Day 6: Animal Rights, A Cause for Humanity
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At last! A no-brainer. Spiritual Badass hit a home run off my head! (1) What is my Favorite Cause? vs. (2) If I was in charge of things, what would the World look like? The answer to both of these lies in one answer.
Our country was built on citizens’ rights. We started with a Bill of Rights. We have progressed over two centuries to include voting rights, children’s rights, women’s rights, privacy rights, welfare assistance rights, employment rights, veterans rights, immigrant rights, and prisoners’ rights. Please feel free to add those you see missing. But you can’t yet add Animals’ Rights.
There are Animal anti-Cruelty laws supported in many areas of the country but they vary from state to state. There exists an Animal Legal Defense Fund that is an excellent resource for law students, lawyers, judges and animal rights advocates for information about the US and Canadian laws. There are many organizations, small and large, like the Humane Society of America, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and individual states’ versions, like Nevada SPCA, which I discovered last year does not receive funds from the national affiliate and depends on donations from Nevadans like me. I adopted my last three dogs from our NSPCA, and they do a fantastic job. There is the North Shore Animal League, that started in New York State and has worked nationwide achieving great things on behalf of our companion animals. These are just a sampling of some important animal advocates, many of whom are swamped with keeping animals off the street, out of the kill shelters, out of the hands of known torturers, filthy breeders, unethical experimental labs, and dog fighting aficionados. All with a guiding ambition to find good homes for those who deserve it.
Which dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets deserve a good home? They all do. I am a firm believer in ‘there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.’ I don’t even believe in the term “owners.” Were my parents owners of their children? When an individual or couple adopt a child, do they own that child? Why do we call a person like me, who adopts dogs and cats for life an owner? I am minimally a foster parent, a pet parent once I decide to commit to the adoption. And if my circumstances change, I owe it to that animal to place him or her in a safe place. I don’t tie him out in the back yard without food or water, or leave her in an abandoned apartment or house without means of escape. Nor do I drop them off in a well populated neighborhood where I happen to hear other dogs and cats at play, and speed off in my SUV.
They deserve safety, food and water, medical care, training, and most of all, love. There should be laws against those who adopt an animal for a birthday, holiday, or whim as a baby, then abandon that animal six or eight months later because it grew up without understanding what the rules were. Not becoming an adult animal is not one of the rules. If you don’t teach them your rules, they can never learn your rules. Is that how you would raise a child? Or do you expect public education to know and teach your rules? Or would you beat it into the child as you would a companion animal? If you don’t understand the art of teaching, ask for help.
I am getting older now, and can’t handle the larger animals any more. I have started adopting smaller senior animals, and I can do it with much more empathy than I had in my younger years. I had much less patience back then, and now I see a need I can fill as my years add up. Let the young people take the young pets, I will happily live with my seniors, who are ever so much more appreciative of my care. They don’t belong in those shelters, no matter how well they are treated. They deserve their own special place in the sun.
What would my world look like if I was in charge? There would be kindness, love, patience, understanding, sympathy, empathy, and more than anything, RESPONSIBILITY. Adopting an animal does not mean that the animal is a toy for your child, warmth in a cold bed, or a burglar alarm that you will throw bones to for food. You don’t just get rid of them if and when you get tired of them. We throw away garbage, not living beings. We crush inanimate objects, never Earth’s inhabitants. It has been documented that those who are cruel and inflict pain on animals are practicing for a future doing the same to humans. Fortunately, local justice systems recognize this, and have started getting tougher on those who attempt such heinous crimes.
Earth is a living planet. If we are not cognizant of the life on our planet, the time will come when it will not support life of any kind any more. If you have no respect for those who need our support, our help, our protection … if you continue to take no responsibility for those unable to feed, defend, support, and save themselves in the modern world, then it is time for those who are willing to take responsibility to turn our backs on you. Some societies have been known to shun those whom they scorned. Perhaps we will need to return to some lessons long forgotten to ensure our future. The training and education will be imparted to you, one way or the other.
That’s my vision of the future. A time when you earn your place in society based on your humanity, not your material worth and short attention span.