When people think of the Humane Society, they usually think of people busting dog fighting rings or illegal puppy mills, but as the president of the organization said to a small crowd in the Marshall Student Center on Wednesday night, most of animal cruelty occurs in legal factory farms all across America.
Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States, traveled to USF to speak to vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike in the Oval Theatre. In his speech entitled “Love and Cruelty Bound Together: Our Confusing, Complicated Relationship with Animals,” Pacelle spoke about the importance of humane practices for animals and humans’ well-being.
Addressing a crowd of about 30 people from USF and the local community, Pacelle began his speech with a short history lesson on the relationship between humans and animals in the U.S.
“The 1860s kind of began this massive degradation of the earth and our animals here in the U.S.,” he said. “The movement to cities then created a new problem for animals. People needed to get around and how did they do that? By exploiting horses.”
Pacelle also played videos of the conditions of factory farms in the U.S., including pigs in gestation crates unable to move as well as the rescue of domesticated animals and horses. The disgust of the crowd could be heard in their audible sighs and groans.
Florence Marsan, a Tampa local and a member of Florida Voices for Animala, said she was horrified by the videos she saw.
“I think America should really be heading the fight against animal cruelty and not be supporting it,” Marsan said. “I think things really need to be done at the local level and people really need to be made aware of this problem.”
Pacelle followed the videos with a call to action.
“Seventy-five percent of people say they would support laws to make farmers treat their animals better, then we need to start making changes based on these values we say we have. Our values have to mean something,” he said.
When asked what college students can do to make an impact on the issue of animal cruelty, Pacelle offered a simple solution.
“It’s great to be a cheerleader and we need as many of them as we can get, but the best thing a student can do is to look at his or her own lifestyle,” Pacelle said. “If everyone replaced one meal where they would normally eat meat with a vegetable choice, we could greatly reduce our impact on the environment.”