Can someone help me figure out the logic in why otherwise caring and intelligent people would buy purebred dogs from petshops or breeders when there are millions of homeless dogs languishing in shelters and waiting in rescue foster homes? And while you are at it can you also help me understand why people refuse to spay and neuter their companion animals?
I can understand why billions of people care about dogs and cats, but do not care about other beings when they are labeled as food. This is an agreed upon cultural violence norm that people can feel good about because it goes mostly unquestioned. But, dogs and cats and other companion animals? We LIVE with them. How can we not make the best choices for those we live with?
This photo is dogs waiting to be slaughtered for human consumption in Asia.
Many people find this difficult to see. (This is one of the easier photos to look at of this industry)
But, why is it not equally disturbing to see other species kept like this for eggs or other foods? Chickens, sheep, cows, pigs and other species feel pain, have relationships and can also connect with humans given the chance.
And why is it not equally disturbing to think of dogs and cats right here in North America being kept in cages for their entire lives so they can be breeding machines for a greedy industry?
I really do want to understand it. I am welcoming any feedback about this from my blog readers.
I have a two gap theory. There is one gap between what the reality of an industry is and what people know. There is a second gap between what people know and what they act on.
I don't know anyone who acts on what they know 100%. I sure don't. The gap between what we know and what we act on may be the one that is at the core of the purebred/overpopulation/breeder problem in the world.
I have been thinking about this issue more lately because I have been walking in a forest everyday here in Ann Arbor Michigan that is full of highly educated university people walking their dogs. There are lots of people walking rescue dogs, but there are also many people walking purebred dogs they got at breeders or pet stores and male dogs with intact balls and unspayed female dogs in heat.
So, here is what I want to know: Do people not know the horrors of the breeding facilites (even after Oprah highlighted it)? or Do people know about the suffering that goes on in these places but choose to ignore it?
I know that denial can run deep. I have been stubborn to act on some things that I know. (I act immediately on those things that are very little effort on my part. If something requires a major change in the way I do things, I can be a bit slower. But, adopting a companion animal from a shelter or rescue does NOT require a huge leap in daily lifestyle. It is one choice. A very easy choice. 9 out of 10 of these shelter animals is killed because of lack of homes. Many people choose to only support no-kill shelters, but these are just the feel good places. When those shelters are full, people are forced to take their animals to the shelters that euthanize or they dump them on the side of the road. All shelters will be no kill shelters when we stop supporting breeding of any kind. (I am talking about companion animal breeding here, we can talk about human breeding in another cheery blog).
I have a friend who is a graduate of Harvard Business school. He is not a stupid person. But all logic seems to escape him on the issue of spaying and neutering. He thinks that it is "unnatural" to spay and neuter. He thinks that we should just release all companion animals into the wild and let nature have her way with them. Hmmm, imagine the world with all companion animals released. If it were a movie, the title would be "War on Wildlife". Not to mention the billions who would simply starve or freeze. The current situation with companion animals is not "natural" and the solution is not going to be "natural". We created a situation that we need to take responsibility for.
There are times, like now, when I can feel no hope for the human race to wake up and take care of who and what is around us. Here I am, in my work, asking the humans to please consider that other species have feelings and deserve to live their lives fully. I am asking this of a species (humans) who are still unable to even accept that all people are deserving of this. We are still abusing children, other races, other cultures and ourselves. We knowingly make choices that destroy our own health and the planet. So, how do I expect a species who cannot even care for its own kind or its own home (earth) to see beyond the differences to embrace all other life? We assume we are the most intelligent species, when in fact, most other species are far beyond us in their ability to care for self and others. Take rats, for instance. They will always choose the healthiest foods when given a choice. They will pick fruits and veggies over junk "food" everytime. We have not even got those basics figured out.
OK, back to the dog and cat issue. I am asking people to be logical about this choice. Even if you are set on a particular "must have" breed, find a rescue group on line. Or, visit a local shelter where you will often find purebreds who, like their mutt shelter mates, are surrendered because the "intelligent" human who originally adopted them did not realize that this living being actually requires some attention.
Aside from all that, I am still hoping that someone can enlighten me on why this basic companion animal choice is so difficult for people. In terms of our awareness of other species and how our lifestyle choices affect them, the companion animal issues should be a no brainer. This is kindergarten in the school of animal welfare/rights. As I sit in this room at Adena's with four rescued dogs, I look around at their individual faces and the personalities that each one has. One of them was rescued from a facility that was about to sell him to a lab to be experimented on. He is looking at me right now. Those same eyes could have been pleading with a vivisector to please not do anymore painful experiments or to please give him something to ease the pain of the previous experiment. I do not want to put difficult images here on the blog. But for those willing to witness what we are doing to dogs in labs, go to this link: http://www.all-creatures.org/anex/dog-res-01.html
I have been working on these issues for so long. Sometimes I just want to quit it all and go be in a beautiful place and do nothing but notice the stars or the sunrise or the wind on my face. And then I remember all I have seen and heard and smelled in the world of these voiceless beings who live in hellish conditions everyday of their lives. I have no choice but to speak up for them when I can.....
This is not such a cheery blog posting. Life's not always so cheery.