The Bond: Our Kinship With Animals & Our Call to Defend Them

15 Dec

Book No. 51- “The Bond, Our Kinship with Animals and Our Call to Defend Them” is an eye opening book that was written by Wayne Pacelle, the CEO of The Humane Society of The United States. This book was recommended to me by my friend who is taking an Environmental Ethics class at Tulane University. The Bond explores human nature and our relationship to not only domesticated animals, but also animals in the wild. Wayne Pacelle sheds light on all the atrocious ways animals have been and still are being treated, what he has done to help and we can do to make a difference in our every day lives.

One thing that has always irritated me about people is their constant denial of animal intelligence and their emotional capacity. Many people deny all animals capability to feel in the same way humans do, therefore justifying their cruel acts towards them. As humans, we have a moral responsibility to defend those who can not defend themselves, whether that means coming to the aid of other human beings or animals.

Charles Darwin stated that animals actually have very complex emotional lives and can experience: anxiety, grief, dejection, despair, joy, love, tender feelings, devotion, ill-temper, sulkiness, determination, hatred, anger, disdain, contempt, disgust, guilt, pride, helplessness, patience, surprise, astonishment, fear, horror, shame, shyness, and modesty. He also stated that humans and animals share similar facial expressions and body language. For example, he observed how monkeys laugh and dance when they are happy and how dogs stand taller when they are angry just like people do. He also claimed that without fear, a gazelle wouldn’t know when to run and without aggression a dog wouldn’t feel an urgency to defend his territory or defend someone he has loyalty to. Now, anybody who has ever worked with animals or lived with animals would already know all of this, because we have first hand experiences of all these things. Yet, there are still so many people out in the world who continue to deny the simple fact that animals have FEELINGS just as we do. By denying this simple truth, people are able to continue justifying their cruel and inhumane actions.

In this book Wayne Pacelle sheds light on the atrocities of many animals I had no idea even had a plight. For instance, parrots. Parrots aren’t an animal that many of us concern ourselves with, perhaps because a parrot is a bird and not many of us care for birds like we do for other animals. Parrots, however, are very mistreated in this day and age. They are often kept in tiny cages and are sold into families who have no idea how to take care of them. Parrots are very intelligent animals and need stimulation and need space to fly. The sad truth is that many parrots live in homes where they feel so isolated and neglected that they begin to inflict self harm by pulling out their own feathers.

Seals are another animal that not many people tend to concern themselves with and yet in Canada there is a massive seal slaughter every single year. These poachers wait on the shores of Prince Edward Island for these baby seals to come a shore and begin to club them to death for their fur. Unfortunately, in the seals struggle to avoid being clubbed, many aren’t killed instantly, which means they suffer a great deal before they die and some are even skinned alive. Below is a short video on the Canadian seal slaughter. Warning: pictures are graphic.

 

Among other issues discussed in this book are the issues of animal testing, dog fighting, puppy mills, and factory farms. Dog fighting didn’t really become a nation wide recognized issue until the Michael Vick scandal erupted back in 2007. Michael Vick, a well known and very famous football player was charged and pleaded guilty to dog fighting, receiving a two year sentence in prison along with two months house arrest and three years of probation to follow his release. Michael Vick a long with his friends, were responsible for torturing, killing, and training dogs to fight on his very own property. Why? Not because he needed the money, but because it was simply his idea of fun. Investigators exhumed many of the dead dogs bodies from Vick’s property and found that many of them died by hanging, drowning and at least one died by slamming it’s body to the ground. How do people take part in these cruel and heinous acts on innocent animals? I do not know. Regardless, the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal brought an awareness to an issue that wasn’t previously taken as seriously or listed as a priority.

Unfortunately, because of dog fighting the pit bull breed has acquired an unfair and inaccurate stereotype that they are an “aggressive breed.” People who stand by this generalization of pit bulls are obviously uneducated on the matter and ignorant of this breeds plight. Many people do not realize that the amount of annual dog attacks occur not JUST with put bulls, but often with german shepherds, ciao ciao’s, St. Bernards (which is probably why Steven King wrote Cujo as a St. Bernard dog and not a pit bull) and Great Dane’s. Yet, even with all of these dogs annually attacking humans, we only concern ourselves with the attacks caused by pit bulls. This is largely due to the amount of media publicity the pit bull breed gets. It is very rare that we hear about a labrador retriever attacking someone even though just a little less than a year ago a 3 year old boy was attacked by a labrador retriever and was left with horrific facial injuries. The fact of the matter is that their is NO AGGRESSIVE BREED. Animals are not born aggressive, they are made that way by their owners and their experiences. An animal that is chained up 24/7, rarely given any attention, and not socialized at a young age is going to be aggressive regardless of the breed type. The problem doesn’t lie in the dogs or their breed, but rather in the people who own them.

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Puppy mills are another heartbreaking issue that is becoming more and more common in The United States. A puppy mill’s sole purpose is to make money. The people who run puppy mills have no regard for the care of the animals they are selling, often forcing them to live in tiny crates, in the dark, in their own feces. The mother, is forced to birth litter after litter until she is so used up that she literally can not do her duty any longer. At that point, the owners discard her or sell her for the highest price. Many animals that come from puppy mills develop diseases and die at a very young age and sadly many of them don’t even see sunlight until they are sold to a new owner. The solution to this problem is easy. Adopt from a shelter or adopt from a pet store that works with a shelter, such as PetCo and Pet Smart. If we stop funding these puppy mills by buying from them, eventually they will cease to exist.

This is a video by The Humane Society on an under cover investigation about puppy mills.

Factory farming is a pretty well known issue in todays society. The animals held in factory farms are living in horrendous conditions and treated despicably. Chickens often get the worst of it. They are kept in tiny cramped cages, living in their own feces, never seeing sunlight, and they are fed growth hormones so that they will grow at unnaturally fast paces. These growth hormones cause the chickens to grow so fast that their body can no longer support their weight and many of them die because of this. Pigs, cows and turkeys also get harsh and cruel treatment as well. Turkeys are treated much like chickens and live sedentary lives in ammonia laden- excrement. Their growth rate is extremely exaggerated, even more so than chickens. Wild turkeys now weigh three times more in factory farms than they would in the wild at just four months of age. According to researchers at the University of Arkansas, “if you grew as fast as a chicken, you would weigh 349 pounds at age 2.” That should give you an example of how ill treated these turkeys and chickens are and just how inhumane and unhealthy the agribusiness runs their factory farms.

Every type of animal in the world has their own plight and it is our job, as humans, to continue to stand up for them. It is not only domesticated animals that need our help. Animals in the wild need our protection as well. Some of these animals are: whales, dolphins, seals, wolves, turtles, polar bears, black bears and foxes. The first step in cultivating change is spreading awareness and educating those who are ignorant of these important issues. Changes must be made for the sake of these animals and for the sake of humanity itself. People often say they want to live in a better world and yet do absolutely nothing to change it. You want to live in a better world then BE BETTER. Change starts with you.

 

6 ways to help animals:

1) the 3R’s of eating: reduce your consumption of meat and other animal based foods, refine your diet by avoiding animal products that are derived from factory farming, and replace meat with vegetarian foods.

2) purchase cruelty free cosmetics and household products.

3) avoid wearing and purchasing fur.

4) adopt a friend for life at your local animal shelter, foster an animal or work as a volunteer.

5) micro chip your pet and place I.D. tags on your animals as well as getting your animals nurtured and spayed.

6) Help spread the word about animal protection efforts on social media and other online networks.

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