Be Kind to Animals.

A few nights ago I happened to turn the TV on to catch the last few minutes of a segment on 60 Minutes called "The Lion Whisperer." It was about a man who used to work at Lion Park in South Africa, where tourists can pet lion cubs, and left to start his own lion reservation. The first few minutes showed him taking walks with the lions, playing with them, and talking about his relationship with them. The next clip went on to further investigate Lion Park and what happens to the lion cubs once they reach adulthood. The owner claimed they went on to "good homes", but the sad reality is that at least some of them, if not the majority, end up in fenced enclosures being used as trophies for canned hunting. Before I knew it, with no warning, right before my eyes were two very graphic clips of defenseless lions being shot multiple times. Tears started welling up in my eyes. I was shocked at what I saw.

I've had pets since the day I was born. I grew up with a dog and 2 cats and was taught not just to love and treat animals like family, but that they are family. My childhood dog was my heart and soul. Ben and I adopted our first pet, a ferret, in college when we had been together only 6 months, and our family has grown since then to presently include 2 ferrets, 2 cats, and a dog. They are our children; we are a family. We would go to the end of the earth to protect them, to make sure that they are safe, healthy, and happy.


A little over 3 years ago I finally made enough of a connection between my pets and my food to realize that I no longer wanted to eat animals. I'm vegetarian because one day I looked into my cat's eyes and realized that it hurt my heart to think about someone ever hurting him that way. I don't own leather products for the same reason. The cows, chicken, pigs, and fish that make up a meal or a pair of shoes are no different to me than the dog, cats, and ferrets I share my home, my life, and my heart with.
(For the record, I don't judge anyone who may have different views from me. I understand that as we are animals, eating other animals is a natural part of life and not inherently wrong. Eating animals may not be wrong, but it is wrong for me. I am happy to discuss this further but that is not the point of this post).


In my head, I know not everyone views animals the way I do. I know that not everyone has been fortunate enough to know the unconditional love an animal gives, to know what it feels like to have an animal truly depend on them, or to see how amazingly smart, caring, and loving animals can be. I know that some people don't consider their pets family. I've been accused of being a bleeding heart, and I can't say that's an entirely unfair categorization. Still, even though I can acknowledge that I may be more sensitive to animals than most, mistreatment of animals still baffles me.

I don't even know how to describe what it felt like to see adult human beings gunning down a beautiful lion, a lion who had been raised in captivity since birth, a lion who had no capacity of knowing to or being able to defend himself. It was sickening. It was horrifying. It was devastating. I'm not usually one to get emotional over things I see on TV, but this made me feel like I got punched in the stomach. I recognize that there may be a fuzzy line that keeps us from being able to agree if things like zoos or fishing or wild game hunting are right or wrong. It's obvious where I stand on those issues, but I can at least concede that those on the other side may have a valid argument and aren't vile human beings. I can't say the same for these people participating in canned hunting. I don't like to jump to judgment but this is one instance where I have no problem stating that those people don't even deserve to breathe the same air as those lions.


Needless to say, I went to bed that night hugging my babies a little bit tighter.

17 comments :

  1. I feel the same way. I have worked with animal adoption groups for years for the same reasons.

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  2. I saw that story on 60 minutes, and it completely repulsed me! I'm thankful for people like Kevin Richardson (aka The Lion Whisperer) for helping to make a difference!

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  3. I didn't get to watch that episode of 60 minutes but so wish I did. It's so beautiful that he can just hang out with lions!!! :) I follow an Instagram account called blackjaguarwhitetiger and it's so amazing. He is similar to that guy that ws featured on TV. It's so cool to see people let animals be just that!

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  4. I don't understand how people can hurt animals the way they do. I mean, killing (HUMANELY) for food is one thing... but shooting lions in a cage??? That's just sick.

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  5. this made me so sad.
    I love my pets, the ones with me and the ones in another country, or the ones long gone. they are family. KC and I are scared that our house will get broken into and someone will let our cats out - we want to leave a note that says 'take whatever you want, but please don't let the cats out or hurt them'. I care more about my cats than every single thing in my house.
    I love that you have your views and opinions and don't push them on others. I kind of dislike myself sometimes for not being a vegetarian, because I do love animals and hate how they are treated, and I am know we don't need animal products to survive like most people thing (I have a friend that 'HAS' to have meat in every meal because otherwise he won't get full, which is just ridiculous), and I want to get to the point where I am like 90% vegetarian, which will hopefully then naturally make me want to be vegetarian all the time.
    My mother in law is the biggest meat advocate I've ever met, besides my husband. And I have them both eating more vegetables than meat now, and my mother in law has been vegetarian for a couple months now (ok she had some turkey on thanksgiving, but almost all the time is better than none, right?).
    That being said, I would never push it on other people (i just try to guide them gently) to not eat meat, but I just don't understand how people can hurt animals. Like the lions, or how you hear about cats and dogs being tortured and left to die. what is actually wrong with these people that they do this? i don't care if you don't like animals, people always say to me that they don't like cats, and I don't care, but what is wrong with your head and heart that makes you hurt another living animal? hunting to eat, whatever, do it if you want - but hurting or killing an animal for fun? I cannot understand that.

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  6. Tracy, I had goosebumps reading this entire thing. It's just another way that you and I are kindred. I'd write a long response, but I'd just repeat everything you said. One thing bears repeating though: I honestly believe it takes a certain kind of darkened soul to be able to injure, harm, or kill an animal. Baffling doesn't begin to describe it. Anyway, I love that you shared this.

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  7. Oh my!!!! I would have lost it if I had watched that. I love animals. My dogs are family and are treated as such. I volunteer at the humane society in my spare time and try to find homes for as many homeless pets as possible. That quote you posted about good people having compassion for animals is a quote I live by. If you can harm an innocent animal, you are capable of horrible, unspeakable things. I believe in an eye for an eye when it comes to animal cruelty. If you harm an animal, the same harm should be done upon you.

    I am not a vegetarian. I have made more of an effort to cut back on my meat intake. I basically no longer eat pig. One day, I would like to have a pig as a pet. They are so cute! I am trying to cut back on other meats as well...but gosh darn do I love a cheeseburger. I basically eat mostly chicken or turkey with some beef here and there. I admire your dedication to go full on! Maybe one day, I hope to be there as well.

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  8. It disgusts me that there are people out there that find entertainment in such things. A couple of my boyfriend's former coworkers take part in live pigeon shoots and it completely repulses me. I believe the pigeons are bred in captivity and then starved and dehydrated for days before the shoot. It's disgusting.

    I've been vegetarian for 4 years and have cheated on a few occasions with fish or poultry. I did vegan for awhile, but I haven't been able to fully give up cheese even though I know the dairy industry is one of the worst. I own leather and wool products, but I'm not wasteful with them and they're items I'll take care of and wear forever or give to someone else who will. That doesn't stop me from feeling guilty and like I'm representing something I don't believe in. I'm conscious of it every time I wear them. Sometimes I think I should be doing more or trying harder, but I believe doing something is better than nothing and maybe someday I'll commit even more. It's certainly something I go back and forth with.

    Thanks for this great post!!

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    1. That's truly sickening. I just can't imagine being of a mindset where I thought something like that was even remotely okay. I try to be open-minded about most things and realize that not everyone has the same views that I do, but I just don't see how we can't all agree that animals at least have basic rights. It makes me so sad.

      I'm with you on that - I feel guilty that I haven't gone vegan, especially since the dairy industry is so awful. I've never given it a fair shot though, so I do plan to at least try it for a while at some point. I completely agree with your last point, and struggle with the same thing. I definitely think doing anything is better than nothing and I know that I'm doing the best I can right now. I hope to be able to do more, but I recognize that it's a gradual process (at least for me) and this is just where I am at this point.

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  9. I loved reading this! Admittedly, I'm not a big animal person, and I'm definitely guilty of not giving much thought to where the meat we eat comes from. Thank you for sharing all of this in a way that was sensitive and made sense without being pushy on your views.

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  10. Shooting lions in a cage is sick. Im not a vegetarian but I adore animals. I am not exaggerating to say I almost tear up every time I have to leave my dog at my parents house when I leave on a weekend (he lives with them as I cant have him in my apt). I cannot imagine how sick you would have to be to kill animals for entertainment / for no damn reason.

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  11. Agree! I have a real human baby, and I still call my two dogs my "sons" because they're still my boys, too! Sometimes, they're my favorite family members, too... :)

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    1. That's funny ;) I don't know if or when we will have a kid but either way our animals will always be our babies!

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  12. I had a similar tear jerking, hug my monsters extra reaction when I saw a post about the animals being abandoned at shelters for the holidays. It is taking EVERY last ounce of energy I have to be smart and rational and not adopt another dog. Ugh. I just wish I could save all the babies !

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  13. Pets are family. Without a doubt. I haven't reached the level of vegetarian yet but I'm learning more about organic meat and humane farms. I have friends who take in strays and fosters and I only wish I had that ability to do that!! My family dog, slider, is a rescue and I wouldn't have it any other way!!

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  14. Traveling having a pet is a rewarding encounter, yet it is important to bear in mind that a little preparation can go quite a distance toward keeping animals comfortable on the highway. In addition to searching dog heath with regard to pet-friendly lodging and transportation choices, pet owners will want to plan ahead for his or her animal's potential needs.

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