WELFARE – We can each do our bit!
Animals and Man
by Christopher D
Animal welfare is a much-debated topic. No end is in sight for some of the awful welfare penalties that animals suffer, as a result of man’s interference. Is there anything, however, that we can do, ourselves, to improve the situation?
There is the general environment and ecological problem, affecting a great many species and soon to affect man himself, more seriously than he’d like to believe. There is competition with man, for much-needed space and food, especially in the Amazon, Africa, South East Asia and India. These are general problems, that must be addressed, especially in terms of how the developed world treats the undeveloped world. You individually, as a customer of the banks, the financial institutions, the multi-national companies and the supermarket chains, can exert an influence for good.
The issue about which we can each certainly do something, on a much more personal and ‘local' level, is that of respect for animals. Respect, at a deep and meaningful level, removes the issue of whether animals have ‘rights’. It puts the issue of ‘do we have the right to do what we do?’ more firmly in the limelight. We would no longer need to legislate or to ask whether something is legal, if we were to be guided in our actions by true respect.
With the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, we saw the terrible holocaust and animal suffering, being enacted in the name of commerce. Animals were dispatched in front of their offspring. Animals were badly shot, owing to the sheer size of the task, and surviving in a pile of corpses overnight. Animals died of exposure, because farmers were not allowed to move them. Sheep drowned in flooded fields, for the same reasons. Do we have the right to do this, purely to preserve a questionably desirable export trade, when vaccination or homeopathy could stop the spread of the virus in days?
Do we have the right to experiment on animals, whether we see this as potentially beneficial to our race or not? There is good evidence that it is not, in fact, beneficial or that it may even be harmful to medical progress. Do we have the right to experiment on individual animals for what we see as the greater benefit of animals in general? This question applies to much veterinary research and zoological research.
There is vivisection on a massive scale, for teaching purposes, which could cease tomorrow, with no loss to humanity. What does such work do to our youngsters? Schools and universities that use vivisection set an example to our youth, that is desensitising and callous. This is potentially even more dangerous when it is medical or veterinary students who are being desensitised in this way. Students, schoolchildren and parents can bring powerful influence to bear.
Animals suffer in laboratories, testing household reagents and toiletries. Should this be allowed, simply to support a trade in vanity?
Pet food manufacturers experiment on animals. This is not for animal benefit but for shareholder profit. Most pet food brands sold today are owned by ‘big names'. Few seem to realise that this very profitable trade often involves grisly animal experiments.
Pet shops and animal traders can fuel the trade in exotic animals, in which an untold number of animals suffer and perish. No one needs to buy an imported animal (whether mammal, reptile, amphibian, arthropod, fish or bird or snake) which act funds such suffering.
Should we keep animals in zoos for our amusement, or make them perform in circuses? Are the conservation arguments put forward by zoos valid?
Can we, with a clear conscience, exploit animals (as on some bad farms) and slaughter them badly, in the name of food? Can we transport them across continents, for slaughter, in the way that we do, without demeaning ourselves?
Can we keep horses for pleasure, without ensuring the very best of conditions and saddling, which is far from the case in many current riding establishments? Many accepted methodologies in horse management need review.
Can we keep or trap animals for their skins and fur, when we have no need for such things, except for vanity? Humane trapping is not possible.
Many popular and prominent medical charities actively support animal suffering, without being compelled to declare it in their literature or on collecting tins. Those well-meaning folk, who collect for them in the street, might drop the tin as if it had burnt them, if only they knew the truth. If you care about animal welfare, be sure to ask if the charity supports animal experiments, before contributing. Insist on definite information, not a guess (very often, the street collector is totally unaware). Do this also with investments, whether insurance policies, shares or pensions. It is even worth checking on how some prominent animal welfare charities spend their money, rather than blindly giving. Does the money go to inflated executive salaries or does it go to good work? Avoid buying toiletries, cosmetics or household reagents, from those companies that test on animals. Even pet food manufacturers have animal testing programs. It is anyway more healthy for all, if you feed fresh food.
Many planning decisions can be detrimental to animal welfare or even to species survival. Take an active interest in local politics and examine the business of local authorities as if it were your own. In reality, it is!
Each and every one of us, each day, can do our bit to help animals, by considering what we do in our daily lives and how we spend our hard-earned money. We do not need to demonstrate, stand in cold streets, sign petitions, hold meetings or write letters. Yes, all of these things are enormously valuable and we owe so much to those who give up their time and money in this way, but much can be done by a simple adjustment in our thinking and living. When we buy animal products for our food, we can ascertain, in detail, the welfare aspects of their production. We can refuse to give money to any charity which supports directly or indirectly, animal experimentation. We can identify those companies selling pet food, that practice animal experimentation of vivisection and shun their products. Clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, toiletries, household products, cars, domestic goods, furniture, furnishings may each have an impact on animal welfare, which can be ascertained. We can properly research companies and institutions in which we might wish to invest.
Make this the start of a new way of living, in order to respect our world’s creatures and to give them space. Walk more gently on the world.