Do animals feel pain?

Farm AnimalsDo animals feel pain?  Of course they do!  Just ask yourself this question: if animals can’t feel pain, then why do researchers test pain medication on them?  Then ask yourself another question: if animals don’t feel pain, then why do they scream or wince when they are hurt? Of course they feel pain and are capable of suffering.

Famous Anthropologist Jane Goodall says that “…farm animals are treated as mere things, yet they are living beings capable of suffering pain and fear.” The Veterinary Merck Manual, perhaps the most standard reference in animal science and veterinary practice, states, “Based on what is known to date, all vertebrates, and some invertebrates, experience pain in response to actual or potential tissue damage.” In fact, scientists have found pain receptors in mammals, birds, and they have even found pain receptors in fish. If animals could only talk, and therefore beg for their lives, no one except the coldest of people would ever dare kill them. It’s time to face the fact that animals do suffer and that they do feel pain.

In our experience, many people try to deny the fact of animal suffering through a complicated and twisted maze of excuses. Some of these excuses come across to us as nothing less than exercises in denial, so that they don’t have to feel guilty or change their diet. Others fear a loss of business since meat is a big industry.  Another problem is that some people want to claim that the exclusive ability to suffer pain is one of the things that make people exceptional in the animal kingdom. These people are afraid that if they admit that animals can feel pain, then humanity has lost one of the things that make us exceptional. Presidential speechwriter and author, Mathew Scully, responds to this by saying that we should bravely face the fact of animal pain, act more compassionately towards the animals and  “…by just and merciful conduct show how exceptional we really are.”

Most of today’s farm animals are raised on what’s known as factory farms. These animals endure harsh conditions of extreme overcrowding, denial of every natural instinct and, all too often, direct mistreatment. They are almost treated like inanimate objects in a factory. Then there’s the slaughterhouse. It’s often been said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians.

Jeremy Bentham, a famous British judge and philosopher form the 1800’s asks the following question of humanity, “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

So, now that you know that animals suffer pain and fear, what will you do?  If you currently eat some animal products, you might find that making some changes to your diet is easier than living with all that pain and misery on your conscience, and having to come up with excuses for every meal. If you already avoid animal products, consider sharing our new animal brochure with friends who you think may be open to learning more about how animals are treated.  Show them, gently, that being a vegetarian is easy to do and it’s healthy, better for the environment, and so much better for the animals.