Real animal welfare walks through Texas wildfires

By Nathan Smith

It’s 3 a.m. The air is hot, the wind is rising. Smoke is heavy in the sky.

A wall of fire rages through a pasture and only minutes before an entire herd perished in the flames. The only thing between other frightened cattle and impending death is a rancher.

This is not a fictional scenario. It’s one that has played across Texas for the last six months. And with little rain falling, it will continue.

Just this week, my father experienced a similar situation. With a change of wind, a brush fire that was miles away suddenly threatened property and livestock. He and a small rescue team of ranchers made a run through flames and blinding smoke to remove the cattle from harm’s way. The pasture that was a home to his cattle is now a blackened wasteland.

Animal activist groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) spend a great deal of time and energy throwing fiery darts at livestock production, claiming ranchers don’t care about their animals.  The animal activists try to portray the rancher as someone without a heart, cruel and cold to the plight of animals.

Here the cows were in their “native habitat,” free to come and go as they choose. They had plenty to eat and fresh water to drink, in what some might call “cowtopia”. Yet without the intervention of the rancher, these animals would have suffered great pain and agony before dying a cruel death.

I wonder what animal activists would say after talking with a rancher who would go through fire for his cows. I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

Unfortunately, not all ranchers have been so lucky as my father. Several cattle have become victims of wildfire, leaving bloated bodies and distraught cattlemen in its wake. While some animals have died, a much larger number have been saved thanks to firefighters, ranchers and volunteers.

More than three million acres have burned in Texas. Most of it was valuable grazing land that will take lots of time and rain to restore. In the meantime, ranchers in the Lone Star State are doing what they do best – adapting.

Many are feeding hay, some will sell their herds, and a fortunate few still have some native grassland left. No matter what tough situation, Texas ranchers’ look out for their stock.

One Response to “Real animal welfare walks through Texas wildfires”

  1. sueonthefarm says:

    My heart aches for the livestock who have perished in the wildfires and for the ranchers and farmers who have lost everything. As our own grass continues to wither in this drought, I draw encouragement from God and from those ranchers who persevere. The national media does not show the world ranchers caring for livestock in ice storms, hurricanes, wildfire, nor droughts – we are the ones who truly value our animals. Thank you for the reminder of the sacrifice some livestock owners must make.

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