All Creatures Great and Small

My first love taught me compassion. It showed me the power of companionship, of patience, and was a relationship that blossomed in the absence of words. A relationship built on innocence and absolute love. It showed me the depth that silence could hold, the strength that trust could build, and most importantly, it gave me the gift of kindness. My first love did not come up to me in a coffee shop on a sunny day, my first love did not lock eyes with me from the opposite ends of a party, my first love did not bump into me on busy streets as though the stars had aligned, instead, my first love lay at the edge of my bed with a wafting nose, a lolling tongue, and four little paws.

When we bring a life into our home’s we bring with it the promise to love, care, and protect it. We bring with it the responsibility to ensure its well-being. We promise eternal love in sickness and in health, in richness and in poverty, until death do us part. Sadly, in some cases what people often leave at the doorstep is the unconditionality. When we commit to a life, we no longer have the right to impart affection as per convenience, to build a bond as long as it serves a purpose, and to disregard a life. However, as human beings, we cannot resist the forceful implication of our will in the absence of a voice to counter us.

Violence does not limit itself. We know that domestic violence affects people belonging to every strata of society but what about the pets that inhabit those homes? Are they also captive audience to the brunt of human conflict? In certain cases, domestic animals are used as bait, physically tortured, killed, and abused to ensure the silence of the human victim. Used as a means of control, this pattern provides an insight into a much larger structure of gender-based violence with 71% of women in such cases reporting that their animal was also abused.

1 million animals are abused per year in their homes and the perpetrator, through inflicting pain then has the power to mediate the choices of the victim and this plays an imperative role in delayed reporting of such cases. In other conditions, human fear fuels animal cruelty. Whether it’s a pandemic or a war or even a day when a family realises that the small pet they brought home no longer serves as a thing to play with for the child, human neglect finds its way into the lives of the voiceless.

In China, people were waking up to thudding sounds reverberating from the streets as animals, due to the feared virus outbreak were being hurled from multi-story buildings to their death. The roads lay covered in red as the shower of bodies went on for days. Mass exterminations were to be carried out for any animal seen in public while in all other parts of the world streets were populated with the whiff of abandonment. Whether it is kittens being flung across streets in fits of rage or incessant breeding leading to not just genetic deformities but also the reduction of life to a business, who chooses which life is more important? Who chooses which trauma matters more? And who chooses which voice, in which language, should be heard?

Puppy mills or commercial dog breeding facilities are known for deplorable sanitation, cramped conditions, and lack of veterinary assistance function as the hidden arm of the pet-trade industry. From wooden cages to chained areas, the mills breed females at rapid rates causing exhaustion and eventual death all for the fallacy of “superior breeding” and today's pet owners desire to present their animals as a mark of familial repute. While many of us may advocate for animal rights how many are actually willing to give up the fancy cosmetics, the luxury brands, and even the chocolates that we consume, all of which have been created at the cost of another life or its habitat.

Animals are not dumb, most are known to have high IQ’s and almost all animals reflect strong EQ’s with their owners. Pigs have empathy and high emotionality, cats are capable of rational thinking and decision making. Mice can solve puzzles and have the memory of a computer, therefore this brilliant trait makes them most vulnerable to cruel testing methods. Rabbits are social creatures and get depressed, they feel all of the horror that they are subjected to. Dogs experience emotional stress, can understand simple math, and make eye contact to bond. Cows, the most abused animals on the planet are great mothers, socially interactive and, feel immense separation anxiety and fear. Animals are not dumb.

TITLE CREDIT - James Herriot (Author and Veterinarian)