25 OCTOBER 1930, Page 19


[To the Editor of the SPnclwron.1 Sun, The Spectator continues to publish letters on huruano slaughter. ('an it really be ignorant ? Does• it not know perfectly well that very much greater cruelties than inhumane slaughter are practised on every male animal intended for food ? It is scarcely believable that prudery should cause the Spectator to keep silent on this question.

Let anyone unacquainted with the facts go and see a pig killed with a knife and then see a pig castrated. There is no comparison. Not only is the operation itself far more painful, but the animal obviously continues to suffer longer. If anyone is genuinely interested in the welfare of animals, he will devote his attention to reducing the amount of suffering caused by castration. There is a large field here for scientific research.

The corresponding operation on female animals is luckily seldom performed except on pigs. It is quite clear that the public is unaware that ovariotomy is still commonly practised on female pigs. It is a major abdominal operation, performed without anaesthetics by people quite without surgical training.

Many years ago, in the course of my scientific research, I wanted to ovariotomize some of my female pigs, in order to study the effects upon other parts of the body. I was young then, and it would have been difficult for me to get a vivi- section licence. If I had performed the operation. aseptically and with an anaesthetic, I should have been imprisoned. I had. therefore, to give up the project. Shortly afterwards I was talking to the man who looked after the pigs for me. lie told me casually that he had had them ovariotomized as a matter of course. Their carcasses would be worth a few pence more when they were killed. It was legal for an uneducated man to tear open their bodies without an anaesthetic so as to put a few more pence into my pocket : it was illegal for me to per- form the operation upon them with an anaesthetic in order to increase knowledge.

Ovariotomy should be made absolutely illegal except to veterinary surgeons and the holders of vivisection licences. Research on the improvement of the technique of castration should be undertaken. The Spectator has the welfare of animals at heart. Why does it not mould public opinion in these directions, instead of concentrating its attention on the much smaller evil of inhumane slaughter ?—I am, Sir, &c., JOHN R. BAKER. Department of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy,

University Museum, Oxford.

[Prudery will never prevent us from drawing attention to preventable cruelty, and we are glad to publish Dr. Baker's letter.-Eo. Spectator.]