Defining Unnecessary Suffering

Yesterday there was a story in the Toronto Star about a woman named Diane Way who appeared in court to face charges of animal cruelty and causing unnecessary suffering to animals.

Diane Way’s neighbours had complained for two years about the smell of “old urine” coming from her two-storey detached home.  When Constable Chiasson knocked on the door of the house the day Diane Way was arrested, “her eyes burned from the stink.” Firefighters arrived on the scene to search the house and wore protective suits, tested the air quality and half-expected to find a dead (human) body.

This all happened on April 24, 2011 when an Ottawa lawyer who was canvassing the area called Toronto Police after approaching the home and thinking “maybe someone had died inside.” This same lawyer also testified that when she approached the home, “My mouth started foaming. I didn’t vomit but I felt ill.”

When police and firefighters entered Diane Way’s house, they found “about 107” cats living in squalid conditions.  Most were malnourished, had oozing sores on their bodies and the floors and walls were saturated with urine and feces.

Way’s next-door neighbour testified at the trial today that her front yard became “more and more unsightly” and despite seeing cats in the window from time to time, the odour was the “greater concern.”

Cows, pigs, chickens and other farmed animals live and die in these conditions every day. They are forced together in cramped “unsightly” spaces, living in their own urine, feces and vomit, often having to step over a dead or dying fellow creature just to reach food.  The workers and animals must endure overpowering odours of ammonia and toxic waste 24-hours a day. Yet when animal activists call the police for these crimes, the activists are arrested, not the owners.  That’s because in our world, the slaughter of cows, pigs and chickens for “food” is considered acceptable. Same conditions, different animals.  What makes the charge of “unnecessary suffering” unnecessary then?  The conditions or the animal?

The trial continues today.

vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca

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