Are We Animal Lovers? Or Users of Animals?

When I began writing about animal welfare issues, I naively thought that what was missing in the community was a lack of focused leadership, and that if only more people knew the truth about the plight of many animals around the world, we could join together and make positive changes.

Oh, what a fool I was.

You love me.... as long as Jen keeps getting great photos of me that pull on your heartstrings.
You love me…. as long as Jen keeps getting great photos of me that pull on your heartstrings.

What do I know today? That the pet industry is one of the fastest growing in many places around the world. Animals appear in more commercials than they don’t. Looking at cute animal pictures on the Internet is one of the biggest time thieves in modern-day life.

While at the same time, human commitment to animal welfare has declined in the past eight years.

Humans are responsible for the almost-certain extinction of elephants, rhinos, and tigers.

We turn a blind eye to the abuses of the animal agriculture industry because we don’t want to pay more to eat meat.

We don’t want animals used for product testing, yet we still buy products that ARE tested on animals.

And, despite great strides made, we still have an excess number of homeless companion animals in practically every place around the world.

I was one of millions of homeless cats before Jen took me in. Taking me in doesn't make Jen a hero. Finding solutions to millions of unowned cats makes a hero. When will THAT happen?
I was one of millions of homeless cats before Jen took me in. Taking me in doesn’t make Jen a hero. Finding solutions to millions of unowned cats makes a hero. When will THAT happen?

What I have learned is that there are a great many people in the world who love animals, but only to the extent that the animals make the human feel better.

They ooh! and aah! at Tony the Tiger in Slidell, Louisiana, while blindly looking past the fact that tiger has been kept alone in a small cage to entertain and make money, with no regard to his needs.

They pay to pet tiger cubs without once asking if it’s good for the cub to be kept away from its mother for so long, or what will happen to it once it’s too old to be used to make money for the human exploiters.

They eat bacon from pigs born to sows kept in cages so small they can’t turn around. Hey, who cares about the pig when you have bacon!

And, what disturbs me more than all the rest, is how we have turned the care of companion animals into a class warfare issue. My dog is better than your dog because he eats raw, or X brand food that costs more per bag than what you feed your dog all year. Or my dog is better than your dog because mine stays inside, or goes to the park every day, or gets his nails clipped by a groomer, or………. the list grows longer every day.

Not so hard to see how class differentiation of pet ownership soon means that more mixed breeds die so that designer dogs can live.

I don’t know what the solution is. I honestly doubt there is a solution…. at least, not as long as humans are the ones whose wants trump the needs of every other species.



19 thoughts on “Are We Animal Lovers? Or Users of Animals?

  1. I so agree. I’ve talked to people who mention wanting a pet, and when I’ve suggested local shelters I know, they’ve said they prefer a purebred. In two particular cases I then mentioned rescue organizations who specialize in the breed they like, but they said no, they’d rather work with a breeder. I find that so sad — perfectly good, loving animals in need of homes are rejected sight unseen in favor of, as you perfectly said it, designer dogs….but those same people would also say they are animal lovers. Thank you for this post highlighting major contradictions like these…it’s heart-breaking and I hope posts like yours will help open up some eyes!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I was recently shopping in a supermarket and because I was unable to go to my local butcher I looked to see what free range meat I could buy from the shops, and it was so impossible to tell what was what I gave it up as a bad job. I think labeling needs to be clearer, where did the product come from, how were the animals treated, not just in food but make-up. If i knew that an a product had been tested on an animal I would not use it but it is often so hard to tell, and when you get into the whole this is produced by X , who falls under the company of y but the parent company is actually z and it turns out z who owns their own animal testing plant. More must be done!!

  3. Waitaminute, Jen. Didn’t you save Rumpy? Who knows what fate would have befallen the cats, had you not made the sacrifices you’ve made? I think many of us do love animals. It isn’t a sin to get pleasure from sharing your love. I love my wife, and she loves me. Do we use each other, to a certain degree? I imagine we do. But that’s not a bad thing. We give more than we get. I know that Jack would have died a horrible and very early death, were it not for us. Tippy before him. She was literally on the schedule to go into that little room. We saved her life, and the life she had with us was a happy and fulfilling dog-life.

    Sure, there are scumbags out there who abuse animals. But there are also animal lovers, who would do anything to make their fur-children happy and healthy.

  4. Absolutely spot-on, Jen. Yours are words that need to be heard until humans face up to the fact we SHARE this planet with all life. It is in everyone’s best interest that we wake up and even so, there are species that will become extinct. We simply have to do better and posts like yours help spread the word.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” (Margaret Mead). It’s a place to begin. Thanks, Jen.


  5. I agree. I think when we stop thinking of animals as objects ,instead of our partners in this world, maybe we won’t see them as so disposable. I hope that day comes. Thanks off this great
    Jill and Junior

  6. Accessory pets? A bit pathetic.
    Around here this area there’s been so much more concern about abandoned animals on the streets, animal fighting, people becoming aware of rescue groups of specific breeds, mass pet adoption fairs involving multiple agencies, and having spaces for people and their dogs to eat and play, there’s a glimmer of hope.
    A bit of a concern is some well meaning people at local city pounds that insist on raising the adoption fees to $400-500. Pretty high initial cost (then beds, bowls, leashes, food, toys in addition) It all adds up. Adoptable pets linger as potential owners look at signs in neighborhoods/flea markets for lower priced pets. Some think, those who can’t afford the initial cost, maybe can’t afford a pet …but that seems a little steep to me – and we’ve adopted rescues from different groups including a city one (before the huge price increase.) I know they “love” animals – but the animals would love a real forever home.
    (Had to laugh – I know it’s wrong – about the paragraph “what disturbs me the most…” Somehow it reminded me of the old stupid scorn and battles between women with jobs outside the home and stay at home moms.
    People have such tunnel vision sometimes.)
    Everyone can do what they can do to improve their little corner of the world. Can’t really do anything about that stuff way over there – but every little bit done around you helps….and if everyone did that, the circles of influence would eventually overlap and merge

    1. I agree. Promoting awareness is important. If they didn’t promote awareness about the live of the cows before they end up on my plate, I would have just continued eating regular meat. i want to buy mear or eggs from animals who have had a happy and healthy life.
      But I also think the awareness could grow more, and become better. Especially the awareness around the importance of not declawing and spaying/neutering.

      Great post, Rumpy. 🙂

  7. I confronted this same question the first time I attended BlogPaws. I was very surprised to find a conference of animal lovers did not have any more vegetarians than the general population. And it got me wondering what it meant to most people to consider themselves animal lovers.

    Like with the environment, making responsible personal choice are only one part. We need to advocate for legislative change.

    And while we have a long way to go, we are continuing to make progress.

  8. Sadly, this all has to do with humans’ selfishness. So many want more, more, more. And with that mindset, people just aren’t taking the time to think about their actions and choices, and/or the effects thereof. 😦

  9. Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or
    guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog
    based on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would value your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an email.

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