Thursday, January 24, 2013

Animal Lover... or Not


Most of the IMAX film, Born to Be Wild, was entertaining; the scenes of poaching were not.

As I sat in the theater watching the movie in the spring of 2012, a 25 year old memory surfaced of watching another film that has a title I may never remember; a film also depicting scenes of poaching. The audience gasped and reacted angrily to the killing of elephants, then reacted happily at seeing the poachers captured. A friend who was with me said, as he shook his head with part sadness and part annoyance, “Those people are trying to feed their families.”
I understood his feelings, though I did not feel as he did; but neither did I feel like the angry audience. I was not an animal lover then, yet the killing of the animals was vicious.

Save the Whales and the Endangered Species Act did not resonate as my friend and I were growing up and during our early adult years. Instead, subconsciously, we subscribed to the Circle of Life and the Food Chain. But now, 25 years later, I am quite aware of my furry and feathered friends—of all animals, actually—and have been for some time. I love my little pooch (a Schnoodle named Layla) and I adore the horses on the farm where I take riding lessons. Beatrice the pig is a welcome companion as we trail ride; and there are hens in the coop, two dogs frolicking the grounds and a cat who sits on the hood of my car. All have added to my respect for animals.
“Respect?” some of you may ask.

Yes, they “are” included in my meals and provide entertainment at the circus and the zoo and the state fair; a contradiction, perhaps. Others, like hunters, shooters, dog fighters and cock fighters, engage in these activities for sport and/or money. Everyone justifies their treatment of animals. It’s another one of those subjects that people will never agree on. 
Recently, another shipment of elephant tusks were discovered in Malaysia, originating from Togo in West Africa, in route to China where ivory is considered currency. It is used to make valuable and “marketable” trinkets and jewelry, in addition to being used for medical purposes. Another justification for all involved.

As I listen and learn about the relationships between humans and animals in the various cultures all over the world, the treatments evoke different emotions.  My reactions to cows being sacred, puppy mills, much loved pets, dogs helping people with special needs, animals used for scientific purposes, dogs being eaten, animals shot for sport, animals tortured, animals raised for food, etc. make me feel happy, sad, or indifferent. I guess I’m not quite ready for my PETA membership, but I do feel sorry for the deer that are prey to everyone and that don’t have the status of the endangered tiger.
Fortunately, this is a topic that continues and that conservationists are out there trying to make good choices for our world. I still hear the sound of my friend’s voice, though, and I know many around the world share his opinion—that of “eat now, pay later.” What will be the cost?


kids at the farm leaving for a trail ride 
feeding goats at the State Fair


Shelly said...

The reason I am a teacher instead of a veterinarian is because after three years of pre-vet and working as a veterinary technician, I realized I just could not stomach the putting down of animals, especially the healthy ones. I do understand that we need them in the circle of life, but my heart is still very tender towards them.

Rebecca S. said...

I have no pets at this point, but I do think animals are part of the bigger picture of stewardship when it comes to caring for the planet, whether they are raised for food, for companionship, or to be left alone to keep the balance of nature in line.
On the other hand, seeing people pushing around pooches in strollers or carrying them in purses or front carriers seems to me to be taking things a bit too far sometimes. But what do I know?
Your Layla is very sweet, and keeping some relationship to farm animals is valuable in my experience :) Especially when the chicken provides us with a great dinner one weekend.

myletterstoemily said...

i always enjoy your viewpoints on interesting
subjects. when my daddy was raised on
the farm, they didn't have the luxury of
thinking of the animals as pets and he was
not allowed to name them. they fed them
to 'feed' them.

that is different than cruelty. nothing
deserves cruelty.

Jen said...

Hunting is necessary in the case of the deer. They overpopulate and die slowly of starvation or disease without it. Most hunters I know do eat the meat and try not to cause unnecessary suffering if that makes you feel any better.

Hunting of endangered animals does anger me.

Unknown said...

You must've been kicking it in my brain because this is a topic that I have been wrestling with. It started when I purchased a keyboard from a private party. The family were avid hunters and the keyboard sat under a deer head and a beautiful spread wing duck. I couldn't look at either animal. I was intimidated by the fact that a part of the deer was missing and that the morbidity of a deer on the wall wasn't right. Then, I come home and I eat beef or poultry and I'm torn from those images I saw and knowing that I'm eating an "animal".

Then I look at my two furbabies who are so very much like little humans. They communicate and are loyal to all that we say. They are selfless and willing to provide us with hours of antics.

Thanks for the awesome reminders of what animals are truly all about.

Unknown said...

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Rob-bear said...

I sit on a University committee which, each month, considers requests to do research using animals. Given our responsibility as trustees for said animals, the question is whether the use of these animals is warranted. The next question is whether the animals will receive good care if they are allowed into experiments. ("Allowed" is the proper term: research is a privilege, not a right.)

I am a trained ethicist, who knows just about nothing of science. The others are scientists. We have interesting discussions. Only once in a number of years in service on the committee, have I put my foot down and said, "No." Even then, we were able to reach a compromise with a bit more discussion.

Our brother and sisters of other species have feelings, and rights! I don't belong to PETA, as I do not agree with its approach, but I am very concerned about the ethical treatment of animals.

Barb said...

Oh sweet Layla! Though I'm an animal lover, I eat meat and take my Grandchildren to the Zoo to see caged animals. I realize that in some cultures animals we consider house pets are eaten. We are sometimes quick to judge other countries where standard of living and means of survival are foreign to us. This is not an easy topic or one that I see as black or white. However, I'm horrified when animals are tortured or hurt and left for dead. Animals must often pay for human greed and stupidity.

Linda Hensley said...

If we admit eating an animal is wrong, then we don't get to eat hamburgers. Most people don't want to give them up, so they'll find ways to justify what they do, the same as the poachers justifying themselves. We don't have to eat meat, but if we have animals for entertainment or food, it seems obvious to me that we owe them a good life and a clean death.

betty-NZ said...

This is a hard subject to comment on, being that most of us, me included, have mixed feelings about the 'reasons' and other emotional things that go with it. I like our cat, but she's just a cat.

Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Another example of how navigating living today, is not a simple task. And requires way more introspective pondering, than it would seem, "at first blush." IF people take the time to notice, that is.

Like so many things, I fear too many people just go-along-for-the-ride. Which ever "ride," looks the most glittery, at the moment.

Thinking/pondering are hard. Take time. Interfere with "fun time."

Thank you for being one of those, who bother to take the time... To think. To ponder.


Auntie sezzzzzz... said...

Re: Your comment in my blog... About at first, wishing you had my disposable time, for reading/blogging. But! Wisely realizing that to have my time, would be wishing your present life away. Wishing for time to pass quickly, so you could be at a later point, with more time-for-self.

Which showed you, not to wish your time/life away. To appreciate all of your present. To be fine with waiting till later, for more time-for-self.


Gentle hugs,

fsmum said...

What a great post and a thought provoking subject! I am in a conundrum when it comes to animals because I love them, especially cats and dogs. I even like cows but yet I still eat them! I also love circuses and ignore the animal activists protesting outside. I go to the zoo with my son.

On the other hand,I have 9 feral cats in the garden that I feed and look after. And I feed them with bits of other animals, beef,ham, turkey, chicken etc My neighbour helped me with the cost of getting them neutered and spayed. I do what I can where I can for both people and animals.

I do agree with Rebecca S though, on treating them as if they are human, pushing around in strollers etc. At the end of the day, they are not human and should be treated with respect as the beings that they actually are.

If animals are humanely killed, that's something, but wanton cruelty is the thing that breaks my heart. I somehow convince myself that they are looked after, fed and are well in the zoo and circus. I don't think zoos and circus can get away with cruelty nowadays. At least, I hope not.

I do believe that animals have feelings. I only have to look at the cats that I take care of.In my heart and soul, I don't believe that they totally work on automatic, as some people believe.

Kat said...

I am a huge animal lover, as is my husband who is a hunter. Many people don't understand how hunters can consider themselves animal lovers but true hunters have complete respect for nature and all the animals in it. I relate it to Native Americans. I think they had more respect for nature than any other culture but they were great hunters too.

We use every part of the animal that my husband gets. It is healthier (no hormones, chemicals, etc) and leaner than most meat you can find in the store.

Still, I'm glad my hubby is the hunter and not me. I would have a hard time shooting an animal.

Anyway, very interesting post! Thank you! And thank you for visiting my blog as well. It is nice to "meet" you. :)

And to answer your question, I definitely think you can make real connections through blogs. I have gained some GREAT friends since I started blogging. :)

Tabor said...

Many NGOs and other groups are trying to find other industries for those who endanger animals or the animals' habitat. They try to introduce a more profitable agriculture or tourism for the wealthy to pay for the protection of these areas. I do not like circus acts with animals and while I do think zoos are important for education, I cannot enter the gorilla house because I see the sadness in their eyes.

Abby said...

I think we're "evolving" and becoming less barbaric towards animals in general. I was in the dentist's waiting room and a woman walked in wearing a fur. It was pretty shocking to see (pretty sure it was a lynx). People still buy furs??
The fact that most of us get our meat when it's an impersonal slab at the grocery store removes us from seeing the living creature it once was. I grew up with friends who did 4H projects, raising beautiful animals for slaughter. I don't think I could do that!
Nice photos! That Layla!

Jenny said...

This was quite heart-wrenching...and caused a lot of soul searching on my end.

Cruelty saddens me for any reason against any living thing.

Destruction for the sake of tearing down makes me angry.

Wanton intent to destroy a whole species...


It boggles my mind how any human being could do these things.

You've given me a sobering look at a subject I really don't know much about.

Buckeroomama said...

Food for thought indeed. I am in agreement with Rebecca's point of view on this.

Unknown said...

I have missed your engaging posts Anita! This one touches me deeply. Hunting animals to extinction does not solve the problem of poverty or hunger. Education with support does.

My heart is breaking over the current wanton destruction of our wolf population in the western states. It's once again open season on them even after we have proved scientifically that their presence as a key species benefits the whole eco system. It's a hot issue in the west with much passion and emotion. I only hope that the wolves are not once again eradicated. We lose a piece of ourselves when we lose the natural world. A wish to share this natural world is one of the reasons that drives my passion for photography.

Thanks for a thought provoking post!
Julie Magers Soulen Photography

Judy Thomas said...

I became a vegetarian over 30 years ago when I had the thought "why would I eat a cow and not a dog?" I went from being able to discriminate between "meat" and "pet" to seeing them the same.

Hilary said...

I love animals as much as the next person (more than many though). We all draw our lines in different places, I suppose. I eat meat.. but not veal. I fish but would never consider hunting unless I was starving. That having been said, I have to agree with what Kat said about hunters. That's a relatively new mindset for me. I guess I'm not too old to learn. PETA.. I have zero respect for them. Their approach has crossed the line into vile in some instances. Fine post as always, Anita. Oh, and Layla is adorable. My next door neighbour has a schnoodle also.. and little black one named Raven.

Maria said...

I grew up on a farm in Iowa. My Da was probably the most respectful man towards animals that I've ever known. He saw their place in our food chain (we ate the chickens we raised and their eggs and our pigs were raised to be butchered. We also drank the cow's milk and ate one or two of those a year...)

We had a dog who lived in our barn and several barn cats as well. I didn't have a house pet until I was in my thirties.

I never once saw him kick or mistreat an animal and once when he was delivering a calf and it died, I witnessed him actually hug the calf's desolate mother.

I am in the medical profession and while I don't see patients die on a daily basis as I did in med school....I am trained in the art of not flinching when they do. But. I also remember those lessons my Da taught me to respect and treat all animals (even the human ones) with dignity.

Sharon said...

What a great post. I agree with you. I have different opinions depending on the circumstances. By the way, Layla is absolutely adorable!

Sharon said...

P.S. I moved! I'm blogging at

Haddock said...

Indiscriminate killing is something that should be totally banned.
I have seen pictures of people killing giraffes and posing with "the kill"

Stephanie said...

I am an animal lover and find your label here so apt! Hmmmm is right!

jiturajgor said...

This is a lovely post Anita,and topic is bit controversial.We animal lovers sometimes,in a way do things that is harmful to Animals and also to our planet.Read you comment on my last blog.Thanks for that.Liked your new profile Picture. Jitu

Jenny said...

I struggle with so many emotions regarding animals and small children.

Peoples attitudes toward these helpless members of our world makes me so angry.

I feel almost a rage inside me...and I try to make little differences but it is never enough, is it?

This was quite a moving post.

Thanks for sharing it.


betty-NZ said...

That's a lot to think about.