Entertainment or exploitation?

Most of us are appalled by the sadistic nature of cockfighting and dogfighting. However, there are other industries that turn a profit by abusing and exploiting animals for entertainment. It has been confirmed that three dogs died during the 2008 Iditarod. Most likely, more dogs will die as a direct result of their participation in [future Iditarods]. During the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, Eight Belles died a horribly painful death. And 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro died last year from injuries incurred during another race.

Later this month, Ringling Circus will bring its own outrageous brand of cruelty to Asheville. Despite what the Ringling public-relations machine tells us, the animals it uses are clearly not treated with respect or affection. For example, the elephants in Ringling’s care are tortured and beaten with bullhooks in an effort to train and control them. This behavior by Ringling trainers has been thoroughly documented, and compelling evidence of such can be found by going to www.aspca.org and using keyword “Ringling.” In addition, graphic footage of this abuse can be found by going to www.youtube.com and using keywords “Ringling” and “elephant.” … We should all do our own research to discover the truth about how Ringling brings in significant revenue by treating sensitive animals as if they were inanimate commodities.

Finally, if we are disturbed by cruel treatment of sentient creatures and if we believe that we as humans define ourselves by how we treat others—not just other humans, but all species—then we should boycott Ringling Circus and any industry that abuses animals for a few moments of so-called amusement.

— Leslie Armstrong

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