Since when did Hollywood celebrities become experts on animal husbandry? Whether it be a public relations stunt or the need for an endorsement deal, it seems many celebrities are willing to team up with the radical animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The latest celebrity PETA has added to its long star-studded list of advocates is actor Ryan Gosling, who has a beef with dehorning in the cattle business.
Tell me it isn’t so! Not Ryan Gosling -- the heart throb who starred alongside Rachel McAdams in ”The Notebook” -- THAT Ryan Gosling? When he dumped McAdams a few years ago in favor of Eva Mendes, another PETA spokesperson, I was certainly disappointed. But, now it looks like Mendes is influencing his personal values as well.
Keep in mind that Gosling and Mendes are out busily promoting their latest movie, “The Place Between The Pines,” so any visibility -- even the crazy kind that comes from PETA – is regarded as a good thing. A little extra buzz for the couple will certainly sell movie tickets, and many are calling one of Hollywood’s leading gentlemen, “a hero for the animals.” He's got the looks, the acting chops, and now he's standing up for animals. What’s not to love, right?
Gosling may truly believe he's standing up for something noble, but I think we have the opportunity to teach him the facts and, in turn, make him think twice about his PETA endorsement.
In a letter to The Huffington Post, Gosling writes, “Dehorning is a painful process in which calves have their horns gouged out or sensitive horn tissue burned out of their heads. There is absolutely no reason -- and no excuse -- for the cruel, unnecessary practice of dehorning to continue.”
While the article focused on dairy cattle, let’s not forget that dairy cattle are beef cattle, too. And, Gosling is addressing a management practice used by many ranchers.
If I had a chance to sit down with Gosling, I would skip the autograph request and tell him the truth about dehorning instead.
First, the use of dehorning in the beef cattle business has been greatly reduced over the years as cattlemen have gone to using polled bulls in their breeding programs, even going as far as to use homozygous-polled bulls. However, a horned calf still does need to be dehorned, not only for the safety of other animals but the people who work with those animals. And if the procedure can be done early in the calf’s life, the procedure is much less stressful on the animal.
The American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) recommends this when dehorning: “The AVMA recognizes that castration and dehorning of cattle are important for human and animal safety when cattle are used for agricultural purposes. Because castration and dehorning cause pain and discomfort, the AVMA recommends the use of procedures and practices that reduce or eliminate these effects. These include genetic selection when appropriate, and use of approved or AMDUCA-permissible clinically effective medications whenever possible. Studies indicate that preoperative use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents and local anesthetics reduce pain and distress associated with castration and dehorning.
“Both dehorning and castration should be done at the earliest age practicable. Disbudding is the preferred method of dehorning calves. Local anesthetic and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be considered for other dehorning procedures. Research leading to new or improved techniques that reduce or eliminate pain and distress associated with castration and dehorning, or development of viable alternates to castration and dehorning, is encouraged.”
I’m not saying dehorning is a pain-free procedure, but rest assured that cattlemen strive to use the best techniques to minimize animals' discomfort and speed their recovery. Although most of our calves are polled, we do have to dehorn the occasional calf, and it’s not a rare occurrence to see them belly up to the creep feeder immediately after the dehorning has been done. It seems these young calves recover very quickly from the procedure.
Before I torch my DVD of “The Notebook,” I’m hoping Gosling redeems himself. I think it’s time for him to dump both PETA and Mendes and get back to the business of making good movies. And, Ryan? If you’re reading this, you can come tour my ranch anytime. I promise, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that us cowboys aren’t as bad as PETA makes us out to be.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe most celebrities actually are knowledgeable about the causes they adopt? I'd like to read what you think. Leave your thoughts in the comments section.