Several days ago, I dreamed that I was in a hotel basement to see how they process lobsters. In the background were workers who worked on the dead lobsters, while in the foreground was a man who took live lobsters, two at a time from some kind of container, and threw them into a large vat of boiling water. When I realized what was happening, I was revolted to such an extent that it led me to sobbing.

When I awoke from this nightmare, I reflected on other human activities that are cruel to the creatures with whom we share our living space. There were very many.

The first I thought of was calves, which are removed from their mothers within two days of birth. Males are either destined to be made into veal, raised to be beef or killed within days. Females are also raised under deprived conditions to become veal or raised to be milk producers like their mothers.

Sharks are hooked and their fins removed to be made into shark-fin soup, then thrown overboard without fins to sink to the bottom, unable to swim. Oceanic fish are commonly trawled, die by asphyxiation in air, then eaten.

Parrots, macaws and other brightly colored birds who are social birds are trapped and destined to be kept in solitary confinement in cages in our homes.

In the Arctic regions, baby seals are clubbed to death, their fur intended for the clothing industry, their skinless bodies for dog food.


Rattlesnakes are rounded up, thrown into a pit, admired, then killed, skinned, cooked and eaten. This is known as fun.

I have seen videos taken in slaughterhouses of workers kicking, beating, poking and gouging the eyes of pigs, cows and chickens. Then the animals went to slaughter.

Crabs, mussels and clams are usually slaughtered by being dropped into boiling water, as is done with lobsters. Their pain is short-lived before they die unless the water is moderately hot. Then their suffering might go on for longer.

I have seen videos of young elephants being “broken” of their innate traits by having each leg roped to a stake. So they can be used as workers on plantations, they are unable to move or be with others of their kind.

Bulls are teased in an arena by a man carrying a cape, when at some point he begins to spear the bull multiple times until the bull bleeds to death. This is sport and fun for some.

Horses and greyhounds are raised to run for speed. When they can no longer maintain their competitiveness, they are no longer of any use to the owner. You can imagine what happens to them.

None of these practices is necessary for human well-being. Every one of us participates to some extent in at least one of these horrors, some of us more, some of us less. Barbarism and cruelty toward animals is a worldwide problem, not likely to end any time soon. But we must make a start, one person at a time, until this nasty side of human nature is ended.

Len Frenkel

South Portland

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