response in The STAR by Professor Dr Zulkifli Idrus who is the Director of the Research Management Centre at Universiti Putra Malaysia. He was referring to an earlier article on the feeding of zoo animals
(STAR TWO dated 1st Sept, 2008). The good professor expressed his concern over the report that live chickens were being fed to the pythons at the Sunway Wildlife Interactive Zoo in Kuala Lumpur.

This is exactly what he had to say and I quote :
" Studies have shown that exposing animals to a potential predator can evoke both STRESS and FEAR REACTIONS. Even the smell and sound (in the absence of visual contact) of the predator is enough to cause physological changes in the animal. Thus, it is an inhumane act and should not be condoned. It must be stopped immediately. Such practice would send a wrong message to the general public, particularly children, on the proper treatment of animals."

Thank you Professor Dr Zulkifli for pointing this out. Hopefully, many people will be awaken to the fact that killing an animal or causing it to be killed is the worst act that a rational human being can do to another being that also has the right to live its life here on earth.

We don't need to satisfy our appetite at the expense of another life. Adopting a kinder, ethical and eco-friendlier diet will be the first step to take if we can come to terms with our perception of how a truly moral person should conduct his life with regard to our animal co-inhabitants. Saving our poor animals from being abused and ill-treated will ultimately mean that we are saving ourselves at the end of the day.


For further reference on Professor Dr Zulkifli Idrus' statement:

To read about the dog that took its own life:

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