Animal lover in an apathetic world
03-20-2017, 06:11 PM
Animal lover in an apathetic world
TL;DR I need to bitch about all the injustices humanity has done to animals, how ineffective animal welfare law is, and how annoying it is attaching value and sentiment to non-human critters in a society that often laughs at that.
The Tolstoi-style rant:
What solace is there for an obsessed dog lover in the U.S., when we supposedly have made great strides in animal welfare and yet it is impossible to enforce or monitor? Yes, the positive notes are abundant, and why yes many millions of people do care about pets and livestock and all animals out there; however, is it all just a grim facade? A mere demonstration of grit and vitality in the face of an honestly overwhelming and infinitely complicated situation? How can any real justice ever be seen for animals when they are property under the law and may be exploited for profit to the extent that their economic viability has often trumped their well being in the eyes of the law?
My passion is for homeless pets and the remedy of the mistreatment of any emotive creature, that which can feel pain and process emotional states. These animals are under humanity's watch, we domesticated them, we own them wholesale and determine the outcome of every facet of their life and yet when someone decides to abuse them, neglect them, abandon them, there is no guarantee the justice system will consider this an evil act and prevent future cruelty by that person.
I would love to dedicate my life to animal rescue--if reality worked that way. I have to hold a day job, take care of myself and my pets, and deal with all the tragedy and hardship that life throws at you in addition to handling the trauma, stress, and emotional impact of charity work. It's usually thankless. I do my work, I walk a few shelter dogs, I cry over a dog who was badly abused or just abandoned and left to starve to death, and then I listen to people who complain that we shouldn't focus on animal sheltering at all while people have any needs. I never address the fact that I'm involved in animal rescue in my day to day life unless directly asked. I don't want recognition and I don't want other people to like me. I want these unwanted and mistreated companion animals to find good and loving homes, and yet how can I ever guarantee that? The Humane Society in my region is among the best shelters in the nation. Low-kill, with a 90% adoption rate, working in tandem with the local Animal Services. They are the ones who caused my city to become low kill in the first place and helped improve the local animal services.
And yet this simply means they have to focus on quantity over quality. Get the pets out of the shelter quickly as opposed to killing them quickly like so many public animal controls do. Bring all the cute and friendly dogs and cats to weekend adoptions at Petco, offer the old and ugly ones for free, and reserve the funding to work with the more difficult cases.
Does it really do any good? How can a brief screening and an emphasis on homing pets ever guarantee they will be treated even decently? Someone could abuse or hoard them at best, or misuse the pets for unmentionable, horribly cruel purposes instead. There isn't time for more thorough home and background checks, not with dozens of pets coming in a day, most of them perfectly friendly family pets and a whole truckload of kittens and puppies due to the combined impact of failing to spay and neuter, failing to supervise and confine pets properly, and failing to take responsibility if a pet does become pregnant.
The majority of the animals in the shelter had to be given up due to life changes. A new job, moving out of state, new children, an allergic new girlfriend, or a new car are all perfectly acceptable reasons to get rid of a pet. Imagine someone getting rid of their kids for any one of these reasons.
Of course in many cities and regions, this is an instant death sentence for a well-behaved, friendly, house-trained dog or cat who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some people do make use of the services, if available, offered by shelters to provide assistance in the continued care of a beloved family pet through a rough patch in life. Many places have animal controls that only see themselves as an animal disposal and containment facility and couldn't give two shits about "caring for" unwanted animals, "public outreach" to reduce numbers, or being some type of "non-profit" or "animal safety net." They have a business to run, and that business is capturing nuisance animals, humanely or inhumanely, and then housing and destroying them, humanely or inhumanely.
Other times, a region does have a great public animal shelter or a third party such as the ASPCA or Humane Society with programs like pet food assistance and a help desk people can call with common issues that lead to pets being given up, such as potty training and scratching furniture. And then these services are bypassed completely by the kind of less than human scum who abandons an old, senile dog on their doorstep, in the middle of the night, so their children don't have to see it. Or so they can go on vacation and be rid of the dog without their kids knowing what happened. Oh, we gave him to a farm with lots of room to run. That's the best case scenario. It's very common for people to literal leave their pets behind on a move. As in, locked in the house with no food or water or climate control to die.
You would think that the law would offer some recourse in these cases and yet it doesn't. Often a prospective rescuer is punished. If you know that a dog has been abandoned and left alone at home for some time, breaking in to rescue that pet will still have you facing full criminal charges. This is supposing you're lucky enough to be in an area where the local pound will care for this neglected pet rather than the dog being euthanized in the next week to a month.
Animals are property under the law. Their well being is only a serious issue in a few states. There may be laws against animal cruelty in every state, but few states have any more specific examples than that broad statement, and even the most heinous, heartbreaking, depraved examples of cruelty are often a slap on the wrist, if that.
Constantly in the news we see stories of police using lethal force on non-violent dogs because they can. In fact most states don't have any sort of statute against negligent death of a companion animal, and anyone who kills your dog or cat via car or gunshot can get away with it legally. Even the police, who damn well should know better, and who have many non-lethal tools at their disposal. A law requiring them to use non-lethal force on pets except as a last resort would be a solution, if such a thing could ever be enforced. There isn't enough money or manpower to ever enforce the law.
Take any example you can think of. The AHA overview of animal actors in films. The handling of livestock. The handling of pets by commercial breeders and pet shops. Dubious county pounds with a bad track record. Research facilities. There may be laws in place to protect those animals, but who is there to make sure these regulations are enforced? Especially if management or even an entire city or county is apathetic to animal welfare, or more concerned with economic viability than they are with the animal's needs and, as such, justify cutting corners.
Certainly people are more valuable than animals. This is necessary for moral reasons. This doesn't justify the inhumane treatment of any emotive creature and this does not justify the destruction of millions of companion animals in pounds each year. We do not kill orphans, and yet they require significant millions more to properly care for than some stray dogs in a kennel. The imbalance is staggering at times. In Kansas City they don't even have an animal shelter. It's an old construction trailer and some outbuilding left over from building an arena which processes thousands of animals a month, and which only as of a few years ago was able to have it's own medical facilities.
This may change next year if voters approve 14 million to build an actual animal control facility. It took 19 million for them to build an impound lot for illegally parked cars. 50 million of tax payer dollars will go towards helping the homeless and disadvantaged. Billions will be poured into vital infrastructure improvement. And yet their is fierce opposition to spending 14 million on an animal shelter, when they don't even have one in the city, and while none of these allocated dollars are taken away from the tax dollars towards the homeless. And even while this measure would allow Kansas City to potentially save thousands of lives of homeless pets, reunite many more pets with their owners, and offer a spay/neuter clinic to reduce intake, as well as provide a more positive image for the city and government.
Zooming in from this large-scale picture to the individual person, what can I possibly do in the face of these overwhelming numbers, all the tragedy, the abuses done, the changes that need to be made? Is it realistic to assume I could even help perhaps one animal shelter become low kill? I say I shouldn't carry this weight on my own shoulders, that it takes millions to make a real difference and since I don't have millions I should be content with being a much-needed piece in a big jigsaw puzzle, with changing the entire world for one dog or cat a time and the people who love them, with doing my part, where and when I can, while still taking care of myself, but it's not enough. It's never enough.
I always want to do more, to be more, to be stronger, to be more knowledgeable and more influential. I'm hard on myself for not directly working in the field when I know I'm not the right fit for that, and that animal rescue is a big thing where many, many different needs can be filled. I'm single and of course I'd like to have pets of my own. I couldn't realistically even hope to care for any if I were physically working in an animal shelter.
This leaves me scrambling for answers, how I can find a career that would offer the combination of features I need from it as a foundation for my lifestyle, how I could justify going through college and the debt it incurs when there's no guarantee of even finding work afterwords, of how grim going blue-collar looks since I would certainly make much less money and have much less freedom to make the changes I want to and to take care of my own pets, with the best case scenario there being either self-employed in a safe enough field where my dog could come along on jobs with customer permission or I could afford a day care. Even this might be a pipe dream.
In my dreams I have the perfect career and competition and job availability doesn't exist. The real world is not so kind. There is no romanticism and ideals. Everything has a downside. A life devoted to caring for homeless pets is one that will experience the kind of exposure to death, suffering, tragedy, and hellish human behavior that often is only otherwise felt in a war zone.
It's easy to say the perfect fit for me and my pets is a remote-work career like computer science, something that can be abstracted and done online, that intense study and mastery of my field, doing great work for my employer, and not taking up any physical resources would be enough to get hired, make bank, buy an RV, and then go travel the country with my puppies raising awareness, raising hell, fostering dogs, and living life as an adventure. Actually doing it is the crazy part. Living in the moment and in the present where I am now is painful.
I've been out of school for years. I decided to drive trucks instead. I sincerely doubt I have the intelligence needed for college-level material, and I know that with how competitive and popular higher education is, I will need to be better than everyone else for any hope of landing a career. Sure it may be worth it in the end for my dream job, all the debt, all the years paying out the nose to study unrelated topics, all the anxiety and uncertainty of actually finding work in a flooded pool of qualified applicants saddled with the additional handicap of seeking a niche or specialty kind of work environment, but it may not even be realistically achievable.
The steps between me as I am now, and the me I imagine as an adventurer who does his day job and does it well online with a home office setup in an RV, and travels the land in his free time as a dog-loving hellion, these steps may not even be ones that have a high probability of being doable, no matter how much I believe in myself or go for it without giving up. Reality doesn't care about you or your passions. I would just be one person out of billions trying to uphold my life and the lives of other individuals in need.
Even if I do get there, can I really hope to find work life balance? I know I couldn't hope to travel all the time without burning myself out. Perhaps if I found a posse of friends I trusted enough that I had someone who could drive for me while I was the bread winner--and yet this is overanalyzing things, making plans that are too detailed, too many years into the future in an unstable and chaotic world.
Supposing that through grit and dammned dogged determination I do make my crazy dreams reality, what then? Again dreams are easier than real life. I can imagine all the things I can do like a Dr. Seuss book or a cheesy pop song. I can write down a notepad file with all the things this traveling adventurer lifestyle would let me do for shelter animals and animals in general: long-distance adoptions, pulling dogs from high kill shelters to foster them, raising awareness, lobbying for better laws, building fences, hauling supplies, disaster relief. What if I'm never the right person for this? What if I'm not organized or skilled enough to do the things I want to do to help animals in need? What if my people skills just suck and I can't network properly or put up with the assholes in the world? What if I'm the asshole for actually bothering to care about animals?
All these concerns buzz through my mind and haunt me. I don't know how to reconcile and balance everything. I don't know how to stay positive with all the negative and the overwhelming nature of animal rescue. I don't know if I can even help in the field and keep from being burned out. I'm not even sure where I'm going, if my dreams are feasible, and it keeps me from living in the moment.
03-24-2017, 10:45 AM
RE: Animal lover in an apathetic world
consistency is the hobdob
of small minds[
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