Jessica Long’s nine-year-old daughter, E.L., raised her goat Cedar for her 4-H project, which is run by Shasta District Fair. 4-H is an agricultural youth club designed to inspire children to become future farmers. During her year in 4-H, E.L. raised Cedar, worked and trained with him, and ultimately showed him before he was due to be auctioned for slaughter. It was at this time that the reality of her endeavor began to set in: her friend, who she had bonded and played with, would be sent to the slaughterhouse and violently killed.
By Simon Plazolles-Hayes
Making the Connection
Having recently suffered the loss of three of her grandparents, the reality of Cedar’s destination was too much to bear, and so with the help of her parents, she saved Cedar from the slaughterer’s knife. This was the happy ending Cedar deserved, but regretfully it was not what he received.
When Shasta District Fair discovered that Cedar was not on the trailer with the other goats, they demanded that he be returned and slaughtered. When he wasn’t, they notified the police, who sent deputies to drive over 500 miles across six California counties to raid animal sanctuaries using forceful tactics. Cedar was found. He was taken to a slaughterhouse, forced inside, and killed.
All Animals Are Individuals, Just Like Cedar
For many of us, when we hear about this injustice we are rightfully angered. Cedar was not only this little girl’s friend, he was a sentient and valuable being in his own right. He felt fear and freedom, and deserved to live a life in peace, free from human intrusion and abuse. The Shasta District Fair board members saw Cedar, not as an individual, but as an object worthy only of death.
Cedar’s death has attracted much attention, yet how often do we consider the other “Cedars” on farms around the world? Individual animals who matter and feel, individuals with inalienable rights that are disregarded, and who are forced into a system that mistreats, kills, and shows nothing of mercy, compassion, or love?
My Time in 4-H
When I was young, I grew up on a farm and participated in 4-H, showing goats and market lambs and a llama I named Hamilton. I raised animals for slaughter and experienced what E.L. felt when it came time to say goodbye. After the auction, the pens were filled with the doomed animals, accompanied by the cries of young 4-H-ers all experiencing this same feeling. No fairground is different, they all feel loss.
I didn’t have E.L.’s courage. Even though she started her project knowing that Cedar would be slaughtered, she rejected this outcome and fought to change his fate. She questioned the status quo of why we need to do any of this, and showed why we as humans capable of showing mercy to others should act when there is even a chance that we can change outcomes for the better.
It is never too late to do the right thing, and it is never too late to do something positive for animals. Be like E.L., because every animal sliced and packaged in your local supermarket had a right to live, just like Cedar.
Do the right thing for animals today, by choosing vegan.
Simon Plazolles-Hayes is a former farmer turned animal rights advocate, and the Social Media Coordinator for GenV.