A couple of months ago, as I was advocating shelter pets, I came across a cute little dog named “Roo” on Pet Pardons, and I sent the photo to my brother with the little dog’s information. Since my brother had recently lost two dogs, I thought Roo would make the perfect companion for his remaining dog, Riley. Among the info that I sent him along with the photo, was an unemotional statement that Roo was on death row and had three days before he would be euthed. Advocating is what I do. .. if I got emotional over every precious face I saw on Pet Pardons or Facebook that only had 72 hours or less to live, I’d be an emotional wreck. So I just do what has to be done and try not to let it get to me.
My brother is not an advocate, so he became very emotional. He couldn’t adopt Roo. He and his wife don’t want another male dog because they’ve had marking issues with Riley. He doesn’t have a network of friends he could share Roo’s info with. Knowing that there was nothing he could do to save Roo made him very upset. He told me that he couldn’t concentrate, he couldn’t work. Basically, he couldn’t do anything but agonize about the cute little dog he’d seen in his email. I felt terrible.
I advocated for Roo all that weekend, and on Tuesday I got the great news that he’d been pardoned. (That meant that a rescue group had stepped up to take him and he was saved.) When I let me brother know, he told me that he could not adequately convey what it meant to him to learn that Roo was safe. I was grateful that I had been able to give him the good news, because otherwise, I was afraid he might never forgive me.
Fast forward to today.
When I logged onto Facebook, I was assaulted by a photo of one of the most unspeakable acts of animal cruelty I have ever seen. (I will spare you the details). This was the fourth such image in my newsfeed this year, and like the others before it, it was about an animal in another country. The four most heinous acts of animal abuse I have seen this year took place in Lebanon (2), Bosnia and Afghanistan.
I carry the images of those dogs in my soul. I will never forget their faces or their suffering. There is nothing I could do for any of these dogs. The news of three of them came long after the abuses had occurred. I do not know who the abusers were or how to tell the authorities about them. I do not hold out any hope that even if I could, there would be any justice for the animals involved. The abuses happened in other countries, in different cultures. And here is where I am likely to make some enemies…
I do not close my eyes to acts of animal cruelty in the US, no matter how horrific. That’s because there is something I can do about it. There are judges and prosecutors I can write to, there are places to donate, there are media outlets, there is advocacy.
But I do not want to see images of animal cruelty of this magnitude from other countries. Because it’s the culture that is the problem, and until the culture of the country changes, the animals cannot be saved. It’s like trying to put a band aid on a chainsaw wound. The abusers will not be punished, the animals will never have justice, because the mindset of the culture is one that does not value them. When a culture advocates putting humans to death for homosexuality, infidelity, and secularism, how can we expect that culture to care about how their animals are treated? How can anyone hope to change minds that are shuttered by such staggering ignorance?
Sharing those photos with advocates who have no resources to help the victims creates the same pain and agony that my brother felt over not being able to help Roo. If you are going to show us the abuses, then give us the tools and hope to make a difference.