I follow a lot of awesome vegans and a lot of vegan posts pop up on my dash. I’M NOT GETTING INTO AN ARGUMENT ABOUT VEGANISM WITH ANYONE. THAT’S NOT WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. I just feel like I need to address a trend I see pretty frequently:
Anthropomorphism of farm animals.
This is DANGEROUS, for both the animals and the people who believe what’s being said about these animals.
For example, cows.
For obvious reasons the images of cows in posts talking about how cows aren’t dumb, unfeeling hamburgers in waiting are generally like this:
And usually they’re accompanied by talk of how they can be trained, how they have best friends (which is actually true!) and how sweet they can be.
On the other side, there are posts like this going around
Thing is, cows do not cry tears like humans do. In fact, there are a lot of posts claiming to present animals weeping like humans do (and not always by vegans). In fact watery discharge can be a sign of early eye infections in cattle. Claiming they’re tears of sadness normalizes signs of ill health as normal animal emotions.
This is also I why I get so worked up over people saying a stressed out dog with its lips pulled back is ‘smiling and happy’.
All of these posts combine to make the popular perception of cows something they’re absolutely not and is very dangerous for people with their hearts in the right place looking to help the world out.
Cows are dangerous. I feel like I shouldn’t have to tell people that a thousand pound animal is dangerous, but I do. Not the people I see on my dash, but actual people looking to interact with actual cows (I work with them). Yes, they can be lovely and docile when socialized and handled correctly and consistently but if you have no way of knowing the cows background you have no way of knowing their temperament. If you decide to volunteer at cattle rescues, this will very likely be the case. Moreover, well socialized and docile cattle ARE STILL DANGEROUS AS FUCK. Even the most tame animals can lash out if in pain, under stress or “out of nowhere” (read: lashing out because from their judgement of a situation in makes sense to them, but you misread their judgement). So you get things like this:
With the huge emphasis on docile cows who are good, loving, devoted mothers it’s understandable someone would want to give her a calming and congratulatory stroke after giving birth.
That cow could have killed her.
This is obviously dangerous for humans but it’s also dangerous for cows. Aggressive animals are often euthanized, no matter what provoked the aggression and it also inflates statistics that could be used as a counter argument to veganism.
The same sort of thing happens to pigs.
The vegan info posts about pigs tend to use images like this:
Cute, eh? The posts also talk about how intelligent these animals are and how they can be kept as pets. Who wouldn’t want one? Usually people who look into pigs as pets look into ‘mini’ pigs or ‘micro’ pigs. Pigs that will stay small forever. Except even ‘mini’ pigs can grow to a hundred pounds in size and they’re STRONG. I say ‘mini’ because sometimes people are duped into buying regular piglets that are claimed to be fully grown.
Which brings me back to warning anyone who wants to volunteer at a pig rescue that pigs. are. huge. People mislead into thinking they’re not will likely not keep and care for their little pig once it’s not so little and I don’t know anyone who would/could keep a 500 lb hog in their home and/or backyard.
And, like with cows, they are DANGEROUS.
And, unlike cows, they are not herbivores.
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED AND EATEN BY PIGS. Yes, eaten. One could argue that this happens when pigs aren’t well socialized and habituated with humans, but if you’re working with a pig you don’t know you have no guarantee that they’re tame.
I could go on, but cows and pigs are the animals I see most represented in these posts (chickens too, but they pose less of a threat, unless you count avian flu) and another thing I see very frequently are cute pictures and videos and cows, pigs, and chickens interacting with dogs. If you’re under the impression that these animals are sweet and docile and your dog is also sweet, what could go wrong?
Odds are your animals will not be used to interacting with an animal of that species and these animals ‘languages’ don’t always translate! Animals get things mixed up all the time! The most common one I’ve seen is a dog misreading a cat’s irritated swishy tail as a wagging ‘I want to play!’ tail. Claws to the face aren’t fun, but attacked by a large animal? Possibly deadly. Dogs do not comprehend size and strength and potential for an aggressive strike in the same way that we do. That’s why you end up with things like this:
Again, that dog could’ve easily died OR MIGHT HAVE DIED LATER.
This little trooper was kicked by a cow
Projecting your feelings and ideas onto an animal can potentially kill them. Again, if you have the opportunity to work with these animals KEEP YOUR OWN ANIMALS AWAY.
All of these things remind me very much of the people who claim wolves are nothing but big puppies, or who cohabitant snakes so they don’t get ‘lonely’.
You can’t love and advocate for the protection of an animal when you only love and advocate for the protection of your fantasy of that animal because when real animals fall short of that, real animals get hurt.
Horses, cows, and pigs are big. Respect their size. Horses, cows, and pigs ALL have the potential to become aggressive. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Respect their potential to become aggressive.
Signed, a person who is sick to fucking death of watching adults assume every farm animal I work with has the personality of a bowl of whipped cream and the patience of a saint and encourage their children to interact with them as such. That’s how animal “attacks” happen, that’s how lifetime fears and hatreds are born.