Why the rescue of one cow means so much...
There has been several news bulletins and an outpouring of emotion on social media about Carol, the petrified mother cow who escaped the floods but was shot dead by police after running for her life. In addition to the tragic loss of human life experienced by residents of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland from the recent floods, the the death and drowning of countless animals just like Carol due to the flood only adds to this tragedy.
Found alone and frightened in suburbia, Carol appears to have either swam or was washed 30kms down the flooded river caused by the ‘rain bomb’ . Once we heard about locals trying to lasso her in Tweed Heads , we rushed there to negotiate her rescue and bring her to sanctuary. However after 13 hours and with a plan in place to get her to safety, she was suddenly shot dead by police. We are understandably devastated, and Carol’s story is important in more ways than you might think.
At Farm Animal Rescue, we have the honour to get to know each rescued cow, and find some are bold and adventurous, others shy and timid. Some friendly and considerate, others bossy and devious. Every one of them is an individual who values and enjoys their life, are socially complex, can learn and have long term memory. They can recognise cow faces as well as the faces of other species. Whilst after a long life well lived we take comfort in their death as the natural order of things, we grieve today as Carol never experienced all that life as to offer. As a product of the agricultural industry, she was as a unit of stock to be sold, impregnated and eventually killed at a fraction of her natural life span. And in being washed away by flood waters, Carol was placed in a position where she was unable to fend for herself, even when her owners were unable to provide safety for her.
When the bond between animals and humans can be so strong, we also mourn today because Carol never had the opportunity to experience human kindness. We witnessed her agitation and fear as members of the public surrounded her. And we marvelled how even exhausted after her terrifying ordeal and near drowning, losing her baby and being separated from her herd, she fought hard for her life. Everything that happened to her was exactly as she anticipated. She feared death or injury, which is why she fought so hard, and in the end she was shot as she was literally running for her life. She died in terror, her death neither humane nor quick, never knowing the kind touch or soft word of a human.
But mostly we grieve for Carol today because her suffering and death is so completely unnecessary. The emotional outpouring we are witnessing tells us that many people feel Carol is so much more than a unit of stock in the agricultural industry. If we do not think too deeply, we can forget about all the Carol’s, and in turn be a part of needless suffering. If Carol is a thinking feeling and emotional being similar to our companion animals, and exactly like the millions of intelligent, bright and sentient creatures we label ‘food’ animals, then deeper thought is essential. And when faced with an animal suffering the same terror, loss of life, displacement from family and tragedy such as all the people caught up in this flood disaster, it is difficult not to connect her suffering with that experienced by us all.