Friday, January 29, 2010

Animal Cruelty

**Disclaimer: All opinions expressed below are my own personal feelings based on the information that has been available in the media.**

Yesterday, I had to buy a copy of the Herald only to be confronted by the dog massacre in Northland. As an animal lover I was upset and appalled by the situation. Mark told me not to read it, as he knows how much animal cruelty distresses me. However, over the last day and a half I have read, listened, cried and thought about how I feel about the situation.

I feel strongly about animal rescue. I have been involved in animal rescue for a number of years, and one of my closest friends has been rescuing, desexing and re-homing animals for over 20 years. Her concern is always for the animals as people, while they have a huge capacity for compassion; also have a HUGE capacity for cruelty.

In life, there are always two sides to every story.

First and foremost, I feel sympathy for the owner of the Fox Terrier; no dog deserves to be mauled. Nevertheless, I find the shooting of these dogs abhorrent. I feel that it could have been handled differently, and more humanely. I believe that ALL living beings whether human or animal deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; shooting dogs in cages, or while they cower from you in terror is disgusting, disgraceful and inhuman. So yes, the people that did this should be held accountable.

Secondly, I feel immense sadness for the owner of the dogs, as there is no way I would have watched anyone hurt or kill our animals. However, my question is how did it get to this point? There should have never been over 30 dogs on a single property. Nevertheless, on the basis of photographs and video footage, it appears that these animals were in good health and not neglected (which is great). They were obviously loved. However, why were these dogs not desexed to prevent more litters from being born?

So ‘apparently’ no one complained about these dogs, however how does one person adequately care for 40 dogs? I just do not think a single person can without other areas of their life slipping. Let’s not even talk about the cost of feeding, vet care and regular flea and worm treatments.

For me, it brings to mind cat hoarders; people that believe they are doing the right thing by “hoarding cats” and suddenly it gets completely out of control. These people think that they are doing the right thing, and in all fairness they are not. They are suffering, the animals are suffering and it is a lose-lose situation.

I believe that cats and dogs should be desexed; there is no reason to breed them. Also considering the number of healthy animals that are euthanized in New Zealand annually, why on earth would people let their animals breed?

So, people need to be re-educated about old wives tales i.e. my cat should have one litter before she is desexed, or "I want my children to experience our family cat having kittens".

So my message from this is:
- Treat people and animals with respect. Also remember they are not human so do not impose your own "belief" structure on your animals; they are not Buddhist or Christian or Catholic or Vegan.
- Owning an animal is a commitment that could last anywhere between 1-20 years. Something to think about before buying a cute puppy or kitten
- Desex your animals so they have a better quality of life and do not let them be babies having babies (cats can get pregnant from 4 months) . Desexing applies to both females and males; do the math!
- Breeding domestic cats and dogs is NOT a good source of income; just check out the amount of free cats and kittens people are trying to re-home on Trade Me.
- Do not just do ‘nothing’. If you see animal cruelty, do not turn a blind eye. If you think that a friend or a neighbour is struggling with the amount of cats and/or dogs they have then there are organisations out there that help with desexing.