November 30, 2003 - New London Day: Honduras RPCV Jennifer Felt works with Humane Society International

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Honduras: Peace Corps Honduras: The Peace Corps in Honduras: November 30, 2003 - New London Day: Honduras RPCV Jennifer Felt works with Humane Society International

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Honduras RPCV Jennifer Felt works with Humane Society International

Honduras RPCV Jennifer Felt works with Humane Society International

For Animals' Sake She Pulled The Trigger

Day Staff Columnist
Published on 11/30/2003

Our son, Sam, and his fiancée, Jennifer Felt, negotiated nine hours of traffic last week driving up from D.C. for Thanksgiving, but for Jen the journey was decidedly longer and viscerally more distressing. On the occasion of a feast, she came fresh from the slaughter.

She works for the Humane Society International, the global arm of the Humane Society of the United States. Headquarters are in the nation's capital. She is program manager for all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the two years she's worked for the privately funded organization, it's simpler to name the few countries to which she has not been sent: Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Colombia. She deals with four principal concerns: Illegal trade of wildlife; humane methods of stray/street animal control; working equine welfare, and the economic benefits of humane slaughter.

Jen is 26, a University of Vermont graduate, a former Peace Corps volunteer fluent in Spanish and, the one dicey stamp in the macho world of Latin America, a woman. Working for the humane slaughter of animals in developing countries, she has to confront traditions in which, she says, killing entails extreme suffering in the transport, handling and dispatching. Being a woman in a culture and an industry predominantly male doesn't make it easier.

Her boss decided it would help both her credibility in those countries and her understanding of humane slaughter if she did it herself. This is a woman so distraught at the future of two cats she had to leave behind when she left the Peace Corps in Honduras, that she eventually worked her way back there, retrieved the cats and brought them home.

The prospect of killing beef cattle appalled her. She would do it in England, she was told, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture would not allow her into domestic slaughterhouses. She arrived in England last weekend and spent Monday being instructed in theory and procedures, and test firing the pistol. “That night was very difficult,” she said.

On Tuesday, she was taken to the slaughterhouse outside London, met with a veterinarian and inspectors on the premises and changed into rubber boots, two pair of overalls, a hair net and hard hat. She was not given gloves or goggles. She'd been told she'd kill a minimum of three steers.

The process, actually, is called stunning. The steer comes through a chute, alone, into a walled, open box. The slaughterer waits for the animal to calm and, from above, maneuvers around to its head. A captive bolt, the size of a bullet, is fired point blank into the steer's head where an imaginary X crosses between the horns and eyes. The animal collapses, unconscious and numb to pain. Then the animal is shackled and hoisted. The throat is slit and the animal bleeds out.

That's what she learned in the classroom. “Everyone tried to calm me,” she said. “You just want to do it right. Otherwise the animal would suffer.” She did it right. That's what the head slaughterer told her after the first shot. “I just wanted to get it over with,” she said. “I told myself that by doing this I was helping alleviate the suffering of thousands of animals.”

She flew home on Wednesday, arrived in D.C. at noon and was on the road north with our son. It was all still settling as we gathered for dinner on Thursday. For the sake of the economies of poorer nations and for the treatment of animals, she fired a pistol into a steer's brain, and did it again.

Even for the advocate that she is, this defined devotion to her work.

This is the opinion of Steven Slosberg

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Story Source: New London Day

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Honduras; NGO's; Humane Society; Animals



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