MossValley: Letters to the North-China Daily News, 1909 - Cruelty in the Kitchen
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Cruelty in the Kitchen

Transcript from
The North-China Herald
(the weekly edition of the North-China Daily News)
correspondence page
10 July 1909

To the Editor, of the
"North China Daily-News."

Sir. — May I claim a little of your space for an appeal to the kindly feelings of the community in order to prevent some of the unnecessary cases of great cruelty that are practised every day to provide them with food.

To-day I stopped a cook on his way home, as I often do. He was carrying a young goose and a chicken by one wing each, dangling them about in the same hand with a leg of mutton and a chunk of firewood. The screams of both the goose and the chicken were simply sickening. When I released them I found the wing of the goose broken and lacerated, hanging down, and the chicken the same way. I had them both killed immediately, and am sorry I could not do the same to the cook.

I quote these gruesome details in order to send the matter home to people who read this. I feel sure that householders and housekeepers will not rest without warning their servants that if they treat purchases in this manner they will be severely punished by fine. A few examples made would stop it to a certain extent. If servants were supplied with a small wicker cage or basket such purchases could be carried much more conveniently and without any cruelty at all. If for no other reasons let me suggest that the eating of the poor things will be much more satisfactory if the meat has not been soured by such treatment. I hope that this will not be put away as the cry of a faddist, but that kindly people will make an effort to stop this cruelty, which makes the streets near the markets most trying to those who feel it.

The attention of the police has been repeatedly drawn to it at my request by their officers, but European and native police alike to my certain knowledge have allowed case after case to pass under their noses unheeded. If all policemen and cooks had wings, it would do them good to have a wing drill once a week, to be carried about for an hour by one of those delicate organs. May I be there if ever this comes to pass to give them a good dangle or two! These wretched birds have to be killed for human food, but it seems scarcely necessary to torture them for an hour previous to their death.

I am, etc.,
Arthur Pope.
Shanghai, July 7, 1909.


To the Editor of the
"North-China Daily News."

Sir, — Permit me to voice my endorsement of Mr. Pope's remarks in your edition of yesterday about the shocking cruelty committed daily before our eyes to the poor winged animals destined for consumption at our tables.

Mr. Pope, however, only touched one side of the question. The cruelty he complains of is continued till the beasts die, and the slow and unnecessarily painful death to which they are subjected is frequently unhindered by the foreigners employing these cooks. I have heard many ladies speak of the sickening sounds emanating from the kitchen and back yard during the slaughter of chickens, etc.

There is one way at least in which all possibility of this may be obviated, viz., by purchasing fowls, etc. from such of the foreign dairies as stock them, instructing the owners, when ordering, to kill the beasts before delivery. This at least saves the torture of transit and it is presumable that those engaged at the dairies under foreign supervision are somewhat more merciful slaughterers. In addition to which, householders have the satisfaction of feeling that their premises are no longer a miniature shambles.

We have here a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and it can only be hoped that they can be trusted to press for severe sentences in all cases of cruelty that come within their notice, but it is certain that more assistance should be rendered them by the paid members of our police in detecting cases.

Enclosing my card (not for publication) to show you that I have presumably no ulterior motive in advertising any particular foreign dairy or farm.

I am, etc.,

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