While the turkeys are getting nervous and the butchers are doing a roaring trade in this crucial last week before Christmas, a very unwelcome slaughter has taken place in Letchmore Heath, Herts. Gangotri was a sacred cow at the Bhaktivedanta Manor Hindu temple; she had been injured in what the report calls 'a mating injury' last September and had been unable to stand since then. She was given a fatal dose of barbiturate by an RSPCA officer last Thursday and her death was received with a great deal of shock and upset by the temple's staff, especially the temple's farm manager who cared for her and insisted that her quality of life was good despite her injuries.
The passionate and opposing opinions of the temple's staff and the RSPCA officers who came to kill the cow proves that the debate between religious belief and medical principles rages on with the killing of sacred cow Shambo in South Wales earlier this year still fresh in peoples' minds. A quick scan of the comments attached to the news article shows just how fraught and difficult this issue can be to discuss sensibly and without the unhelpful interjections of 'well i think its cuz u dont want to go back to your country' calibre commentary.
The temple staff are accusing the RSPCA of having no interest in saving the lives of animals, only the extermination of them. The RSPCA are accusing the temple staff of keeping an animal in constant pain and discomfort beyond reasonable rescue. While it is at heart a religious issue, the implications and effect of situations like this go far beyond into medical, ethical, environmental and political arenas.
It makes the annual Christmas debate about turkey, chicken, duck, goose, beef or ham for the big dinner seem rather small.