California Activists Torch Cattle Trucks


“Containers of accelerant were placed beneath a row of 14 trucks with four digital timers used to light four of the containers and kerosene soaked rope carrying the fire to the other 10,” the e-mail said.

“We were extremely pleased to see all 14 trucks ‘were a total loss,’ ” the message said.

“We’re not delusional enough to believe that this action will shut down the Harris feeding company, let alone have any effect on factory farming as a whole,” the e-mail said. “But we maintain that this type of action still has worth, if not solely for the participant’s peace of mind, then to show that despite guards, a constant worker presence and razor wire fence, the enemy is still vulnerable.

The e-mail ended with, “Until next time.” –Excerpt San Francisco Chronicle

Yesterday afternoon, my Facebook feed filled up with this story shared by several friends. My first reaction – disgust. It’s yet another example of radical behavior from people who do not know the true story of American livestock and food production. They drive down the roads and see the MFA videos and take those as truth. What. A. Shame.

A group of California activists are laying claim to the destruction of 14 cattle haulers at the Harris Ranch property in the California San Joaquin Valley. The Harris Ranch is a family owned, gate to plate company, that prides itself with more than 40 years in food production. Be sure to take this virtual tour from Harris Ranch to learn more about where their cattle come from and how their family operation brings beef to your table.

Now, I was not familiar with Harris Ranch before this story broke, but after a brief google search I found the company’s website, and loads of information about their diversified operations; natural beef production, cattle feeding, hospitality, and horse division. Plus, after asking a few friends from that area in California, I hear they are even open to tours of their place. Isn’t this what consumers are asking for? A family company, transparency about food production, fewer hands between pasture and plate, and willingness to open a dialogue? And for the critics of their size, that’s a free-market for ya. Supply and Demand.

Now I know the actions from these truck-torching activists are on the extreme side (they even call themselves the 1%), but they’re not alone. The North American Animal Liberation Press Office shares stories from these “underground activists” all the time.

If you’re like me, I first asked “What is Animal Liberation?” Here’s how NAALPO describes it:

The Animal Liberation movement is a loosely-associated collection of cells of people who intentionally violate the law in order to free animals from captivity and the horrors of exploitation. As activists in one cell do not know activists in another cell, their non-hierarchical structure and anonymity prevents legal authorities from breaking up the organization. Animal Liberation activists break into any building or compound – be it a fur farm or university laboratory – in order to release and/or rescue animals. They also destroy property in order to prevent further harm done to animals and to weaken exploitation industries economically. Their actions have damaged many operations, shut down others, and prevented still others from ever forming for fear of attack. They may also utilize intimidation to prevent further animal abuse and murder. Read more here.

It’s just another reminder of why we ALL need to stand up and tell the true story of crop and animal agriculture. We each have a unique voice and can connect to non-ag consumers in our own manners. After all, we’re producing food for our own plates too. 2% feeding 100%.

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About Ryan Goodman (981 Articles)
Ryan Goodman lives in Helena, MT and comes from an Arkansas cattle ranching family. Since growing up on a family cow/calf and stocker-calf operation, he has spent the last several years learning about farming systems across the country. A graduate of Oklahoma State, Ryan is currently working on a Master's degree from the University of Tennessee. He works continuously to share his story of ranch life through community outreach and social media, all while encouraging others in agriculture to do the same.

37 Comments on California Activists Torch Cattle Trucks

  1. Caryl Velisek // January 11, 2012 at 9:06 AM // Reply

    So producing food for a hungry world (farming) is ‘an exploitation industry’. huh. Glad they cleared that up for me.

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  2. Nebraska Farm Wife // January 11, 2012 at 10:46 AM // Reply

    I felt my heart sink as I was reading this post. It amazes me that some folks want to end “factory farming” but yet attack a family farm. A family that after a little research seems to be doing a good job taking care of their animals and promoting what they do for a living.

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  3. Extreme actions such as this sadden and disgust me. Thank you for showing the other side, the side we all should be reading. Growing up in California, Harris Ranch has always been a positive icon in our community and it disgusts me that these extremists just attack without having all the facts.

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  4. Every time I see the term “factory farm” my hackles go up. These fools attacked a family farm and aren’t even smart enough to know it.

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    • Hate to be the family that has to live out there in the mud with those Cows. Harris obviously abuses their animals to pad their bank accounts. You ever been out in those fields where Harris keeps those animals?

      The animals that Harris raises NEVER eat a live blade of grass in their entire lives and live in the mud and their own excrement with little to no rotation. There is no rotation because there is nothing to grow back.

      Lots of, mud, excrement, cheap hay/feed w/pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics to keep the animals healthy and fat enough to slaughter. If you think that cows should eat only pesticide ridden hay/feed and no living plant food, then I hope your family has good genes to avoid the cancer and heart disease that will inevitably come as a result of eating on Harris Farm’s “family ranch”.

      Ever hear of cows eating real live grass?… try it some time, you’ll never go back to “Harris Ranch”.

      You can be sure, that’s a family farm, that I won’t eat off of.

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  5. What kind of world do we live in, when there is a subgroup that thinks it is ok to destroy property. This sounds like a terroristic act to me. Activists don’t destroy private property, they are terrorists.

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  6. My reaction was disbelief. I feel very strongly about some causes, but I can’t imagine what goes through someone’s mind to get to the point of proudly carrying out acts such as this. It was an eye-opening reminder for me of who we are dealing with. These are not rational, sit down over a cup of coffee to discuss our differences types of people, and that disappoints me. An undercover video is one thing. Blowing up 14 trucks is another.

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  7. It amazes me that we have come to the point where words are not enough for these people and respect for our fellow man has diminished to this point. They talk about respect for animals yet they can’t show respect for human life. If one thing had gone wrong someone could have lost their life.

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  8. As a former soldier I consider this an act of terrorsm and it should be investigated and prosecuted as such. I have had these idiots cutting fences to “release” my free range pigs, and attempt to cut the security fence around the wild boar woodland, they know nothing of “animal welfare” they are just anarchists.

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  9. It might be an eye opening experience for these “do gooders” to see just how many everyday grocery and health items are produced as by products from beef cattle and other livestock. It’s certainly more than the leather products that we are all thinking of. They should do a little more research on that and then see just how many of those products they also use. Hope the local law enforcement can catch and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

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  10. My family has known the Harris Ranch family for years and consider them friends. I am saddened that they have been attacked. I wonder if it is partly BECAUSE they are so open to the public. Do the activists want them silenced?

    I agree with Andrew, these people are terrorists and they are lucky they didn’t kill anyone in this attack. They should be treated as terrorists and not just arsonists.

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  11. That is the weirdness of California for you. Destroy a person’s right to earn a decent living supplying a decent product. Those weirdos need to get jobs and learn how to live without other people supplying their needs, then they might find out a little different. As for now, they are just leeches on society, taking but not giving, attacking but not supporting. Get out of the weird and get into reality folks.

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  12. Family operation, huh? 100,000 cows standing around in their own excrement, waiting to be hauled off to a slaughterhouse where their throats will be slit while they are hanging upside down, often fully conscious? Not the kind of family I’d want to know.

    Ever drive by their place on I-5 and smell the stench of their “family farm”? Meanwhile, 2000 gallons of water and 14 pounds of grain are used to produce every pound of “meat”, an unsustainable environmental atrocity in itself. Oh, and then half of the meat-eating public goes on to die of heart disease, known to be facilitated by a meat-based diet and prevented by a plant-based one.

    Go figure!

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    • Jerry,
      It’s clear from your comment above you are not familiar with Harris Ranch in the least, or for that matter, modern ag practices. I am a family farmer (6th generation actually) that sells my animals to Harris Ranch. I’ve been to the feedlot and through the slaughter house. And you know what? It was fabulous! My cattle were healthy and happy. The plant was clean and run in a manner that was low stress and promoted the animals well being.
      If you took the time to listen to those who are producing the food and fiber in this country you would learn something. Accusing us of environmental atrocities and abuse will give you no credibility or respect. You are not helping your cause by attacking farmers and ranchers. If you want to be taken seriously, use this opportunity to learn what you are talking about. Thank you.

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      • “Your” cattle were “healthy and happy” right up until the moment, while still young adults, they were hit in the head with a captive bolt gun, then hoisted up by their hind legs with a chain (unconscious if they were one of the lucky ones) then had their throats slit and bled to death. Why? So some human being could sell their flesh for a profit and others could enjoy the taste of their bodies. The violence you are willing to perpetrate against innocent non-human animals gives the actions of animal liberationists its true nobility.

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    • Click on Jerry’s name up there and go to his website… talk about making someone sick! The life and mindset that you lead are horrid. To post a comment like yours without even doing any research what so ever before you open you mouth. Do you even know what standards a slaughterhouse has to abide by these days? This isn’t Grandma’s farm where she hand butchers 20 chickens on a chopping block every day. These cattle are raised in the finest of quality with the most respect and care given to their every needs. From clean clear water and monitored diet rations, these cattle are living in ease! Do some research before you speak, maybe then you’ll pull your brain back into your own head instead of following the word of some “lord” you worship…

      still sickened by that website… oh, and by the way, they have a “donations” tab too… UNREAL!

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    • Jerry, decide. Do you want a family farm or not? And who’s to say that each employee isn’t responsible enough to take pride in providing quality care for the animals, even in an operation that size. I’ve worked for two of the largest cattle feedlot operations in the country and know that each employee has the responsibility and obligation to see to it that cattle are well cared for.
      RE your statistics on water and grain use. Where do you get those? Numbers from a recent report show that cattle producers have drastically reduced their resource consumption and waste output between 1977 and 2007. It requires approximately 211 gallons of water for every pound of beef produced, a 12% decline since 1977. And yes cattle do receive gains as an energy source, but do you realize how resourceful cattle producers are as we have transition to using a large number of grain and produce by-products as feedstuffs? Everything from distillers grains, bakery wastes, potatoes, and even candies are used to feed cattle today.
      You can paint a horrible image, using all of the grossly inaccurate adjectives you want Jerry, but none of it will change the truth. The truth being that farmers, ranchers, and employees of large operations do care. We care about the welfare of the animals in our possession and do not take the responsibility of food production lightly, because after all we are producing the food on our plates as well.

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    • Nebraska Farm Wife // January 13, 2012 at 9:56 AM // Reply

      Jerry – as a beef nutritionist I spend my day formulating diets and feed for cattle. It only takes about 8-10 lbs of finishing ration (a blend of grain, hay, mineral and vitamins) to produce 1 lb of beef. That diet will consist of 50-80% grain depending on the location of the cattle and what “alternative” feeds that are available in the area. Cattle in my neck of the woods only consume about 10-15 lbs of grain a day and gain between 3-4 lbs a day that is equal to 3.6 lbs of corn for every lb weight the calf gains. The rest of the diet consists of hay, vitamins, minerals, and distillers grain (product of ethanol plants). In Florida cattlemen feed citrus pulp (which would go to the land fill), we can feed bakery waste (products out of the baking industry that in not fit for human consumption, again land fill bound). When we talk about growing calves (before the feedlot) and cow/calf production very little grain is used if any at all. Our farm doesn’t feed a lb of grain to any animal on our place. We use pasture, hay, distillers grain (product from ethanol production), and carefully formulated mineral/vitamin mix. Our calves are 700 lbs when they leave our ranch and have gained 620 lbs since birth all on forages and “waste products” that are not fit for human consumption and on land that is not fit for crop production.

      Current research is showing that a pound of beef today produces 18% less carbon emission, is done on 30% less land, and uses 14% less water than in 1977 (30 years ago). The beef industry accounts for less than 2% of of the total green house gas emissions compared to 26% from the transportation industry (source EPA). Check out the links below for some real farm facts.

      http://www.explorebeef.org/CMDocs/ExploreBeef/FactSheet_EverydayEnvironmentalist.pdf

      http://www.explorebeef.org

      As for the harvesting of the animal, death is never easy. I imagine a police officer who sees murder, rape, assault on a daily basis will tell you that seeing a new case is Never easy. I have been in 4 different packing plants, been on the kill floor, seen the science behind the use of a bolt gun and believe that when used correctly the animal doesn’t feel any pain. The kicking and movement of the animal is muscle contractions that happen even if the animal is laying in a pasture and dies from natural causes.

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    • Actually most cattle are not hung upside down till they are killed. Also cattle are shot in a very humane way. People very rarely die of heart disease caused by cattle. It is usaully how the meat is handled after it is in the plant. Please we are not trying to argue with people like you we are just trying to make people better understand how it works and how it really isn’t that inhuman.

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  13. Jerry, except in the case of Kosher and Halaal slaughter, all animals must be rendered unconcious prior to being bled out, the new systems of sqeeze chutes designed by Temple Grandin allows for animals slaughtered under Kosher and Halaal regulations to be bled standing not shackled. Our on farm abattoir is approved by the RSPCA freedom foods regulations and the soil association organic regulations, our welfare standards are the best anywhere and we have already won awards from various welfare organisations.
    As for diet, our family has traditionally eaten more meat (and salt) than is considered “healthy” by todays’ standards, yet most of my ancestors have lived active lives well into their 90’s !!

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  14. I’m currently custom grazing replacement heifers for one of the largest grassfed beef producers in the state. This guy is about as farm from ‘factory farm’ as one can get. The cattle were still delivered via semi tractor trailer.

    In other words these folks don’t have a clue as to what they’re even outraged about.

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  15. I find it interesting that ALF wants to use all the words it can to make this sound like fighting the corporation. From what I’ve seen, it is a highly personal conversation for those in the area. You should read this post by a California rancher http://thebeefjar.com/2012/01/10/ag-bullies/ to see what I mean.

    jp

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  16. Jerry Vlasak – I just went to the website your name links to. Had a quick look at the payback link, and the first one you have up is a 12 year old boy who DIED at a rodeo. This is exactly the mentality of your section of society. Regardless of what your ideals and beliefs are, the death of anyone, let alone a 12 year old boy, is NOT something to be celebrated. Shame on you and your ‘friends’.

    The trouble with ‘activists’ such as yourselves, are that you never actually bother to find out the real facts before you act, all it takes is one ring leader to tell you whatever they want to, and you all follow like mindless robots. Perhaps some of you should get off your butts and do some actual research, from BOTH sides of the fence!

    While I do not agree with all farming practices, I do by far prefer a farmed animal that is treated with kindness and respect, including it’s humane slaughter, than that of a ‘freed’ animal that now has to attempt to fend for itself, and then to have it’s life end slowly and painfully because it no longer has access to veterinary treatment. Not to forget the ones ‘saved’ by do-gooders who do not know the first thing about what that animal requires to lead a happy and productive life, and thus the animal ends up worse off because it is now in the hands of ignorance.

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  17. Jerry Viasak should thank God every morning when he wakes from his warm bed covered in sheets and blankets made from materials produced by a farmer, puts on his clothes, part of which are probably leather, produced by farmers and ranchers. He should thank God for these farmers and ranchers for producing the materials these items are made from. And he should thank God for the American Soliders protecting his rights to say stupid and slanderous things. He has the right to be stupid and offensive because of the American Soliders whom a large part of them are also a product of family farming and ranching operations. May God Bless America! All of us!!

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  18. So Jerry, on a scale of one to ten, rate the satisfaction you’d have if there had been a trucker or two sleeping in one of those tractors which your valiant soldiers destroyed.

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  19. This disgusts me. It literally makes me ill to think about. These people have screwed reality so much that they don’t even understand what THEY stand for. This is ridiculous and the be quite honest, a tragedy. My prayers go out to the family who’s operation and livelihood was affected by this heinous act of destruction.

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  20. I would love to know how these people can justify the violence they use if they’re against the “violence against animals”.

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  21. I agree with several of the comments on here (minus the two by Jerry). I am not sure where the line in the sand gets drawn between ethical treatment and abuse for some folks. I know as a farmer, my biggest obligation is the care of the animals. I know that if my animals are not well taken care of the meat with be tough which results in dwindling consumers and will eventually put me out of business. I know that if my animals are not feed right they will have healthy issues, which will lead to drops in milk production…and then guess what, that means I lose money. I am a small operator so these things are at the highest priority with no room for error or flexibility.
    Some where along the way, there has been a massive confusion over the “commercial operations” that we all know are committing acts of animal abuse and neglect every day to those of us who I think (and sincerely believe) who are the majority. The majority who understands modern ag practices to do what’s best for the animal which will in turn makes us a little bit of money to do something we love doing.
    It doesn’t help at all when on a typical TV channel that is a major broadcaster like ABC, NBC or FOX doesn’t cover much of the positive side of agriculture. Advancements aren’t discussed openly and honestly through the major media outlets. All you hear are the negatives…and usually it’s the severe abuse cases. I do understand why it upsets people…it upsets me and I bet it upsets the majority of the people commenting on this page.
    I have rescued animals from animal abuse. Yet, I am still a farmer who produces beef, milk, milk products and eggs. Does that “lump” me into the same category as a severely overcrowded, abusive farm? Just because I farm?
    To all you active farmers (and the folks who support well cared for farms), we have to start talking to everyone about what we do. Stop depending on the circle of support and start step out into regular society conversations of whatever it is you produce or do. We have to start holding discussions with individuals and hopefully word of mouth throughout our perspective regions across the US and the world. Write to the local paper, talk to the radio shows…any where you can find an outlet that is willing to listen! Maybe the positive perspective will finally start taking shape instead of focusing on just the negative.
    Sorry to get long winded..but I think we all are thinking the same thing. How can we change this image of agriculture that seems to be bombarding us on our own operations?

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    • Very good points here and thank you for the comments. Many of these things are concerns that need to be addressed in our daily conversations and agvocacy efforts.

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    • I think you bring up a great point of what people consider to be “humane”. I consider it humane to not deworm my horses or take them to the dentist/vet to have their teeth floated yearly, because they’re left to graze of their own accord, and we rotate pastures with our cattle, who are known to NOT be hosts to equine parasites. But according to some, I’m inhumane because I don’t do those things. Some people are so egotistical and ignorant that they forget horses have been around FOR CENTURIES and have managed to survive with limited human intervention. And often these same people are so far removed from reality that they can’t see how butchering a pig, cow, goat, chicken (or dare I say, horse) can be at all humane. I guess they’ve never cut the head off a poisonous snake either, and seen him writhe and wriggle for (sometimes) hours after his head is removed.

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  22. As a truckdriver I have worked at all areas of the farming/producer industry. From hauling grain to and from farms, to hauling cattle and hogs from farms, to feed lots and to kill plants, and finally hauling the packaged meat from plant to grocery warehouses for distribution to local stores. I have toured kill plants in both Canada and USA and have always seen care for the animals. What scares me about this story is the total disregard by the radicals for there fellow men. All they succeeded doing with torching the trucks is put 12 hardworking men/women out of work. Men/women who have families to support and bills to pay just like everyone else. Many times I have slept in my truck while backed into shute, it is amazing no driver was hurt. As for Jerry, well I have had the pleasure of dealing with his kind on the road. Guys like him that come up to truck while you are getting fuel and threaten you for hauling cattle, or try to let the animals out while your inside paying for fuel. They think by setting animals free they are doing good, when all they are doing is putting animal and people in danger. My Aunt and Uncle had the family dairy farm when I was groing up. Spent alot of time there and was taught to always treat the animals with respect. To bad these radicals havent learned that.

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  23. I am a farmer/rancher and I have a trucking company, we haul hay and cows only and there is nobody better to do bissness with than country people like myself. With that being said I am glad to be a meat eater and that will never change.

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  24. I’ve seen a lot of media about this event, and I’m totally agree with the postings on here about the lack of respect for our fellow humans. I was also concerned of the lack of forsight from the planners regarding the potential for a spread of fire or harm to animals resulting from their actions. I do not at all support their actions and seriously question their motives in raising awareness beyond personal attention seeking (although the amount of social media coverage does contradict me there)

    I’m a PhD student in Canada, studying transportation practices and their effects on cattle. Admittedly, I was skeptical when I started. I had only previously been on the receiving end (especially of the reports of when things go wrong) and it’s not all happy, healthy cattle in the beef industry. We have to own to that. But what has been a lovely part of my education is that the MAJORITY of people actually involved in the day to day with cattle do care. And care a lot, every day, all day. Things go wrong, cattle get sick, pens get dirty. But people are out there dealing with the tough times, treating cattle so they get better and managing the pens. I could understand arguments that none of the bad would exist if we eradicated “factory farming”, but that is a huge discussion that would detract from this post string, and largely illogical.

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  25. i remember about 12 yrs ago when i was stationed in camp pendleton me and some buddy’s went to see the pbr (pro bullriding) out in cali. i got out of the truck and there was a girl holding a sign saying we shouldn’t use animals for food or clothes but she was wearing a leather jacket and boots. i asked her if she knew where the stuff came from and all she could tell me was the name of the store. well us country people know where leather comes from lol after explaining that to her she stopped protesting. i understand she was trying to do a good thing but you got to remember a lot of these people in cali don’t come from the country some do but most don’t! i am glad they want to do good in the world but they really need to educate themselves before they get that extreme with it. and yes i know i more than likely mispelled words and had run on senctence and all but like i said i am country lol

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  26. Just because they’re website claims thay are responsible does not prove that they are F*** FACE! just goes to show how gullible you people are.

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  27. I say if their website says they are responsible for the fire, then police should arrest all involved w/the website. Taking responsibility for a terrorist act is a confession, right?

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  28. You can’t argue with an animal activist. They’ve got some sort of a brain flaw and are unable to see reason…probably from all the chemicals sprayed on the veggies they eat.

    They don’t want animals to have a better life in captivity. They want the end of animals in captivity, to end all human use of every animal…that includes all pets (dogs & cats too), farm animals, hunting, fishing, zoos, etc. and on and on. Even if you keep chickens for their eggs in a golden coop and treat them like pampered pets that is still considered exploitation of a chicken. They value a rat’s life above that of a child.

    Like

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