Say A Prayer For Animals, But DO Something Too.

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For animal lovers, it’s rare a Facebook session doesn’t include one or more pleading stories from death row animals, or shelters desperately trying to find homes for some of the creatures who pass through their doors. For advocates and cross posters, there are so many of these posts that it’s hard to make a soul stand out, and get the best chance.

A particularly sad case passed my news feed recently, in which an old dog was killed in a “shelter” because no one came forward to adopt him. The post had 52 “Likes” and sad face reactions, 11 Shares, and 233 comments. Scrolling through them, I noticed that around 90% were “Sending prayers”, and Facebook’s new filtering system had hidden people pledging money, and transport for anyone able to get the dog out. The pledges more than covered the old boys adoption fees, in time, but they were seen too late.

This is also true in the majority of cases, that the amount of comments on a plea, although well meaning, far outweigh the shares of a post, which do more to help the situation than stating “I hope someone saves this cat”. Sometimes it’s making it harder to.

We have so many animals in need, but we’re sabotaging efforts to save them, by clogging up threads with genuine, but unhelpful comments – burying pledges/home/help offers in a sea of “prayers”. A missed home offer literally means the difference between life and death for these animals.

ACT instead.

If we truly subscribe to a religious life, we also have to understand that no God is there to fix everything. He, or She, is an enabler – putting us in situations we can help. Social media is a platform which can be used by every user to make a difference regardless of your ability to help in any other way, and the simple act of sharing a post could put the animal in front of those who can help them; for all you know, you were meant to see that post, and share it because the person who can help the animal is on your list.

Wishing the animals well is a wonderful thing, but we don’t need to publicly announce we hope they’re saved – no decent person would wish them dead, and whomever it is you’re praying to, isn’t sitting online.

By all means, say a prayer, as you share. But please, for the love of God, it’s time to stop commenting with things that people can’t use to save the poor souls in need. You mean well, but considerate action, can make your wishes achieve something.

If you can offer practical help, say so, but otherwise, think it, feel it, but keep it in your heart, and let relevant information be in the spotlight.

The Cruelty Right Under Our Noses, Because We Don’t Care Anyway.

I hadn’t eaten since lunch time, so when it got to 1am I was feeling the need to go raid the kitchen to see what I could find. I opened the fridge and my eyes settled on a box of newly purchased eggs (I’m vegan, but not the only person living in my house), and even if I wasn’t vegan, I don’t think I could have missed the words: “Eggs from caged hens”

Battery hens.

Birds condemned to live in cramped, dingy cages, with their allocated space being even smaller than a standard sheet of paper. Their entire lives, until they’re spent, and slaughtered as a “thank you” for their service.

No sunlit retirement, no dust baths, no digging in the earth.

No kind words as they slip into the night.

This is the reality for 95 percent of commercial hens, including “cage free”, unless they’re boys, in which case they’re ground up alive; useless to the egg industry.

“Eggs from caged hens” – we know what that means, and when such a truth is blatently printed for all to see, on the box next to the producers logo, the company evidently doesn’t care about the suffering they cause, or the ethics of doing so, for they wouldn’t keep living beings in such conditions.

And my Dad. My Dad, Didn’t care enough to even buy the supposedly kinder “Free Range” eggs, or was too switched off that any eggs would do.

We know that in most cases, “free range” is a feel-good title only, and the environments are still dire for the birds trapped in the system. From a buyers point of view though, free range eggs are a little more expensive, but nothing major – certainly not enough that it would dissuade someone from choosing them because they were too pricy, so you’d think that the average consumer at the very least would buy products which are marketed as “better”.

It’s just easier to pretend not to know.


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A hen fallen through the cracks; literally, stands on mounds of faeces from the rest of the caged captives. – Photo by Animals Australia

If people were to visit factory farms, and “free range” housing, in person, they’d be disgusted if they were decent humans. But when we’re so far removed from the actual production of “food” as we’ve become, there is a mental wall around the brain of most people, which even some intelligent, and caring people allow to be there, by embracing the ignorance is bliss attitude.

Another truth though, is that if we ignore the suffering, it doesn’t in any way absolve us from the responsibility of causing it.

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Many cigarette boxes now have hard hitting images printed on them, to show people the effects of smoking on their lives, and those around them. I think it’s time we printed the victims of those we’re exploiting on every egg box, cheese, meat wrapper, and carton of milk.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if we cannot say we did not know, yet still choose to support cruelty, we have no business calling ourselves kind, compassionate, or caring, because none of those things come with selective conditions.

If your heart is caged, set it free.

Some Humans Are Missing The Empathy Gene.

It has been a busy week here, and I sat down to reply to the touchingly kind, and caring comments people had left on the earlier passing of one of my girl rats, and the stories of their own, when I scrolled by this:

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There was a moment I almost had the knee jerk reaction which would have let this below par person have a negative impact on the way I was feeling, when I snapped to my senses to realize that they aren’t nearly worth it.

Instead, I’m going to use it to demonstrate something I’ve long thought: there are two types of humans. In a nutshell, the fatally flawed ones can be easily spotted by their utter lack of empathy and compassion; my sympathy to those who cross their path.

I believe most people are essentially good, and just trying to get through life as best they can. Tragically, as we do that, we’re influenced by traditions, society, marketing, and the normalzing of our horrific treatment towards others, but if people would open their eyes, and look outside the paradigm, they’d extend their compassion to all beings.

Then there are the people who are missing the empathy gene. These people will never change, regardless of what’s presented to them, and it’s these people who are holding society back.

Different even from those who make “Mmm Bacon” jokes on pictures of suffering pigs, because generally those comments are the result of a defense mechanism when presented with an uncomfortable reality.

This particularly hopeless case decides to create an “Anti Roland” username, comment on a post he didn’t write, on a blog which isn’t his, with a deliberately cruel rhetoric, on something which mattered to me, presumably because Roland is important in my life, and he clearly has said something which challenges a self important world view. Roland and I may not always agree on method, but we always agree on how vital it is we move this world to a place which is protective of all animals, and people.

Now if “particularly hopeless” seems harsh, consider this:

What kind of person would go to the page of someone other than the person they dislike, to respond in such a way, with no other outcome than causing distress?

And even if it was written by Roland, who tries to cause more pain, to anyone who is already experiencing it?

To my dear non-friend Anti-Empathy, there are things which are obvious about you as a person:

  • You have a regressive outlook on life, shown by the lack of consideration for Alice simply because she was a rat.
  • You support animal cruelty in some way. A compassionate, animal-kind person, wouldn’t make such a statement, even if they were angry at someone.
  • You are highly likely to be a sociopath.
  • You don’t like being held accountable for your actions.
  • You are incredibly immature, and would do far better in life, to grow up.

As initially jarring as the comment was to read, I’ve decided to leave it there. Other people can see what you are, alongside your cowardly name.

To all of the genuinely decent humans here, and elsewhere online, and off, who have been truly wonderful, and are going out into the world with eyes and hearts wide open, to make a positive difference for everyone we share this planet with,

Thank You.

Thank You.

The Passing Of A Rat Ambassador

mr.pngI’m sad to write another rat related post, after announcing the arrival of the recent additions (who for the record, are not boys at all!).

For the last two hours, I’ve been trying to stop myself from crying, and form some kind of sense with the feelings I have, and what I want to write.

Tonight, Alice, affectionately known as Miss Rat, passed away in my arms, and I am devastated. And I’m angry.

Yes. Over a rat.

Alice was a special needs rat, who arrived here in November 2015, at just under 4 weeks old, along with her two brothers (who were supposedly girls because they were “all black”…); she was always the small one, but also the brave one.

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It was evident she wasn’t doing as well physically as the others, and as she grew, so did her health problems, among which were respiratory issues, and the nerves in her intestines didn’t work properly. She had a benign tumor in her abdomen caused by a connective tissue disorder, a weakened immune system, and all of her problems were caused by human carelessness.

But no one cared how she would have to live in the world, because she was never intended to live. She was only snake food.

My friend Toni and I walked into a dingy high-rise with boarded up windows, and found ourselves in the home of a man who was in the process of moving, but illegally selling snakes and other reptiles. We also spied a cramped box with a huge tarantula in the corner of the living room, and met a large “bitchy” snake kept in a bare plastic storage box in the kitchen cupboard;who was then paraded around before we got to see the rats.

We’d gone to look at these babies, after a “change of heart”, on a maybe, but there was no way we were leaving without them – I tried for a week to persuade the guy to give or sell me the parent rats, but he wasn’t budging.

After a trip to Toni’s for everyone to recover, and to get a decent look at them, they made it home, and walked right through the bars of the first house they had, on the first night! I ended up with two “nurseries” – Miss Rats was a tiny pink cage, which she kept organized, even as a baby.

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Over the last little while, Miss Rat’s time has been spent mostly sitting with me, or a very occasional wander around the room for a few minutes, and it was obvious she was ageing much faster than her brothers. I had to carry her to the house a few times lately, so while I’m not shocked, I am deeply saddend.

She was an ambassador for creatures much of the world would kill in a heartbeat. She was curious, loving, playful, a home maker, comfort lover, and she brought rat kibble as gifts; rats aren’t at all as many imagine them to be, they’re clean, sociable, entertaining, and highly intelligent.

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She was a sweet, gentle soul, who had heart and personality that far exceeded her tiny size, and her tiny size had no bearing at all on the importance of her life, nor lessens the impact of the loss of her presence.

If people could have met Miss Rat, they’d never do the horrific things we do to her kind.

If there were a heaven for rats, she more than earned her place.

Some Rats Dream, Some Rats Cry.

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I didn’t plan on getting more, but as I’m sure many of you understand, the way this works is often different…. so yesterday, two rats joined my pack to live alongside the previous four, of two girls, and two boys. The new boys, are unwanted, and arrived at my home by taxi, carried carefully by a simultaneously bemused, and slightly terrified driver, and after getting them settled in, they were left to rest for the night.

The photo you see, is how I found them this morning.

I stood quietly by their cage so as not to disturb them, and I was moved by how soundly they were sleeping; their fate in the hands of any human their path would have crossed, but here they are to stay, till they don’t need a home anymore.

I watched these tiny creatures, whose personalities I don’t even know yet, but their presence has been a joy already. And heartbreaking. Highly sociable, intelligent, and demonstrative of empathy, rats are great fun to have around. I’ve known a few over the years, and all have very distinctive characters, and ways of living in the world.

But rats are some of the most abused animals on the planet. Of the resident rats here, three were destined for snake food, and Luna, an adorable young rat, was also another “unwanted”. Tragically, compared to the millions of rats around the globe, their troubles have been mild.

Lost in dreams, these boys made for a beautiful moment, but it was overlaid by images of the hundreds of thousands currently being exposed to horrific, and fruitless experiments in labs. The tiny “feeder” babies, bred only to keep snakes and reptiles alive because people think they’re “cool” to imprison as pets. The rats caught in glue traps, and awaiting agonizing deaths through other vile methods of “pest control”, and the unwanted rats who languish in soulless cages till they die of old age, if they’re lucky; broken spirits ignored by humans who “lost interest”.

Pet rats are considered disposable because people ignorantly believe they’re lacking many of the traits we assign to cats and dogs (though we see far too many people doing the same with them), but they have great memories, are self aware, and they’re highly switched on to the world around them.

Once when I was sick, a rat brought me kibble. They share their excitememt with you, and they greet you with the enthusiasm of any dog, if you earn their friendship. They study you, and weigh you up; infact, just today I had a moment with one of the new boys in which we stood looking at eachother, and he was obviously considering this new being before him. I wish we could talk to animals, but I hoped that by some fortune, he could understand I mean him no harm, and that here is safe. Here is home.

As I walked by their temporary space on our dining room table tonight, both boys were asleep again. I smiled.

There are few things as warming to your soul as watching babies, or animals, sleeping,

But few things as devastating, when you’re aware of the flipside.

Easter: There Is No Lamb Of God.

Passover+LambIn the days mail I spied a colorful Easter egg shaped flyer for one of the big supermarkets. It was cheerful, had foil wrapped eggs pictured on the front, and thinking it creative I “cracked” open the mailing, and perhaps because I was expecting the promise of chocolate offers, the image first to greet me, was as startling as it was.

I read the words next to dismembered corpse: “Butchers selection lamb leg bone in joint”

Lamb leg bone.

Lamb.

Baby lamb.

Spring-born lamb who didn’t get a chance at life. Dead now, for Easter.

A time of year for many to celebrate life, and for those of Christian belief especially, to celebrate the ressurection of Jesus. Many, rejoicing in his coming back to the world, by taking the lives of millions of baby lambs, and other souls. It does not seem compatible with giving thanks.

Because it isn’t.

“The Lord is my shepherd” I ponder the thought.

For those who hold alternative beliefs, let us imagine for a moment, that God exists. What kind of God would we consider to be worthy of worship and adoration? And yes, worthy.

I could believe in a God who was a loving, compassionate, progressive God. A God who took action to save the innocent. Whose retribution was not dished out upon people who looked around at the horrors of the world and questioned his motives, or existence, but who tackled the unquestionable forces of evil on the earth, and the insurmountable cruelty we see.

I cannot imagine that anyone holding the title of God, would design, or will it to be this way. Depending on which God, by the Bible, one of them commanded actual animal sacrifice, because he enjoyed the smell of their burning flesh. Really?

Aside from Easter, the eating of animals is justified because “God gave them to us to eat”. Well, I leave a question to those who believe God to be real, and that he did indeed design animals to be eaten:

Why would any compassionate creator give these souls the ability to feel the same things that humans experience: fear, pain, grief, and absolute terror in the face of what is to happen to them? Why did he design that a beating heart must cease, and the only way to do that for consumption, is through nothing short of torture?

Jesus died for the sins of people who were never born at the time. Animals are dying for the sins of those of us living now, through actions that will never receive atonement, with full knowledge of what the fact that we’re taking lives.

If the words in the Bible as as flexible as we apply their interpretation to other things in life, then surely, we can also interpret them through the lens of morality. Afterall, GodΒ  gave us use of all animals, not just the ones we’re conditioned to think of as a product. People aren’t celebrating Jesus in most places, by eating dogs, or cats.

To be truly enlightened, and to be honorable guardians of “God’s creatures” we need to see that the idea of eating any of them is a paradigm we must shift, because it’s as reprehensible to, as taking the lives of the ones we’d never dream of killing.

We have free will, and we can choose compassion. Whether or not, a “God” did.

14 Ways To Help Animals This Valentines Day (and beyond!).

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Here are some ideas to spread the love around this Valentines Day, and make a positive impact for animals.

πŸ’Ÿ Educate yourself on the impact your personal choices are having on animals. The most important first step you can do in helping to make a change, is removing yourself from being part of the problem. So much suffering is inflicted upon the animals in the meat, poultry, egg, and dairy industries, to produce our “food” – check out some of the great cruelty free alternatives readily available in your local supermarket.

πŸ’Ÿ Watch some of the big films designed to educate on the struggle animals face. Earthlings(available on Netflix), Blackfish, and The Cove are some recommendations.

πŸ’Ÿ Find out of there are any advocacy groups in your area (or start one!) for the issues you’re drawn to, and help out with educating the public, peaceful demonstrations, and raising awareness.

πŸ’Ÿ Have a look through the products you use in your home, and find out if they are #crueltyfree, and see animal friendly alternatives through projects like Choose Cruelty Free

πŸ’Ÿ Write to your favorite brands, asking them if they use animal products, or test on animals (themselves, on their behalf, or ingredients they use), and urge them to find cruelty free options.

πŸ’Ÿ Contact your local representatives, inquiring about their position on animal welfare, and relevant issues, and ask them to take a stance in favor of protecting animals.

πŸ’Ÿ Help raise the profile of organizations like CAARE which is working to support science in finding alternatives to using animals in painful, unproductive, and outdated research practices, and highlighting the imperative for doing so, to both the industry, and members of the public.

πŸ’Ÿ Feed the wild birds in your yards, and gardens, they’ll appreciate the extra – especially coming up to Spring when they’re busy nest building, and looking after babies.

πŸ’Ÿ Go for a walk around your local countryside, or park, and pick up any litter you find. Many members of wildlife populations are killed and injured each year, by rubbish humans leave behind.

πŸ’Ÿ Visit your local shelter to walk a dog or spend time loving one of their smaller (or bigger!) animals.

πŸ’Ÿ Apply to adopt a soul who captures your heart if you’re able.

πŸ’Ÿ Take a donation of food to a sanctuary, rescue center, or the local people feeding the community cats, and dogs, who live outside.

πŸ’Ÿ Donate any furs which are in your possession to projects like Cuddle Coats and Wildlife Rescue League where they’ll help bring comfort to injured, and orphaned animals.

πŸ’Ÿ Spend some quality time with the animals in your life. They have a lot of love to give.

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