When I was in college, I remember attending a Veg Fair and coming across a PETA card for a free Vegetarian Starter Kit. Now, I had already been a vegetarian for many years, but I thought, “Hey, there’s probably some delicious recipes included, so I’ll check it out.” I was totally excited when the kit came in the mail a few weeks later, and I sat down to read through it right away. In the kit, I read a story that opened my eyes and changed my life forever, and I wanted to share it with all of you.
Downed Cow: The True Story of One Anonymous Animal Born Into the Meat Industry
The truck carrying this cow was unloaded at Walton Stockyards in Kentucky one September morning. After the other animals were removed from the truck, she was left behind, unable to move. The stockyard workers used their customary electric prods in her ear to try to get her out of the truck, then beat and kicked her in the face, ribs, and back, but still she didn’t move. They tied a rope around her neck, tied the other end to a post in the ground, and drove the truck away. The cow was dragged along the floor of the truck and fell to the ground, landing with both hind legs and her pelvis broken. She remained like that until 7:30 that evening.
For the first three hours, she lay in the hot sun crying out. Periodically, when she urinated or defecated, she used her front legs to drag herself along the gravel roadway to a clean spot. She also tried to crawl to a shaded area but couldn’t move far enough. Altogether, she managed to crawl a painful 13 to 14 yards. The stockyard employees wouldn’t allow her any drinking water; the only water she received was given to her by Jessie Pierce, a local animal rights activist, who had been contacted by a woman who witnessed the incident. Jessie arrived at noon. After receiving no cooperation from stockyard workers, she called the Kenton County Police. A police officer arrived but was instructed by his superiors to do nothing; he left at 1 p.m.
© Jessie Pierce
The stockyard operator informed Jessie that he had permission from the insurance company to kill the cow but wouldn’t do it until Jessie left. Although doubtful that he would keep his word, Jessie left at 3 p.m. She returned at 4:30 p.m. and found the stockyard deserted. Three dogs were attacking the cow, who was still alive. She had suffered a number of bite wounds, and her drinking water had been removed. Jessie contacted the state police. Four officers arrived at 5:30 p.m. State trooper Jan Wuchner wanted to shoot the cow but was told that a veterinarian should kill her. The two veterinarians at the facility would not euthanize her, claiming that in order to preserve the value of the meat, she could not be destroyed. The butcher eventually arrived at 7:30 p.m. and shot the cow. Her body was purchased for $307.50.
When the stockyard operator was questioned by a reporter from The Kentucky Post, he stated, “We didn’t do a damned thing to it,” and referred to the attention given to the cow by humane workers and police as “bullcrap.” He laughed throughout the interview, saying that he found nothing wrong with the way that the cow was treated.
This is not an isolated case. It is so common that animals in this condition are known in the meat industry as “downers.” After PETA brought much-needed attention to this issue, the Kenton County Police Department adopted a policy requiring that all downed animals be immediately euthanized, whether they are on the farm, in transit, or at the slaughterhouse. Sadly, other law enforcement agencies don’t have such policies, and downed animals continue to suffer everywhere. It is up to the public to demand change, and it is up to consumers to refuse to purchase the products of this miserable industry.
I went vegan because of this cow. Though I was vegetarian for a long time, I had no idea that animals in the food industry were treated so horribly. She changed my life forever. Is there a particular animal’s story that changed your life? Let me know about it by commenting below.