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Freddie The Steer Escapes, But What About Other Cattle?

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Freddie the steer has taken social media and news outlets by storm.

Freddie, named after Freddie Mercury (get it? Breaking free?) broke out of a meat market and slaughterhouse in New York City. He ran rampant until he was re-captured by previous owners. The internet collectively lost their shit, posting videos, starting a twitter account, and feeding the viral frenzy. It was all good fun, especially considering that Freddie got a happy ending, a placement in a farm animal sanctuary.

What’s interesting is how we talk about creatures who get loose and make desperate escapes, like Freddie. This isn’t the first time an event like this has happened, and rest assured it won’t be the last – slaughterhouses and slaughter transport trucks are terrifying places that animals will fight their ways out of if the opportunity arises. But at what point does the media attention stop being about how cute the story is, and starts focusing more on what the animal was running away from in the first place? How many people rallied on Twitter and Facebook for Freddie, yet also consume animal products and support the industry he was rescued from?

There’s a lot of comments about how Freddie deserved his new safe haven for being so brave and really wanting his freedom, as if the countless other cattle don’t also have a right to life and went complacently and willingly to brutal deaths. In order to earn freedom, one apparently has to endure terror and hardship before being granted asylum. We demand that animals go through great stress in order to have a very simple wish granted – peace, and arbitrarily assign levels of worth depending on how interesting the story is.

Hundreds of cattle are slaughtered moment to moment. Over 35 million will likely die this year in the US alone. They will die nameless and without a cute story to accompany their journey through this short and brutal life, and will become just another statistic for the USDA to report.

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