[Irish Independent - opinion]
From hunting to battery farming, it is in all our hands to end the torture of defenceless animals, writes Andrea Smith
'We're so deflated about the whole thing," bleated millionaire property developer and master of the Ward Union Hunt, Michael Bailey, following the delightful fiasco that unfolded on St Stephen's Day as the hunt adhered to new restrictions to its licence. "It's all about the thrill of the chase and that was lost here today."
The grinch who stole Christmas for the hunters is Environment Minister John Gormley, my new hero, who took a step in the right direction in relation to this heinous "sport" by issuing the hunt with a restricted licence. This meant that instead of pursuing a live animal, the hunt had to follow the scent of a deer, who was to be recaptured alive before the hounds were released.
The other disgraceful practice of animal cruelty in Ireland is the reprehensible fur-farms, which exist to give spoilt Irish women the opportunity to wear real fur. According to National Animal Rights Association, there are six mink farms and at least one fox farm in this country, where a total of 150,000 animals are trapped and killed annually. Wild animals are captured by leg-hold traps, which painfully bite into the animals' legs, until the trapper eventually returns to kill them by clubbing or suffocation.
For the animals bred in captivity, their fate is no better, as they are imprisoned in tiny cages with no freedom to carry out their natural behaviour. NARA claims that 40 mink at a time are put into the killing box to be gassed, which often doesn't work, so many are skinned alive. Foxes are killed by electrocution, electrodes are clamped to their mouth and rods inserted into their rectum. An extremely painful death ensues, all so that the greed of thoughtless Irish women, who won't wear fake fur, is satiated. The cruelty won't stop until demand ceases, and to create awareness, NARA campaigned last week outside stores that sell real fur, including Sydney Vard, Pamela Scott, Richard Alan and Rohu Furs.
As we are the ones who hold the ultimate power, the only way any of these appalling situations will change is if we stop ignoring what happens to animals in our names. Buying free-range and organic meat, wearing fake fur, finding cruelty-free hobbies and just thinking about the consequences of our actions would go a long way towards improving the lot of the beautiful creatures that are, sadly, completely at our mercy.