Sunday, May 21, 2006

Follow the Money

During the investigations of the Nixon administration and their associates following the break-in at the Watergate hotel, reporters Woodward and Bernstein were told by their informant to "follow the money". That axiom is true in all aspects of life, regardless of politics or function. As we see now, it also applies to the animal kingdom and their tenuious relationship with the humans.
Unless you were in a cave over the weekend, you know that potential Triple Crown winner Barbaro came up lame at the start of the Preakness on Saturday with what turned out to be multiple injuries to his right-rear ankle. It was sad and painful to watch, which didn't prevent the TV news folks from showing it repeatedly. I was almost driven to tears while watching it live, knowing the consequenses that awaited the horse, as well as the pain that the animal must have felt. There is even a painful-to-watch front page photograph of Barbaro's dangling foot, right there on the front page of my favorite newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer today.
For a good deal of the day on Sunday, the injured horse was in surgery in attempts to both repair his ankle and save his life. The surgery, it turns out, would not have been performed or even considered had the horse not been the most recent winner of the Kentucky Derby. They took Barbaro to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was attended to by Dr. Dean Richardson. In a moment of honesty, Dr. Richardson said, "You do not see this severe injury frequently because the fact is most horses that suffer this typically are put down on the race track," said Richardson, the chief of surgery for the center. "This is rare."
It is rare because the common horse is not given such attention. Barbaro's racing career ended at Pimlico, but his financial returns were still un-realized. Barbaro is worth millions in stud fees, so even though he will no longer race, he will reap the rewards of that Derby victory for his owners and trainers for years to come. Meanwhile, the eighth-place finisher at Delaware Park is relegated to the glue factory. They are no less God's creatures, yet the one with the larger financial promise is given special treatment while the common equine is not.
It reminds me of how we humans treat each other. Like that head of state in the movie Fantastic Voyage, who gets rushed into emergency surgery, while Raquel Welch and her teammates are shrunken to microscopic size in order to laser-beam a blood clot from his brain. They wouldn't shrink anyone and put them in a submarine to save a "regular" person, just like they wouldn't operate on a horse for 6 hours unless there was some financial return waiting.
The next time you hear someone talk about equal treatment for everyone, think about Barbaro, or the guy from the movie and say a prayer for your life, because, if it isn't worth something to somebody financially, you don't stand a chance in Hell of getting special treatment.
The rich get richer, while the rest of us get put down on the track.


Pam said...

This is so a species we treat animals and each other very poorly for the most part. I hope Barbaro has a quick recovery and a very fun retirement tho!

Anthony said...

As of today, the vets are saying his chances are 50/50, and it will likely be quite some time before we know if he's out of the woods.

There's a photo in today's Inquirer of all the screws and plates they had to insert in his leg. It may be available on on either the Inquirer or Daily News links.

If he knew the 'fate' of his retirement, he might fight harder to stay alive!