I don’t eat my friends

PRESIDENTIAL Proclamation No. 715, series of 2004 declares the first week of October of every year as Animal Welfare Week.

So it’s just fitting that today we talk about the hypocrisy and stupidity of some people who fancy themselves as Animal Welfare Advocates; for some it’s the family business, some even make it their livelihood, while others make it a status symbol, and they wear it on their chest.

The really serious ones consider it both their vocation and avocation.  Most of them think it’s cool to be one. I suppose it is, being one and still is for almost two decades now.

There’s nothing wrong if you consider yourself an animal welfare advocate, but what is really ironic to the point of being self-contradictory is that most of them who claim to be are enjoying their Big Macs, steaks, lechon kawali, inihaw na liempo and chicken barbeque.

You have no right calling yourself an Animal Welfare Advocate if you eat animals! You don’t have to be fussy about it or wear it on your shoulder.

It’s quite simple really, just skip the meat!

A lot of them go to great lengths to rescue a stray dog or cat when these feral animals don’t really need rescuing in the first place. That litter of kittens or puppies you find hidden in some corner or tucked in an ally are not abandoned, their mother knows exactly where they are, she just went out for food. So what happens when she returns and finds out her kittens are gone rescued by some ignorant wannabe?

How do you think a mother feels when she finds that her children are gone? Animals are best left as nature intended them to be without human intervention. The sad thing about it is that when these so-called rescuers are done and feeling good about it, they would go to McDonald’s for a Big Mac or Jollibee for Chicken Joy to celebrate what they thought was their good deed for the day.

There is nothing wrong with eating meat. What you put in your body is your choice but never claim to be an animal welfare advocate if you eat animals. The best welfare you can give these animals is by not eating them!

Another situation and is quite common among these so-called “dog lovers” is that they make their dogs wear clothes and worse, they also make them wear shoes. I do not know if it’s just sheer ignorance, lack of proper information or plain stupidity but putting clothes and shoes on dogs are probably two of the cruelest things you can do to them aside from eating them. Nature has already given the dogs the best outfit that can protect them both from cold and heat – their fur. Dogs do not have sweat glands and cannot regulate their body heat as humans can; they can only sweat through their tongues hence they pant with their tongues out when it’s hot. So having them wear clothes is like you wearing winter clothes standing under the sun in the middle of Philippine summer.

Likewise for putting shoes on your dog’s paws. You may think your little Pomeranian looks cute with his little boots on, how he feels with those cute boots on; it’s like wearing ice skating boots while trying to walk in the sidewalk. In order for dogs to have a sense of balance and direction their paws have to feel every step of the way.   Please remember that dogs are animals and not humans, it is inhumane to humanize them.

Being an animal welfare advocate does not mean that you post on Facebook pictures of animals suffering and then try to unload your guilt by pestering animal welfare groups to rescue these animals when you could very well do something yourself to help them. Sometimes all it takes is simply for you to give these animals a drink of water, maybe feed them or talk nicely to their owners to try to treat their pets more kindly.

When all else fails, report it to the police, we have an Animal Welfare Law that they are duty-bound to uphold.

It does not also mean that if you consider yourself an animal welfare advocate you bother your friends on Facebook and Twitter to the point of irritation by sending them all sorts of petition asking them to sign when these petitions are for some places in Iceland or Timbuktu and are not in any way remotely even affecting the Philippines. We all know that these petitions are all for naught and really a waste of time and effort.

But if you feel that you have to do something to prove that you are indeed an animal welfare advocate, then go out and volunteer your services to these three animal welfare NGOs namely, the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA) and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

Doing volunteer work for any of these organizations will open your eyes to the real world of animal welfare. You might even be disappointed as it is not the glamorous gig you thought it was but honest to goodness hard work saving animals.

As a parting shot, as an animal welfare advocate I attended a lot of meetings, conferences and seminars organized by the Bureau of Animal Industry / Animal Welfare Division. These meetings, conferences and seminars usually last the whole day and lunch would be served; the food is always carnivorous. I guess this just show the insensitivity and callousness of organizers, with nary a concern for the animals and the sensitivity of participants that are vegetarians. And to think these activities are supposed to be an animal welfare activity.

To best express the essence of this piece, allow me to end with a line from George Bernard Shaw… “Animals are my Friends, I don’t eat my Friends.” (brotherlouie16@gmail.com/PN)

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