When I began writing about animal welfare issues, I naively thought that what was missing in the community was a lack of focused leadership, and that if only more people knew the truth about the plight of many animals around the world, we could join together and make positive changes.
Oh, what a fool I was.
What do I know today? That the pet industry is one of the fastest growing in many places around the world. Animals appear in more commercials than they don’t. Looking at cute animal pictures on the Internet is one of the biggest time thieves in modern-day life.
While at the same time, human commitment to animal welfare has declined in the past eight years.
Humans are responsible for the almost-certain extinction of elephants, rhinos, and tigers.
We turn a blind eye to the abuses of the animal agriculture industry because we don’t want to pay more to eat meat.
We don’t want animals used for product testing, yet we still buy products that ARE tested on animals.
And, despite great strides made, we still have an excess number of homeless companion animals in practically every place around the world.
What I have learned is that there are a great many people in the world who love animals, but only to the extent that the animals make the human feel better.
They ooh! and aah! at Tony the Tiger in Slidell, Louisiana, while blindly looking past the fact that tiger has been kept alone in a small cage to entertain and make money, with no regard to his needs.
They pay to pet tiger cubs without once asking if it’s good for the cub to be kept away from its mother for so long, or what will happen to it once it’s too old to be used to make money for the human exploiters.
They eat bacon from pigs born to sows kept in cages so small they can’t turn around. Hey, who cares about the pig when you have bacon!
And, what disturbs me more than all the rest, is how we have turned the care of companion animals into a class warfare issue. My dog is better than your dog because he eats raw, or X brand food that costs more per bag than what you feed your dog all year. Or my dog is better than your dog because mine stays inside, or goes to the park every day, or gets his nails clipped by a groomer, or………. the list grows longer every day.
Not so hard to see how class differentiation of pet ownership soon means that more mixed breeds die so that designer dogs can live.
I don’t know what the solution is. I honestly doubt there is a solution…. at least, not as long as humans are the ones whose wants trump the needs of every other species.