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Is jail time justice for abused farm animals?

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The Guardian shared the story of Owen Nichol, an eighteen year old farm apprentice that was caught on tape abusing cows and calves. Animal Equality was responsible for capturing a four minute clip of his crime, that saw him excused from his job and facing two charges of causing unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act of 2006. He ended up with 150 hours of unpaid work and a suspended prison sentence of 12 weeks, due mostly to his age and previously clean record.

Animal Equity and the RSPCA aren’t happy with that outcome, and wish Nichol was put behind bars for his “disgusting attacks on vulnerable cows and calves.” They’re calling anything less than jail time inadequate punishment and claim without their investigation, he would be free to exact his anger on cows today.

So while most vegans and non-vegans would agree that kicking, throwing, and slapping animals would constitute unnecessary suffering, why do we still consider the legal, socially accepted suffering of cows and calves less deserving of retribution? Why is jail the answer to hurting an animal, but freedom is the expectation for all those who support standard animal exploitation?

If jailing Nichol makes sense, than so would bringing all non-vegans to trial. It’s suffering to be bred, raised, artificially inseminated, torn from you calf, and killed. Suffering not only applies to the living conditions or handling of an animal, but the complete disregard of them having any rights. Since animals are seen are property in the eyes of the law, an animal’s moral value isn’t considered. Although welfarism attempts to counter that property status by bringing up suffering, it actually supports the continued use of animals that aren’t “made to suffer unnecessarily” by saying only those overstepping the laws are wrong.

Going vegan is the only way to recognize and promote the moral value of animals. Legitimizing some suffering or cruelty is not enough. Justice is not locking away some, it’s freedom for all animals.

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