It seems ironic that a year ago this week the eyes of the world were on our town, as we collected to mourn the passing of Nodar Kumaritashvili, and united to celebrate our athletes’ accomplishments.
The eyes of the world are once again upon us, but for a lot harsher criticism than annoying highway delineators or bars that aren’t open late enough.
This time we’re in the spotlight for the alleged slaughtering of 100 sled dogs.
And what of this crime? There is no question it is a crime, and while I’m impressed at the outlash that has occurred in defence of our canine companions’ rights, I’m also shocked that the people who are marching through town carrying signs, or vehemently banging on dining tables, are also the same people who have no problems eating chicken or beef.
I’m not trying to point fingers here, nor am I trying to excuse the actions of the alleged offenders who sanctioned and carried out the slaughter. I was a vet technician for fifteen years so I understand all too well what it’s like to look an animal in the eye and watch him or her take his or her last breath. Believe me, you cannot be in the judgment seat until you’ve climbed on the bus and ridden the same experience.
I’m wondering, though, if we all need to look at a few other aspects that have been in the shadows during all this cacophony.
Several years ago I went dog sledding in our fair town. The trip was a gift by an ex, who thought that my love for animals would make it the perfect adventure. I won’t say which outfitter I visited, but I will share my observations. What I noticed was that the dogs were contained in tiny kennels, so small that they could not stand up and turn around. When dogs have to fly on a plane, the airlines require them to be kennelled in a crate that is large enough for them to stand up and turn. Cargo space in an airline is precious but even the carriers know they can’t cram dogs into tiny kennels. These dogs were bunched into kennels, often two per crate.
When I asked the guides about the cramped living quarters, they told me that’s how the dogs like it, that they love snuggling with each other, that it’s comforting for them.
I’m wondering, how is that any different from shoving chicken into cages and stacking them on top of one another?
We can all recall the horrific stories that emerged from Asia during the Avian Flu outbreak. Vets weren’t euthanizing the birds in a kind matter because hell, they’re just birds.
A friend of mine used to work for a swine slaughter house, and he tells stories about how he and his buddies used to chase the squealing pigs around with tasers.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that all animals should have rights. This goes for horses, chickens, cows, pigs, dogs, cats and even rats. And while I’m really pleased that people are standing up for the equal treatment of sled dogs, I think we need to re-evaluate our entire treatment of animals.
This includes the horses in Pemberton.