4-H: Cruel to animals and kids
By Jennifer O’Connor, PETA
November 2, 2009
Like most little girls, my stepdaughter loves animals. She joined a local 4-H club when she was 9, solely because "cows are cool." Now that the fall 4-H animal auctions are upon us, I can't help but remember Bonnie's first "assignment" a beautiful cow named Dana with long lashes and ears as soft as velvet. We all grew to love Dana, but none more so than Bonnie, who spent hours grooming her and walking her on a lead.
I had misgivings about Bonnie's decision to join 4-H: Unlike an unsuspecting 9-year-old, I knew the ultimate fate of the cows and other animals used in this program.
My fears were realized a couple years into the program when Bonnie learned that Meredith, another one of "her" cows, who was sick and unable to reproduce, had been sold to slaughter for a mere $75. To see such a deep bond so ruthlessly broken was a painful and eye-opening lesson for Bonnie. Her club leader was genuinely puzzled and irked by Bonnie's tears, dismissing her as "sentimental."
Dana, Meredith, Kath, Elise, Lola. They all had names, personalities and quirks. None was like the others except in one critical way. Like all cows used to provide milk for human consumption, these cows were treated as breeding machines and were artificially impregnated again and again.
If there were ever animals that lived the easy life, it would be 4-H calves. These animals are pampered more than most people will ever experience. The point of these projects isn’t to make pets out of these livestock, it’s to teach proper animal handling, care and responsibility. It’s also to teach the next generation about food production. With that in mind, I would actually be worried about the 4-H kid that isn’t a little sad to see their livestock go down the road at the end of their time. After all, they have spent months caring for them and they should be proud of job they did. But I also know from my experience how proud I was when the person that bought my calf told me how great the beef tasted. After all, that was my ultimate goal. If PETA wants to criticize 4-H for teaching life lessons, then 4-H should wear that as a badge of honor. I’m proud of the fact that the 4th generation of my family is now starting 4-H. The lessons I learned in 4-H have served me well in my life. ~TH