Friday, January 11, 2013

Animal abuse: Ignorance breeds cruelty

 Gandhi once said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated. If that is so, we are a terrible nation indeed!

More so because we are prosperous, educated, peaceful and not prone to natural disasters. So what is our excuse for such a shoddy record when it comes to animal welfare?
The general notion seems to be that one has to be 'evolved' to a certain degree to care about animal rights. To this I say that one does not need education or a highly developed intellect to have compassion towards animals.

In fact I have come across many highly-educated people who keep their domestic pets in inhumane conditions. They don't think it is cruel, an animal is seen as a life form beneath them to be treated as they like.

There are many stories of white collar professionals who have subjected their domestic pets to extreme cruelty. Several days ago an animal rescue group highlighted the plight of a Rottweiler who was hit everyday by it's owner a doctor who frequently returned home in a drunken stupor. The poor dog is perpetually chained to the gate with a very short leash.

In another case, a couple who are not too keen on dogs, bought a Shih Tzu for their children because the kids insisted. But the dog is kept in a cage outside the house all the time. It is only taken out when the children want to play with it.

This dog has never been taken for a walk ever. If it is not in the cage, it would be chained to the gate. That is the sum of the 'happy' life of that little dog.

Then there are the stories of people who keep their dogs chained from the time it is a puppy until adulthood. Many dogs die that way, constantly being exposed to the sun, rain and harsh weather conditions.

The point is there are some very, very, cruel people out there, and for every cruel person there are ten ignorant ones.

Cruelty and sadism is one thing, people who are cruel to animals are likely to display similar traits in other aspects of their lives as well. In short they have mental and psychological issues that needs to be dealt with. However this post is not about mental health.

One of the prime causes of animal abuse and neglect is not cruelty but ignorance. And as I have discovered it has got nothing to do without how well educated a person is.

Recently when the local councils went on a dog catching rampage, a single mother who had five mouths to feed ( her kids), paid a hefty fine to rescue a stray dog she had been feeding. When the dog was caught for the second time and the council again demanded that she pay the fine, the poor woman was in tears and appealed to some animal rescue groups to help her out. She needn't have bothered, but such was her compassion that she did.

Ignorant animal lovers

Rarely will you meet someone who says they don't like animals. There are many who claim to be animal lovers. If there are indeed so many animal lovers out there, why are there so many cases of animal abuse?

The problem is that the 'love' of these animal lovers is confined to hugging and petting cute looking domestic animals. The problem of rampant animal abuse does not keep them awake at night, in fact many of these people know next to nothing about animals.

Many times have I heard a story that goes along these lines......." I once had a dog that I loved very much, then one day the dog bit and scratched me/ a family member/ friend/stranger. So we called the SPCA to take the dog away and put it to sleep. I was very sad but had no choice because my pet turned violent."

There are no bad dogs, only bad owners. No pet dog suddenly turns violent for no reason. A responsible owner would have tackled the problem differently instead of yelping for the SPCA to step in. Many children have turned on their parents, teenagers, do we put them to sleep? So how then does an animal who is a part of one's family suddenly become so disposable??

Spay and neuter are not French words

Pic courtesy of
I am amazed at how many animal lovers there are out there who let their dogs and cats pro-create year after year. Where do the puppies and kittens end up? They might keep one or two, some will be given to friends and relatives, the rest will be put in a box and sent out into the world to fend for themselves. Thanks to these ignorant people, we have strays - and we all know the plight of strays.

Yes ignorant animal lovers are the fathers and mothers of all the stray dogs and cats in this country. Maybe we should ask the local councils to put them down instead, for having the misguided notion that it is a sin not to let their dogs and cats mate, but that it's okay if the off-springs end up orphans wandering the streets.

Ignorance is the sister of cruelty

Some really nice people, for instance those who are kind, god fearing, likely to donate generously to charities, frequently embark on pilgrimages, have been know to display a shocking amount of ignorance with regards to animals that can be seen as cruel.

How can one who proclaims to be so god-fearing keep their dog tied 24/7? Oh but there are people like this. When asked they will say it is to stop the dog from running out of the gate, so the poor dog doesn't get to run or exercise their leg muscles period.

As much as some of these people will shed beatific tears before the altar of God, they will not be inclined to show any form of affection towards their dogs for instance - as the only reason they got a dog in the first place was to guard their home and property. As far as they are concerned, food and water is good enough. It doesn't seem to penetrate their holy heads that animals have feelings too!

Don't blame a stray for being a stray

What do you do when a hungry dog or a cat comes up to you? Some people have a phobia with regards to animals. That is understandable. But to those who don't, remember this, strays be they dogs or cats, usually don't disturb people. In fact they are likely to run away when approached. But when they do come up to you, it is likely that they are starving and in need of food.

Sadly most of these starving animals are turned away. Some are even abused and sustain terrible injuries. Some of the people who do these things are very god-fearing mind you. As far as they are concerned strays are a menace, to be exterminated like cockroaches.

Many of these people see no wrong in doing such, but they will think there is something wrong with you if you feed these animals, or go to the aid of an animal in distress.

They will brand you an 'Animal Lover' first, and if you proceed to explain why it is necessary to give the animal aid, they will label you an 'Animal Activist'. From then on they will crack nasty jokes about how you need to get a life, or highlight the fact that there are starving children, poor people and why are you bothering with animals when there are many humans who need help too.

Well as my mum once told me, someone has to care. If they are so concerned about starving children, let them dispense aid to the humans, while those of us who are blessed enough to be able to empathise with animals will dedicate ourselves to helping these voiceless once.

It takes a certain level of enlightenment to reach out, care for, and fight against the odds to create a better world for animals, the ones bestowed with this unique ability are called - Animal activist, vilified by the ignorant masses but a force to be reckoned with nevertheless.