A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Capturing the Cruelty of Factory Farms
A letter from Dulce Ramírez, Vice President of Animal Equality for Latin America and Executive Director for Animal Equality Mexico:
It all started with the click of a shutter.
As the newborn calf’s weakened, shivering body lay on the concrete floor, I could hear the anxious cry escaping his body.
Yearning desperately for his mother, who had already been tied up and milked by the workers, he had been discarded because he was unable to produce milk.
After fourteen hours inside the facility in Jalisco, Mexico, I had been waiting for this moment. While every fiber of my being wanted to reach out and offer a gentle touch – to let him know I was a kind face – I knew the mission must come first.
So I held my camera before my eyes, and I snapped this photograph. At the time, I did not yet comprehend just how powerful this image would be.
This nameless calf was later dumped into a corral with the carcasses of other newborn cows, where he awaited a trip to the slaughterhouse. Whether he was left in this corral for days or killed immediately would never be known.
But one thing is certain, this photograph has changed hearts and minds across the world.
As I held back my tears and snapped that photograph, I made him a promise. I vowed to show the world exactly what mother cows and their babies experience each day in the dairy industry.
Since then, the photograph has circulated the globe. Thousands of people vowed to stop supporting this industry, and others have begun to support our investigative work instead. The impact is multiplying, and the world is waking up the cruelty happening behind closed doors.
The image of this calf is burned into my memory. That day, something deep inside me broke into pieces, and I try every day to put them back together.
But I pick myself up and repair myself – little by little – because I’ve now seen the power of one image.
This investigation wouldn’t have been possible without the true heroes of this movement: our monthly supporters. Investigations like these are costly and often take months to complete. Each and every one of them was funded solely by people like you.
The movement is growing. The impact is compounding. Each day, the thin facade of the factory farming industry is pulled back, inch by inch.
But we have to keep the momentum building.
Right now – as you read this – consumers are browsing the shelves at Kroger, Walmart, or Costco, completely unaware of the suffering that went into the milk and cheese lining the shelves.
The situation is dire, but I know one thing about you already: you’re reading this because you care deeply, and you know that we can do better.
The image of this baby calf might leave you feeling outraged. Your heart might feel heavy in your chest, or you might be reflecting on a time when you lost a loved one – just as the mother cow in this photo did.
If that describes you, you’re already halfway to becoming the ultimate animal defender. Now is your chance to take the final step.
A cow’s maternal instincts foster a gentle bond with her vulnerable calf.
Preserve this tender relationship by choosing plant‑based alternatives to dairy products.
By becoming a monthly donor, you’ll allow these investigations to continue. You’ll fund the equipment and travel expenses needed to expose cruelty, and you’ll show our investigators that you value the blood, sweat, and tears they pour into their work.
Most of all, you’ll transform the anger, sadness, and frustration you feel toward the dairy industry into relief, hope, and optimism for what we can accomplish together. When you see photographs like these, you’ll be reminded of the role you’ve played in ending their suffering.
Will you keep us in the field?
Consider becoming a monthly donor to Animal Equality and help create a world where animals are treated with kindness and compassion. Your support can help us continue proposing and campaigning for changes in the law and exposing cruel practices in factory farms, ultimately making a positive difference in the lives of all animals.