Case study - farmer convicted of causing suffering to cow

In 2012, a Dorset farmer, Brian Pitman, was found guilty of failing to look after his herd of 90 cattle properly and causing unnecessary suffering to one animal. Eight animals died or had to be put down. Pitman was fined £515 and banned from keeping cattle for two years.

The court heard how he failed to feed his entire herd adequately and did not treat, or seek veterinary treatment for sick or injured animals. Pitman had faced 19 charges and pleaded guilty to two charges relating to animal identification for disease control.

He was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to one cow, which was found collapsed and underfed in a field by inspectors and had to be put down. The carcass of another cow was also found nearby. Five animals later died because they were so sick.

In his defence, Pitman said he struggled to care for them because he had been ill. He said only six or eight of his animals were unwell and that was down to a fluke infection, which he had treated. Pitman said after the sentencing, this will cause hardship to me.

For reflection and discussion

  • Explain what principles and beliefs might convince Buddhists that Mr Pitman's actions were wrong.
  • How do the Buddhist beliefs in karma and samsara affect their views on Mr Pitman's actions?
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