Friday, July 18, 2008

My animal rights news comes via peta and Farm Sanctuary for the most part. I also get updates from Project R & R that is focused on ending the use of chimpanzees for medical research. This week Wandering Coyote has brought my attention to the cruel act to a pitbull in Trail. You can follow the link here and read the story and WC's comments on it.

All I have to say (and as I've said in the comments on WC's blog) is that I am sickened by this and am appalled knowing that so far someone has gotten away with this crime.

What can we do to teach others to be compassionate to all living creatures? How can kids learn to treat animals with respect? Everywhere in our culture animals are portrayed as being there to serve us (as food) and entertain us. This is where I see problems:

  • Puppies and kittens as gifts for kids like any other gift under the tree, presented with a bow. You should not be able to "buy" animals from pet stores. This suggests that animals are merely another product consumed.
  • The high price of a pure-bred animal. What chance does an animal in a shelter have if people are encouraged to buy designer animals? Breeding also suggests that there are some animals that are better than others. This just isn't so.
  • Petting zoos. I've heard too many horror stories about the actual living conditions of these animals that are expected to be there for our entertainment. Do kids learn anything here? No. It's merely entertainment.
  • The circus. Do I even need to say what's wrong with animals being trained for the circus ring? How do the animals learn such tricks? Well, the preferred method of training is using whips and electric prods to force the animals to perform.
  • Chimps in film and t.v. It's not funny. It's not even close to funny when you think of the abuse a chimp goes through to be trained to do such tricks. Then once they get too old and are no longer "cute" they can end up living the rest of their lives in a cage (that can be another 40 years or so), in a roadside zoos or in a lab.
  • And yes I do have a problem with the blind acceptance that we are to grow up eating meat as if this is normal.
I was a teenager before I learned about battery cages that hens are kept in and I haven't eaten chicken since. I remember feeling naive and I was also angry that such things were going on and no one had told me (no parent, no teacher, no t.v. show). It was extremely difficult for me to find any information on how animals were being raised for our consumption (this was very pre-internet and I lived in rural New Brunswick).

I know I've digressed a little, but I guess where I'm going with this is me trying to figure out what i can do. When I discovered about the lives of animals in the meat industry becoming veg was a form of activism for me. What can I do when I hear a story like the one about the pitbull? I can be angry and upset, but what bothers me the most is that I feel helpless in preventing such acts.


Wandering Coyote said...

The pit bull episode in Trail really made me feel helpless and hopeless about humanity in general. Same with the bear cub incident last fall. I don't understand the motivation behind such acts. If you don't like something, you don't set out to destroy it, you set out to change the larger picture. On the other hand, if you claim to like something, like wildlife, why would you set out to destroy it? This is what I don't understand.

Vegan Run Amok said...

I hear you on the helplessness. I do kind of fear that people are either born with the compassion gene or not and that there are limits to what can be achieved through humane education, even programs aimed at very young children. On the other hand, progress is being made here and there even if it's painfully slow. My state's felony animal cruelty law isn't perfect (farm animals are exempt, for example) but two decades ago it would have been unthinkable even in its current, weak form. I don't know. I think you have to just keep chipping away.