Drawing the line on 'humane' treatment

HAVING expressed a rare opinion on live exports recently, I was intrigued to read some of the internet blogging and cyber comments accompanying my piece.

Most comments seemed to be from people who felt that ending Australian live exports to Indonesia wasn’t really the solution to the problems raised by the Animals Australia footage aired on ABC television.

But what interested me most was how several opportunists seized on my Kelpie example in relation to the issue.

Just to refresh memory, the example was raised in the context of asking a valid question about the associated legal and moral jurisdiction of the animals seen being cruelly brutalised in the Four Corners footage - Australia or Indonesia?

I said, “At what point does the moral microscope no longer view them as being under our obligation and moral code” and “given that overarching question, we need to understand and define exactly where our moral and legal obligations start and end in a foreign country, where we have no real legal jurisdiction”.

My example was - If an Australian farmer sells his Kelpie, can they demand the new owner walks it nightly and has an easy work schedule, where the dog only chases sheep for three hours a day, instead of six, because of ageing hamstrings?

After all, dogs are supposedly man’s best friend but remember they don’t end up on family dining tables and nor do humans for that matter.

So my new question is, where do draw the line in understanding what is and isn’t humane treatment of animals.

Of particular intrigue for me was the blogger, “amy”, who took the example in my opinion piece and raised it at the foot of another related story about the industry’s new strategic solutions.

“But I would like to think if he found out the new owner was neglecting or cruel to that animal he wouldn’t be selling them another one,” said amy online.

I was so sad and distressed that amy ignored so much more of my work and selected the part she like the most, I thought I’d write back to express my discontent.

It was a good point, amy, and very true.

But what would happen if the owner’s livelihood depended on the selling decision and also that of the person it was being sold to.

But amy, whoever you are, wherever you are, please don’t stop blogging and expressing your views because after all, freedom of speech is as iconic to Australians as our farmers.

But what hurts me the most, amy, is how you ignored the vast majority of my article and only paid attention to the parts that suited your agenda to end live exports.

Would you sell your Kelpie knowing it was going to get treated inhumanely? Of course not!

But would you base your decision to sell that animal on a lop-sided document that mostly showed Kelpie’s being mistreated and largely ignored the hefty weight of evidence showing genuine work being done to improve animal welfare standards in that proposed market, while neglecting to tell the good stories with balance and accuracy, taking into consideration the cultural and economic differences, in context?

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28/09/2011 4:49:55 PM

Cattle are sold at auction to the highest bidder. The farmer does not know who is buying there cattle until the hammer has fallen.
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Canberra CommentFairfax Agricultural Media Canberra correspondent Colin Bettles tackles the big national rural and agricultural issues which will impact regional and rural Australians.


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