End Animal Slaughter’s Sandra Kyle has been doing weekly or twice-weekly slaughterhouse vigils for the international Save Movement for around four years, much of that time standing on her own.   Here is her account of her latest vigil.    

As you wander up and down supermarket aisles, stopping at the freezer to select a pristine packet of meat, do you ever take the time to think about the animals who died for your dinner?

I heard the voice of one of them today when I pulled up outside Land Meats. Above the relentless hum of industrial slaughter, the clanging of metal doors, the ‘Hup Hup’ of the worker with the stick beating animals to enter the kill chute; above the din and roar of passing cars and trucks; one solitary animal was raising his voice and mooing loudly, desperate for somebody to help him. The animal’s instincts of self-preservation told him he was in grave danger, and he was crying out in fear.

You may not know that this cow, and all the cows I saw today, cherished their lives every bit as much as we do ours, but while ignorance may be bliss for you, it is not for the animals who had their lives mercilessly stolen this afternoon.

The pitiful dirge of that cow cut me up inside, and my will to act faltered. I stayed put for some time, trying to muster the strength to get out of the car and take some photos. I knew I didn’t have the heart to stick around long, so today I decided I would just get my photos and go.

There is a big difference at the slaughterhouse between a Sunday, when there is no killing, and a weekday when killing is happening all day long. You can literally ‘smell death’ in the air. The smell of blood and organs spewed out of air ducts around the building. This is the normal environment for the slaughterhouse workers and those in surrounding buildings during the working week.

There was only one cow protesting, but every one of the Angus, Hereford, Holstei-Freisian and Jersey I saw today would have been in pain and distress. Any vet can tell you that animals do not show pain the way we do. To show any kind of weakness, including emotional weakness, is signalling to a predator that they are not fit for survival. Cattle and many other animals are tremendously stoic, and hold it all inside, so you see many slaughterhouse animals standing very still, their heads down. For a cow, comfort is the herd, and their suffering would have been intensified as they saw friends and family leave one by one, every few moments, and not return.

It breaks my heart to think of the way that we humans treat animals. You don’t have to eat meat in this day and age. You CHOOSE to do it. Why? Why? Because of your taste preferences?

I wish you would come with me to the slaughterhouse and lock eyes with your victims, knowing that their lives will be stolen in the most barbaric way because you are addicted to their flesh and secretions. Seriously, I wish you would come with me! If more people experienced the reality of slaughterhouses they would stop consuming animals, I’m convinced of that.

There were too many workers around for me to take photos at the fence, so I crossed the street and stood on the stairs of the MARS petfood factory. Standing on a small stool I could make out the cows in the pen. I saw the cattle enter to go to the stunning gate, and watched a worker prodding the terrified animals to keep moving to their gruesome, nightmarish end.

All the gentle, helpless, sentient beings I saw today are dead now, it’s been five hours. The vocal cords of the cow that was mooing so loudly are now probably lying in a bin, awaiting disposal. What’s more when dawn reclaims the night, more cattle will start arriving at Land Meats and the monumental crime will start all over again. And so it will be, until you, if you eat meat and dairy, decide once and for all that you don’t want to be a part of this sick insanity any longer.

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