Conversations at work sometimes bring out the best in people, but also can illustrate the philosophical differences you have with the colleagues you work with everyday. When the conversation involves your love for animals the reactions can be mixed.
Recently, a conversation took place that this columnist is all too familiar with. A company was pushing everyone to sign up for an annual charity drive in which you could give to an umbrella organization, but specify a particular organization to receive your donated funds. In looking through the list no animal organizations could be found, or at least didn’t stand out, so there was reluctance to give since some individuals prefer to exclusively donate to animal welfare causes while others prefer human based causes or a combination thereof.
The point about no animal charities appearing on the list was met somewhat with disdain and comments were made about humans needing help too. That quickly magnified to the statement I like animals too, but the point was made certainly you wouldn’t put an animal in need to receive charitable dollars or help ahead of a child in need to receive those same dollars. What this boils down to is the position some people take that forces you to choose between animals and humans when providing for their needs. It often becomes a perception of animals versus children, but that forced attitude to choose one over the other is simply wrong.
There is room in this world to provide for all those sentient beings who need our help. It should not stir up a debate if your free will directs your dollars to one type of charity instead of the other. Everyone has their own thing when it comes to spending their charitable dollars and how you choose to spend those dollars should not be ostracized because someone else finds one species more important than another. It’s simply a matter of choice; your choice.
In a recent column in the Orlando Sentinel, famed evangelist Billy Graham wrote that “. . . yes, the Bible commands us to take care of the animals under our care. One of the signs of a righteous man, the Bible says, is that he takes care of his animals (see Proverbs 12:10).” For many of us animals are a vital core of our conscious existence and have thrust their care and well-being to the people they share this earth with. Share, not subservient to.
When the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) started to develop its disaster program for animals following Hurricane Andrew the approach adopted was to treat all those impacted by the disaster, whether two or four-legged, equally as victims. Disasters are about victims needing help – – not about one species of victim being more important than another. At least that is how an enlightened society thinks.
If you choose to give assistance to an animal organization that needs your help instead of the United Way, American Red Cross or other organization designated to provide for human relief or subsistence needs there is nothing wrong with that preference. It doesn’t make you anti-human anymore than giving to a human based relief organization instead of an animal one makes you anti-animal. If your preference is to give to both then more power to you as long as you make this a personal decision instead of letting your company pressure you to do so.
Let your charitable giving take you down a path that inspires you. Take Zach Wilson for instance. After visiting a local pet rescue when he was 9 years old, he was shocked by the sight of so many pets that had been surrendered due to economic hardship. The next morning following that visit, “Zach announced, ‘We need to feed the dogs.'”
With a lot of hard work and the generosity of the community, the Central Florida Animal Pantry was founded. Said mom Erica Wilson, “What we are finding is that people are still not finding new jobs, many times people pull up (to the pet food pantry) in trucks. They have gotten rid of their house, their clothes, their jewelry and all they have is their dog.”
Zach’s valiant “. . . efforts already have been recognized by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, whose holistic pet food company – Halo – recently donated 5,000 meals of its Spot’s Stew.”
Some people like animals and will treat them well, but they are not the ultimate focal point in their lives like their two-legged children are. However, for many of us, our animals are our best friends and form an undeniable bond that is as strong if not stronger than any bond we form with the two-legged world. Some of you cannot understand that, but for true animal people that is a given and natural way we observe our lives.
We look at our animals and can feel their heart and the undying love we share for each other. You can feel some of this bond in the words Stan Rawlinson, the Doglistener, penned. Listen to them in his piece The 10 Commandments From a Pet’s Point of View.
- My life is likely to last 10-15 years, any separation from you will be painful for me. Remember that before you buy me.
- Give me time to understand what you want from me, don’t be impatient, short-tempered, or irritable.
- Place your trust in me and I will always trust you back. Respect is earned not given as an inalienable right.
- Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment, I am not capable of understanding why? I only know I have been rejected, you have your work entertainment and friends I only have you.
- Talk to me sometimes, even if I don’t understand your words I understand your voice and your tone, “you only have to look at my tail”.
- Be aware that however you treat me I’ll never forget it, and if it’s cruel it may affect me forever.
- Please don’t hit me I can’t hit back, but I can bite and scratch and I really don’t ever want to do that.
- Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right foods or I’ve been out in the sun too long, or my heart is getting old and weak, I may be just dog tired.
- Take care of me when I get old. You too will grow old and may also need love, care, comfort, and attention.
- Go with me on difficult journeys, never say, “I can’t bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence”. Everything is easier for me if you are there. Remember, irrespective of what you do I will always love you.
© Stan Rawlinson 1993
Poignant words indeed. Remember, it is not a competition between humans and animals just a recognition that we each value the sentient beings in our lives with a different focus and importance. However it should not be a criticism of how you choose to spend your charitable dollars, but instead a thanks from everyone you choose to help. There’s plenty of need to go around whether you’re responding to animal, human causes or both.
To update an earlier column on fox and coyote penning, there is good news to report. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has approved a final rule “. . . permanently prohibiting the chasing of foxes and coyotes with dogs within an enclosure in Florida.”
Said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for the Humane Society of the United States, “We thank Chairman Rodney Barreto and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioners for their decisive leadership and thorough work to end the inherently cruel practice of fox penning that has no place in the 21st century.”
While the action by the Commission brings a resolution to this issue, the emphasis placed by them on preserving hunting is still disturbing. Said Chairman Barreto, “This is not about taking away hunting opportunities. I’m a big believer in fair chase, and I have a list of places where hunters can still engage in those activities.”
Added Commissioner Brian Yablonski, “This is not a referendum on hunting – we are a pro-hunting commission. It is a question of fair chase and protecting the essence of hunting.”
Let’s applaud the end to this barbaric activity, but while we celebrate for the foxes and coyotes that will be saved we must still recognize that animals have a bulls eye on their back with hunters ready to take aim. That too rings barbaric in this so-called modern society.
A final thought from an email that was recently forwarded to me, as follows:
Now please pass this on to other pet owners. We do not have to wait for Heaven, to be surrounded by hope, love, and joyfulness. It is here on earth and has four legs!