My family has been involved in animal rescue for the last few years and we have spent countless hours, tears, dollars and heart aches literally saving canine lives. Some have been easy. Some have been really hard; like the ones dying at 4 AM that we’ve spent all night administering IV fluids to only to have to bury them the next morning before we get ready to tackle our work day. It’s been incredibly rewarding and there have been more “wins” than losses, but it’s also been excruciating. Our home and yard have endured thousands of dollars of damage from puppies chewing, adults who decided our furniture, carpets and area rugs made a fantastic bathroom and because there is so much need, no matter what we’ve done…it’s never enough. Through it all, we’re keeping our eyes open.
I’ve met and befriended some amazing people through animal rescue. However, these same people who put their hearts and homes on the line every day are also some of the most hateful people in my social media feeds. Their comments and posts make me cringe and retract. They post and share horrific stories of animal abuse and comment about their hatred for humanity… “I HATE PEOPLE” is a common retort, followed by, “IF I GET AHOLD OF THAT PERSON, YOU CAN’T BEGIN TO IMAGINE WHAT I WOULD DO TO HIM.” I wonder every time if an eye for an eye is really the solution? Was it the solution in Dallas last week when a sniper opened fire and killed five police officers in retaliation for two recent deaths of black men at the hands of police officers?
If we hate people, doesn’t that mean we actually hate a piece of ourselves? Simply because of my involvement with animal rescue, my social media feed is FILLED with calls for help, photos of animals dying, videos of horrific animal abuse that I want to turn away from. However, the responses from my friends in rescue to these publicly shared atrocities is most often… “ I HATE PEOPLE” and a call to arms to harm the violator in the same way he or she has violated the animal.
How is the call to arms any different then what the Dallas sniper was trying to accomplish? When we call for an eye for an eye, we all go blind.
I have two pure bread German Shepard dogs…litter mates that are nine-years old. We paid $1500 dollars for them when they were puppies. My “friends” in rescue would admonish me for having encouraged a breeder by purchasing his puppies, and after my experiences in animal rescue, I would agree. But here’s the deal…Nine years ago I had NO idea the state of atrocities we all face and the number of animals euthanized each week because of over breeding and irresponsible owners who don’t spay and neuter. I wanted a puppy and my then husband had an affinity for German Shepherds. Any other breed would not have been welcomed in our home in the same way. Before we purchased our GSD pups, I had spent MONTHS researching the breed…trying to understand the differences between the European variety and the American. I had a three-year old son and I was very specific about what I wanted in terms of temperament in order to keep my child safe, and less so but also important, I was very conscientious about what my husband would accept into our family.
I grew up in a small, rural northeastern community where people spayed &neutered, or if there was an unintentional litter, neighbors were thrilled to adopt a puppy. My fist GSD was purchased while I was living in Sweden and at the time there was no such thing as a Humane Society or animal control in the Scandinavian country. Residents were responsible with their canine companions and as I searched for a puppy, I quickly realized my only path was through a breeder. Here in the United States, it’s very different. I have neighbors whose children have been involved with our fosters but the families still don’t’ spay or neuter their dogs, and every time I see my neighbors announcing a new puppy resulting from their disregard, I also want to scream…”I HATE PEOPLE.” But given my own experiences of misunderstanding and ignorance, how can I scream at my neighbors? I can’t. What I can do is try to provide information and resources. Screaming, “I HATE PEOPLE” only means something to those of us on the front lines and truly it only alienates the very people we are trying to reach. Once I start to scream…nobody will listen and everyone becomes defensive. We live what we know and until we know better, we can’t do better.
Perhaps the analogy between animal rescue and what’s happening in our country won’t resonate with you, but if you’re one of my friends in social media and you’re encouraging people to hate each other, or to enact an “eye for an eye” methodology…I’d like to encourage you to take a step back…to ask yourself if what you’re posting is truly in-line with your belief system, and given what I know about you putting your heart on the line every day to save animals…do you really want to encourage your colleagues and friends to hate humanity and to make each other blind? You have a choice. Where do you stand? The dialogue matters. Are you willing to encourage and engage and educate, or are you only willing to proclaim your hatred?
We are all connected. We all have a voice. How are you using yours?