Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Animal Cruelty - The Race to Humanity

Imagine living inside a locked closet without any control over any aspect of your life. 
You can’t choose when and what you eat, how you will spend your time, whether or not you will have a partner and children, or who that partner will be. You can’t even decide when the lights go on and off.
Think about spending your entire life like this, a prisoner, even though you have committed no crime. This is life for an animal in a laboratory. It is deprivation, isolation, and misery.

On top of the deprivation, there are the experiments. U.S. law for example, allows animals to be burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, starved, drowned, addicted to drugs and brain-damaged. No experiment, no matter how painful or trivial, is prohibited – and pain-killers are not required.  Even when alternatives to the use of animals are available, the law does not require that they be used—and often they aren’t.

Animals are infected with diseases that they would never normally contract, tiny mice grow tumors as large as their own bodies, kittens are purposely blinded, rats are made to suffer seizures, and primates’ skulls are cut open and electrodes are implanted in them. Experimenters force-feed chemicals to animals, conduct repeated surgeries on them, implant wires in their brains, crush their spines, and much more.

After enduring these terrifying, painful procedures, animals are then usually dumped back into a cage without any painkillers. Video footage from inside laboratories shows animals who cower in fear every time someone walks by their cages. They don’t know if they will be dragged from their prison cells for an injection, blood withdrawal, a painful procedure, surgery or death. Often they see other animals killed right in front of them.

No animals are safe from experimentation—primates, dogs, rats, mice, rabbits, pigs, fish and cats are just a few of the animals who are routinely used in these tests.

It is estimated that at least 500 million animals suffer in labs throughout the United States alone.  In fact, no federal law regulates what happens to animals during actual experiments. Even food, water, medical care and infant access to mothers are routinely denied if deemed to be necessary for experimental conditions. Law enforcement is notoriously lax, and ethical decisions are made by industry insiders, often co-workers and friends of the researchers.

Animal Testing is cruel and unreliable. There are three main animal tests used on millions of animals each year: (1) the Eye Irritancy Testing which is also called the Draize test, which forces chemicals into the eyes of fully conscious, restrained rabbits. No pain relievers or anesthetics of any kind are used. The extreme pain often causes them to struggle so severely that they break their own backs-dying in agony needlessly. (2) The Skin Irritancy Testing, which places corrosive chemicals onto the shaved/raw skin of rabbits and guinea pigs. The caustic nature of these substances causes severe injuries to the animals. Gaping wounds and bleeding are common. (3) And the Oral Toxicity Testing, the LD50, which force-feeds strong chemicals to fully conscious animals for 14-28 days until they die.

I saw a video once that showed another pointless and troubling test made on geese. One of the low I.Q researchers had a thought. How could a goose survive on the ground if he could not fly. Everyone agreed it was a very good idea. 50 geese were rounded up, their wings were broken, and they were left to thrive on their own in a wooded area. I don’t need to continue to tell you they all died a slow unnecessary death. I am sure the one who dreamed up this ignorant experiment received a commendation and a promotion.

Imagine if he had been in their place. Now this doesn't look very appealing now does it? It is incredible how we are disgusted when seeing pictures of bloody suffering animals, but we are absolutely enraged, fearful and rebelious when seeing our fellow humans possibly in a similar situation. As a Romanian saying says: "Ce tie nu-ti place, altuia nu-i face." ("what you don't like done to yourself, don't do to others."). Well it works for every living creature.
Of course, domestic animals are not the only target.
There is also a dolphin horror story to be told.

Every year more than 20,000 dolphins, whales, and porpoises are killed by Japan. This is the largest deliberate slaughter of dolphins in the world. In Taiji Bay, a picturesque tourist attraction, Japanese fishermen employ "drive fishery" to force dolphins and other sea mammals ashore then hack them to death, slashing their throats and stabbing them with spears and knives repeatedly.

Fishermen go out in boats to known dolphin migratory routes. Positioning their boats strategically, they space out to form a line and wait for the dolphins. When the dolphins arrive, the fishermen drop long metal pipes into the water, and by banging on the pipes they create a wall of sound. The sound interferes with the dolphins' ability to navigate - it disorients and panics them. The dolphins swim away from the sound, and the fisherman maneuver their boats herding them into a small shallow bay. Once in the bay, nets are drawn across the mouth of the bay to keep them penned in. Dolphins will not abandon these wounded family members and so they are trapped and brutally killed.

Even though dolphins are among the world's most intelligent animals, the fishermen view the animals as "pests" who compete for fish.

The Japanese fishermen use threats and violence to keep tourists and others away from the bay, knowing that their fellow citizens and the world-at-large would oppose them. The Japanese government issues permits to allow this massacre. The government and fishermen are so secretive that the majority of Japanese people don't even know the slaughter occurs.

After the massacre, the bodies of the dolphins are taken to a slaughter house to be butchered. The meat is severely contaminated with pollutants but is sold without warnings in supermarkets in Japan - supermarkets often owned by US and European chains.

Beyond the experiments and the slaughter for profit, excessive fishing that leaves some waters almost barren of their fish population (I don’t understand then why  the local fishermen are complaining there’s not enough fish anymore!), there are also the most common every day deeds that your next door neighbor can be blamed for. Animal neglect and cruelty in its very pure form.

And here I’d include dog and cock fights. We very well know that in some American states certain breeds of dogs like Bulldogs and Rottveilers have been outlawed considered to be violent animals. Well what about the humans breeding them for illegal fights? They take advantage of the animal’s more aggressive and territorial nature and engage them in life and death fights out of which most dogs are left with untreatable wounds or simply die because of infections and broken bones. The images shown by the ASPCA (American Veterinary Police) are horrifying.

And then there is the neglect towards our pets. Dogs, cats, cows, horses, sheep, goats – you name it! – left chained or locked away without food or water, untreated wounds, dirty infected cages, abandoned inside homes when the owners move away and the list could go on. If you cannot care for your pet then give him away to someone who can. Once you’ve made them dependant on you, they won’t know how to properly take care of themselves on their own. I bet Grasu would have a really hard time surviving the people and traffic and rats in the garbage in Bucharest before he learns the way of the street and make a life for himself without me. I cannot even picture this scenario actually!

Before. You wouldn't know that's a dog right there.
After. But there he is. A tiny little one too. That's what happens when you have a pet who needs groooming and you ignore to trim his hair. 
Before: Yes. If you chain them in mud that's how they'll look.

After. This is how the dog looks under all that mud.

Exotic animals are NOT pets. Get it people!
There is also the increasing danger of over breeding coming from the so called hoarders, people who are really in love with animals and from the desire to do good they adopt way too many animals, more than they can handle. And suddenly you have cases of people owning 50 cats, all in a small house, who have bred amongst themselves and are most likely wild because you cannot tame them all. Or too many dogs trapped in small muddy enclosures, underfed, no vaccines, literally forming a point of infection for both the animal and the owner. And when the police tries to seize these animals the owners literally go crazy on them. Obsession taken to the extremes is not healthy for any of the parties involved. I’ve seen some pretty nasty cases on TV.

Of course, where there is so much cruelty, there is also good in the people who fight for animal rights. Who understand that we are the "superior" beings and that stray dogs for example are the consequence of our own neglect. They don’t let themselves out in the street. We do. We can’t blame them for being animals and wanting to survive when let loose in our environment. It’s like we should be blamed for being human. I mean, one of our best excuses is “I’m only human.” Well, they’re only animals with a lesser intelligence than us. Or so they say. Sometimes it makes me wonder if their instinct and emotional intelligence doesn’t make up for the lack of knowledge when it comes to animal vs man.

I wish we had a veterinary police the way Americans have. God, I’d volunteer for that in a blink! I will just add a few pictures of people in different situations who have unconditionally helped their fellow animals.

I would also add, there’s a tremendous debate among parents if animals should be allowed near kids, especially when they are very small. That would require a whole new blog to cover, but I am just going to say this: I would let my Grasu next to my baby because Grasu has been vaccinated and taken care of as if he were a member of my family. I know he would form a wonderful bond with my child because there is an emotional connection and a level of trust out there that I cannot explain in words. The dog we sent to Germany (Finchen – that mom and I visited last year) she’s ten days older than Nancy’s youngest daughter, Zoey. They grew up together and you cannot possibly separate them. Finchen even got her own pacifier because she saw Zoey had one too. This is a long lasting friendship, I know it. 

I grew up with Lupa, my German Shepard girl. I literally had her since she was a tiny little rat of a pup. She died age 13 following cancer complications and despite three surgeries and treatment. By the time the disease took over she could no longer walk and grandpa and grandma would carry her on a blanket. That’s love. Grandpa would even carry her pups when they were very tiny and born in winter in his breast pocket, inside the jacket, to keep them warm while Lupa was out to stretch her legs. She was always very fond of us for helping her raise her babies. We’ve saved dogs and cats from poisoning, from being beaten up, from being caught in fences and barb wire. One of our neighbors threw an ax at Nero (Lupa’s father) and cut his back leg. He underwent surgery and was left to live the rest of his life without an entire muscle to his leg. He still walked but it he would get tired very fast if he tried to run. I saved a few kittens, a piglet and a turkey chick when I was younger. I never thought I’d end up having a pet because I want animals to have the space and liberty to move and live free in as much as possible. But I was blessed with this absolutely adorable, loving, fantastic personality of a cat, my masked warrior Grasu. And yes, he would enjoy my babies and my babies will surely make him “suffer” haha!

There are many benefits to having a healthy, loving pet. Dogs are exceptionally loyal and intelligent animals. Look at all the rescue, cadaver, drug detection dogs. The guide dogs for the blind and those who are trained to warn people when they’re having an epileptic seizure. And there are countless stories of people being rescued by their non-trained pets when having a heart attack or literally being stuck in an emergency situation.

I am only scratching the surface when it comes to animal cruelty against domestic and wild life. We think a spider is insignificant? I am sure it has a role in the system that we probably don’t care about. Of course, too much of one species ruins the natural balance. But many times we have helped destroy that balance by bringing animal/bugs/birds/fish species from other countries to our own environment as pets, then we let them go out there. So we ended up with boa snakes in Florida and gigantic grass hopers in God knows what farm lands in countries where this bug doesn’t normally live. And then bye bye crops!

I say let’s do what we can to prevent animals from being treated so horribly. Technology has evolved and there are alternatives to animal testing. And if that is not an option for the large corporations and industries seeking profit alone, then perhaps we can improve legislation and prevent them from being so unnecessarily cruel. Even if I absolutely doubt that is possible with the things I’ve seen happening in those labs.

For the rest – it’s up to our consciousness and common sense. There are entire cities along the Mediterranean coast who survive solely on fishing. Perhaps something should be done so they focus on other activities and have other revenue sources for a while so they allow the fish to repopulate. It would benefit both the sea and them. Attempts are being made to create natural marina reservations, pretty much like in Africa and a recent documentary made by Jean Jacque Cousteau’s son shows the exceptional difference between these areas protected by law and those where fishing is still allowed. Red coral for example - from which exquisite jewelry is made /// and was literally scraped off the bottom of the sea in the 70s in huge quantities /// and takes about 50 years to get to maturity - is now finally showing on the deep water cliffs and the fish population is ten times larger than outside the reservation. Unfortunately, these sanctuaries are very few in numbers as the pressure for profit is immense and the environmentalists are powerless sometimes in facing these materialistic aspects of our society.

And remember: not being involved directly in animal cruelty - for those who suuport this idea! - doesn't mean that you are not to be blamed when you destroy their habitat. And by you I mean us, humans. Cutting down forests, burning entire fields, poisoning the waters with our garbage and chemical waste, air pollution - it's still animal cruelty. And ironically, it's human cruelty as well because we all share this planet. 

Take care of your pets, groom them and take them to the vet for tests at least once a year. But beyond all, give them attention and love and communicate with them like with any other member of your family. Because that’s what they are. I believe we are all coming back to this world in cycles. Sometimes as humans, sometimes perhaps as another kind of soul. If you were to be reborn an animal and suffer this way – how would you like it?

We all deserve a happy life; as humans and as animals. So let’s work on it!



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