Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Excerpt from The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights
by Norm Phelps, long-time student of Buddhism (May 16, 1939 - December 31, 2014)
...we seek happiness by killing living beings. Our food, our clothing and our entertainment all come at the price of billions of deaths. Every year in the United States alone:
ten billion cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and turkeys are killed for food and fabric. Of those, nine billion are chickens. Worldwide, 48 billion land animals are killed for food and fabric, of whom 46 billion are chickens, ducks turkeys and geese. The number of aquatic animals-primarily fish, lobsters, shrimp, crabs, oysters and clams-killed for food is not known because production estimates are made in metric tons rather than number of animals. In 2001 world fisheries production, both aquaculture and capture, was estimated at just over 130 million metric tons, live weight. A metric ton is 2,205 pounds. If we estimate the weight of the average fish, mollusk and crustacean at 20 pounds, which is probably high, this would yield a worldwide total of 14 billion aquatic animals slaughtered every year. The number of silkworms boiled alive every year in the production of silk is not known.
One hundred and fifteen million animals who live in the wild are killed for pleasure. To most Americans, who live in cities and suburbs, sport hunting is all but invisible. They are barely aware that it goes on. And yet, it is the second leading form of animal killing in America.
More than 20 million animals are killed in biomedical research and product testing laboratories. Ninety percent of these are rats and mice, but cats, dogs, rabbits and primates are also popular research victims. The creation of genetically modified ("transgenic") mice for use in laboratories is now a booming industry. These unfortunate beings are created with a genetic predisposition to contract a specific disease. They are deliberately designed by human beings in order that they may suffer and die from a human-inflicted illness. The recent discovery that the DNA of dogs replicates human DNA more closely than does the DNA of mice will soon lead to the creation of transgenic dogs and a catastrophic increase in the number of dogs who suffer and die in laboratories.
So far, I have counted only the animals whose death is the purpose of their use. But there are millions more who die every year because they are surplus to the need, or they have outlived their usefulness and become an economic liability. We kill them to save the cost of their upkeep. Every year in the United States:
six to eight million dogs and cats go into institutions that we euphemistically call "shelters", either because their guardians gave them up or they were found homeless on the street. Most are normal, healthy animals who would love to have a home; and yet more than half of them are killed simply because the number of animals who need homes is so much greater than the number of people who go to shelters to adopt a companion.
An estimated 20,000 racing greyhounds and 40,000 horses, most of whom are "retired" racehorses, are killed because they are too slow or too old to be profitable. This does not include 30,000 horses who are shipped to Canada every year for slaughter and an unknown number who are shipped to Mexico. Horse racing fans may delude themselves that when the animals are no longer able to compete, they are retired to a life of ease on a picturesque farm in blue grass country. But this is true only for the lucky few who can be profitably bred. The vast majority of "retired" American racehorses are sent to slaughter for pet food or for human consumption in Europe.
Unknown numbers of exotic animals from circuses and zoos are "euthanized", sent to slaughter, or sold to canned hunts because there is no room for them or they are no longer paying their way as public attractions.
Even now, we have not counted the billions of animals who are killed accidentally every year. Their individual deaths may not be intentional, but we do little or nothing to reduce the number of victims. We would rather kill them than bear the minimal inconvenience and cost of saving their lives. Every year in the United States:
Three hundred million animals are killed by cars and trucks on our roads and streets. This includes 5.4 million cats and 1.2 million dogs. Many of these animals are not killed immediately, but drag themselves away to die slowly in unseen agony. Simple measures, such as widening the shoulders of roads, installing roadside reflector systems and equipping new cars with wide-beam headlights-coupled with programs of public education and enforcement similar to promoting seat belt use and attacking drunk driving-could reduce these deaths dramatically.
Unknown millions of birds and small animals fall victim to high-tech agriculture as they are run over or ground to pieces by massive farm equipment operated by workers perched high atop tractors the size of an army tank.
Millions more birds and small animals, including chipmunks, rabbits, raccoons. opossums, skunks, and moles are killed directly or indirectly by chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers that are needed to sustain industrial monocrop agriculture, rapidly proliferating golf courses, and endless suburbs with lawns suitable for Better Homes and Gardens.
Everywhere we turn, we encounter the killing of the harmless and the helpless. Our society is soaked through with the killing like a piece of cloth drenched in blood. Our minds have become so permeated by killing that we do not recognize that it is wrong, even while we are sitting on our cushions generating compassion toward all living beings... we have been persuaded that our happiness is dependent upon killing. And so with every slice of bacon and every scrambled egg that we eat, with every glass of milk we drink, every pair of leather shoes we wear, every silk shirt we put on, every race horse race or circus we attend, we string another finger bone on our rosary of death.
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