26th November 2014
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our latest arrival Excalibur, despite being named after a sword of war, comes along with a special message of peace; of nonviolence toward his kind. Having made his way to us via an outer suburb pound, Excalibur’s life thus far has been anything but peaceful. Despite his gentle nature and penchant for cuddles from his new human friends, Excalibur has been used as a cockfighting rooster and bears the scars of many a battle gone by. A badly damaged beak and an eye that is no longer of use are just two of the visible scars this dear boy now bears due to the actions of his former ‘carers’. Artificially sharpened spurs and an upper beak that also shows signs of being unnatural are just two more of the no doubt many woes that plague this dear boy.
That the brutal ‘sport’ of cockfighting exists in our world is something many are aware of. The word alone conjures up images of fatal combat between two roosters, often in far flung corners of the globe, where animal welfare laws are lax or where none exist at all. But that cockfighting exists here in Australia, the ‘lucky’ country, in our own backyard is something many do not realise. This blood ‘sport’ takes the normal behaviour of a rooster and channels it into something that is anything but natural. The use of steroids and other substances, sharp and deadly metal spurs, brutal ‘training’ and other methods are just some of the sad and cruel realities of this horror ‘sport’ that would make any kind heart quiver. Another tragic cockfighting practice is the routine of ‘dubbing’ to which dear Excalibur has also been subjected. ‘Dubbing’ is the painful procedure in which a rooster’s comb, wattles (the fleshy skin that hangs from the chin) and sometimes earlobes are cut off. Whilst anaesthetic is encouraged to be used ‘if available’ it is recognised that this is rarely the case and is one of the reasons that the RSPCA Australia is opposed to the practice as it causes unnecessary pain and distress. Whilst the practice is illegal in the ACT, The Australian Poultry Standards currently allow dubbed fowl to be exhibited at shows. In addition to the pain and distress associated with the procedure, blood circulating through the comb and wattles allows roosters to regulate their body temperature, a natural process that too is hindered by this invasive procedure.
To know that dear Excalibur has endured such hardship breaks our hearts but it too heals them to know that he will never know such pain again. Excalibur’s ordeals thus far only strengthen our resolve to tell his story and to encourage a world of nonviolence toward all creatures. For he is Excalibur, grand, noble yet gentle; he is the sword that heals.