The Walking Dead fans around the world cringed at a scene from last week’s episode, “Them.” Despite the usual horrifying things that take place in this zombie-apocalypse world, this scene made the animal lover in all of us scream.
In the episode, the group is faced with a pack of feral dogs. The dogs, who were once pets, were fighting for survival in their terrible world and the group’s ever-deteriorating mental state was pressured by a water shortage and hunger. The humans, led by Sasha, decided to kill the feral dogs and eat them. The reality of what had just occurred was made even more gruesome by a shot of a discarded dog collar left on the side of the road.
Television reviewers and audiences everywhere take this scene to be symbolic of the group’s “loss of humanity,” meant to illustrate just how desperate times have gotten for this beloved group of characters. However, we can’t help but to ask why it is that we register a group of humans eating dogs as a “loss of humanity,” but don’t seem to find anything wrong with eating billions of farmed animals every day.
In fact, nearly seven billion chickens and 42 million cows are used in the meat industry in the U.S. each year. This scene, however chilling, isn’t far from what many animals face today. Despite having similar personalities, emotional abilities, and cognitive abilities, we treat farm animals and domesticated animals completely different. Cows, pigs and chickens are forced into miserable lives in feedlots and broiler sheds, facing tiny enclosures, filthy conditions and sickness. But dogs, cats and other “pets” are treated like members of the family and cherished. As pet guardians and animal lovers, we would never encourage the consumption of dogs or cats, but we just can’t understand why the majority of the world’s population never makes this important connection.
If the idea of eating a dog or cat appalls you and you couldn’t stand to watch that fateful scene from The Walking Dead, think about the animals in the meat and dairy industry. Though it isn’t easy or pleasant to consider, it is time to start making the connection between the animals on our plates and the animals cuddled up next to us. We can all take a hint from The Walking Dead’s own Norman Reedus and treat all animals with kindness and compassion!
Image source: Hypable