Feature

Kindness to animals can become cruel.

The week's news at a glance.

Jon KatzSlate.com

I shot my lamb, and I wish my neighbors had shot theirs, too, said Jon Katz. I raise sheep on my upstate New York farm, and last year I gave three lambs to a couple who had just moved up from the suburbs. Over the winter, one of my lambs and one of theirs took sick with the same mysterious infection. Both grew weak and disoriented, their fleece peeling off in patches. Knowing the old farmyard axiom, “Sick Sheep Seldom Survive,” I carried my lamb behind the barn, “told him how sorry I was, and shot him twice in the back of the head with my .22. He died instantly.” My neighbors, though, have a more “contemporary urban sensibility about animals.” Doting on their lamb as if he were a family member, they moved him into a spare bedroom, feeding him fresh hay and nutritional supplements. But months later, he still “looks like a concentration-camp sheep.” I don’t question my neighbors’ motives, but they merely are prolonging the animal’s suffering. I’m afraid their efforts have more to do with “their own emotional gratification” than with what’s truly in the best interests of the lamb.

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