iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Kathy Freston

GET UPDATES FROM Kathy Freston

Animal Cruelty: Taking a Stand Is Easier Than We Think

Posted: 10/14/11 09:38 AM ET

We are a nation of animal lovers: Fully 97 percent of us tell pollsters that we believe animals should be protected from abuse. But, are we willing to do anything about it?

Not if our diets are any indication. Most Americans continue to chomp down on chicken nuggets, ribs and burgers -- inadvertently supporting abuse that they believe they oppose. It's a sad fact that farm animals are exempted from the Animal Welfare Act, and are exploited in myriad ways that would warrant criminal charges if they had the same protections as dogs and cats. This has real implications for the daily welfare of farm animals, as well as for our diets and our health.

Allow me to present two particularly harmful examples: First, billions of farm animals are routinely drugged with antibiotics to make them grow faster, and to keep them alive in deplorable conditions that would otherwise kill many of them. Second, hundreds of millions are confined to cages or stalls so small they cannot even turn around. If this happened to dogs or cats, instead of chickens and pigs, we would all be outraged. And, these intense confinement conditions directly contribute to animal illnesses and environmental pollution that negatively affect all of us.

If you care about cruelty to animals, and the problems associated with factory farming, you should know more about Farm Sanctuary, an organization that runs two sanctuaries for abused farm animals; it works on legislation, litigation and education to help all farm animals.

Take the case of Riley: This tiny seven-pound piglet was up for auction at a New York stockyard, meaning he was on his way to the average American dinner plate. He was so sick he couldn't stand. Incapacitated animals like Riley are called "downers," and they are frequent sights at auctions. Farm Sanctuary's Emergency Rescue Team stepped in, rushing him to a veterinary hospital. The stockyard's severe neglect left Riley blind in one eye, and with his head permanently tilted.

Riley was fortunate to be saved by Farm Sanctuary, and he will never know cruelty or endure neglect again. But billions of farm animals are suffering everyday. That's why I'm supporting Farm Sanctuary's Walk for Farm Animals. The Walks raise vital funds for Farm Sanctuary's life-saving work; they bring together thousands of people to promote kindness toward animals and help ensure farm animals, like Riley, have a chance at a better life.

If you are interested, please take a stand against animal abuse by joining a Walk for Farm Animals near you. With your help, we will stop the systematic abuse of farm animals that causes unacknowledged suffering. Register today at walkforfarmanimals.org.