Human Crimes Against Animals, Part 33 - Other Organized and Institutional Cruelty
An Animal Rights Article from


Dave Bernazani

Omak Suicide Race (Omak, Washington state)– The Omak Suicide Race is the most disgusting part of the Omak Stampede, a rodeo held in a small town in eastern Washington since 1935. The race regularly and routinely kills horses. Just since 1984, there have been at least 20 documented horse deaths. Next Scheduled Cruelty: August 6 – 9, 2009. After a galloping start, horses plunge over an almost vertical drop of about 225 feet. The horses do not realize where the ground is until it is rushing beneath them. They cannot see horses ahead of them. This is documented cruelty.

Glue traps (global): A mouse caught in a glue trap may struggle for days, eventually dying from starvation, dehydration or loss of blood after it has chewed off one or more of its own limbs trying to escape. It can take anywhere from three to five days for the animal to finally die. The traps also kill birds, chipmunks and other native wildlife.
Wildlife trapping/smuggling trade (global): not much needs to be said about this. But the greed continues around the world, and a large portion of the animals are purchased by westerners, especially in Europe and the U.S.– people who should know better.

Caged birds (global): The age-old practice of keeping birds in cages simply for amusement or decoration is outdated and wrong. Birds are intelligent creatures that deserve to do what they were born to: fly, not waste away their lives in a cage as someone’s object of decoration.

Horse-drawn carriages in cities (global): Horses are forced to toil in all weather extremes, dodge traffic, and pound the pavement all day long. Once in Barcelona I saw a carriage going by hauling some tourists on a hot summer day; the riders were clueless that the horse, panting and looking exhausted, his tongue hanging out, looked desperately at me as he continued up the hill before I could think to protest. The driver, however, should have known better. But of course, to give the poor horse a rest might have meant less money for him. (That’s what animal cruelty almost always comes down to: them or money.) These gentle animals suffer from respiratory ailments because they breathe in exhaust fumes, and they develop debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. In some cases, horses have even dropped dead from heatstroke after working in scorching summer heat and humidity.

Running of the bulls (Spain): All over Spain, confused, frightened bulls are poked and prodded with electric cattle prods into running on slick cobbled streets, where they will often fall, even breaking legs and horns. The race course literally dead ends into a bullfighting ring, where the animals will come face to face with their own death in a way that most of the human racers will never see. Death is not pretty inside the bullring. A man on horseback will jab the bull with lances and puncture him with barbed sticks called banderillas. The great beast, drained of blood and energy, will then face a matador who will ritualistically tease the bull before sticking one last blade into the animal’s heart.

“Shearing of the Beasts” (Spain): Wild horses are rounded up from the surrounding hillside and guided into an enclosed arena, where men and women wrestle the horses trying to pin them down long enough to brand them and cut off their tails. The participants and local authorities say the horses aren’t mistreated or killed, but I would imagine being slammed to the floor and getting branded with a hot iron isn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world.

“Grindadrap” tradition (Faero Islands): A tradition of The Faeroe Islands, Grindadrap is a tradition that goes back to the 10th century and it involves the killing of pilot whales that swim in the area. Modern technology has made this ancient hunt a lot easier, the first ship that spots a pack of pilot whales approaching the coast, radios the other ships and together they form a half-circle, driving the whales into “The Bay of Blood”. This is where the alerted islanders rush into the water armed with special 7-inches-long knives called “grindknivers”, which they use to cut the animals’ carotid artery and jugular. The carcasses are then dragged to shore and butchered.

Horse tripping and steer tailing (Mexico): During horse-tripping events, also known as piales en lienzo, contestants score points for literally tripping horses, bulls, or steers. With the use of electric prods, Mexican cowboys or “charros” force the animals into full gallop and then lasso their hind legs or forelegs, causing the animals to come crashing down to the ground. Witnesses have noted that charros continue to trip animals until they’re lame. Horses break legs, necks and teeth. They fracture their shoulders, and batter their knees and hocks. You can see deep gashes on their faces, shoulders, hips, legs and heels, and the ropes often burn their flesh down to the bone.

Horse soring (USA, other?) Soring is the intentional infliction of pain through the use of chemicals, action devices and other pain-inducing applications to the foot of the horse, which artificially induce the animal to react with a high stepping gait and achieve a competitive advantage in the show ring. Soring is still practiced today despite USDA’s diligent efforts to regulate it. “Pressure shoeing”– the most egregious form of illegal horse soring – is the cruel and abusive technique of trimming a horse’s hoof almost to the bloodline so the shoe puts painful pressure on the horse’s sole, forcing an exaggerated high gait. In some instances, foreign objects are placed between the sole and the shoe or pad which is nailed to the hoof, to create painful pressure on the sole.

Alligator Baiting (Warm coastal areas, including the U.S.): to catch alligators for their skin and/or meat, people set poles along the water’s edge dangling large baited hooks. Alligators swallow the hooks and are left often for days to hang in agony, awaiting death, if they don’t die first by organ rupture, dehydration or hemorrhage. There may also be other creatures that start eating them while they are still alive. Even fish rarely suffer this much in the fishing industry. It is completely legal in Louisiana and Florida. These ancient and very intelligent reptiles deserve better than this. Who’s fighting it: unknown. It’s sad how little information is available on this type of cruelty. I only found out about it because of one article in the Washington Post which gleefully reported about a lady who “caught gators” by the dozen this way. If anyone knows more about it and would like to share, please email me at Thanks.

Rabbit/Hare Coursing (U.K.): Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with greyhounds and other sighthounds. Just recently banned in 2005 (along with foxhunting) in the U.K. where it began, it still continues illegally today. This use of rabbits as live bait is reviled by some, and stubbornly continued by others as a “tradition”. In a typical coursing match, a rabbit is released into a large open field that is tightly fenced. When it was legal, at one end of the grounds was a grandstand, and many stories noted that the finely dressed female spectators, rather than being reserved and delicate, were more bloodthirsty than the men. Traditionally, a man called a “slipper” held two competing greyhounds — sometimes four — on a leash while the rabbit was given a head start. The dogs were released to chase the rabbit and were trailed by a man on horseback who judged the race by assigning points to the dogs’ agility catching its prey. If the rabbit wasn’t dead when the dogs were through, someone killed it by stepping on its skull. This bloodsport was not just confined to the rich, as foxhunting was; anyone with a dog and somewhere to hunt rabbits could do it. Some hunted for food, but the wealthy considered it a “sport” and competed for wagers and prizes.

Badger Baiting and Badger Digging (U.K.): Every year, thousands of badgers meet a horrific death in the name of “sport” at the hands of British terriermen. And the figure is still rising, in spite of the practice being illegal since 1835. Although it is believed that around 2,000 people catch, torture and kill badgers, only about three are caught and prosecuted each year, while the rest go on breaking the law. Small terrier dogs are sent down into the badger setts and hold the badgers at bay. The men then dig their way into the sett and drag the badgers out. If they’re lucky the badgers will be shot, but usually the men will set their dogs on the badgers, watching them suffer a long and agonizing death as the dogs tear them apart. The men may also stab the badgers with shovels for good measure. Alternately, badgers may even be transported to secret places where they are pitted against dogs until they are killed, either by the dogs or the so-called humans who gamble on the fights. This is yet another example of cruelty I had no idea even existed until just a few days ago. What is most surprising is that it takes place in Britain, where the RSPCA was founded almost 200 years ago, the first animal welfare society of its kind anywhere in the world. It seems cruelty is slow, very slow, to be eradicated. (This information was obtained with thanks from the Campaign for the Abolition of Terrier Work).

Botox Testing: The testing of Botox is one of the most blatant cases of animal cruelty that I have found in a long time. Technically it falls under “Laboratory Testing” above, but it’s growing at such a fast pace and most people don’t know about the cruelty involved, so I had to include it here. There are about one million Americans presently using Botox and they spent an estimated $360 million on Botox injections in 2005. But what exactly are all of these people injecting into their faces? It is one of the most toxic bacteria ever discovered. It’s botulinum toxin A, derived from bacterium botulinum—the same bacteria that causes botulism, a poisonous illness that can lead to paralysis and even death. When injected into the skin, Botox paralyzes the muscles, which evens out fine lines and wrinkles. It’s no wonder people who use Botox look expressionless. Their faces are literally paralyzed. The treatment is temporary, causing people to continually and addictively get Botox injections. There are no studies that demonstrate the long-term safety of such a vicious cycle. Even if you can overlook the unknown safety issues associated with long-term use, there are direct dangers linked to having even just one injection. And because Botox is so dangerous, every batch has to be tested on animals to determine the proper dosage. Reports regarding animal testing of Botox are barbaric. Animals are injected with Botox at varying dosages. The LD50 (Lethal Dose in 50% of subjects) standard is used, (The designers of the test in 1927 acknowledged serious inadequacies, intending it only for certain narrow medical purposes. But since it’s cheap and easy to inject animals, laboratories worldwide use it for testing everything from industrial cleaners to cosmetics.) The animals that receive too much Botox die a horrible death; usually taking three or four days to die of agonizing suffocation. And that takes place every time a batch of Botox is made —$360 million dollars worth each year!

Using dog and cats as shark bait on Reunion Island (and probably other island or coastal regions, including Hawaii). I first thought this must be a hoax or a joke. I thought this dog just accidentally got a hook stuck in him. But it’s no joke and not a hoax. It is documented and even the National Geographic Society has investigated it. On the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, fishermen have been using live dogs and cats as bait for sharks. This practice is specifically outlawed by French law but the law, as in many places throughout the world, is ignored by fishing communities who apparently believe they are above the law. The dogs and cats, sometimes strays, sometimes stolen pets, have hooks passed through their snouts or through the tendons in their legs and the hooks are attached to lines and rods. The hapless animals are then tossed into the water where their struggles attract sharks. Fortunately it is not largely practiced on the island, but it still happens and evidence of it is discovered continuously. There is nothing I can say about this outrageous practice that would begin to condemn it. I leave that to the reader.

Go to Human Crimes Against Animals, Part 34 - Solutions
Go to Human Crimes Against Animals - Introduction

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