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Columns : The Pet Pages - Kim Aranha Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

On being an Animal Advocate
By Kim Aranha
Sep 25, 2007 - 8:50:10 PM

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Seemingly not everybody gets it!


To me it is very simple and straight forward. From the day you are born, your parents, and elders teach you to be kind to animals, all animals, no matter how small. You grow up respecting God’s creatures and loving them for their position in life. God created them for a reason. Some to provide a balance to nature, as food for each other in that huge food chain that we are all taught about at school; and others, at least now days, to be a loving and caring companion to their comrade - the human.


No matter what role the animal plays, it deserves to be treated humanely and with respect. If you go fishing or hunting and you are killing for food, not something I enjoy doing, but many perfectly nice people do enjoy doing, the animal should be killed quickly and as painlessly as possible. It should not be allowed to flap about in bleeding agony until death finally comes. My sons go spear-fishing, and I always tell them, kill it the moment it gets on board, don’t let it lie there and suffer.


So many people do not understand that animals feel pain too. Not all animals can cry out in pain, many suffer in silence. Look into their eyes, they feel pain alright! I remember once when I was working as a volunteer with an animal refuge telling a man not to pick up his puppy by one leg swinging it around. “It doesn’t matter” he told me “he don’t feel no pain”. You know what; he honestly believed what he was saying and was amazed, and surprisingly receptive, when I explained to him how very wrong he was.


Because people are so thoughtless and sometimes so carelessly cruel, we need the animal advocate and the animal activist to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Don’t be fooled by the expression “dumb animals.” That ONLY refers to the fact that animals cannot speak in a manner that we humans can understand. Dumb does NOT refer to their intellect. It is questionable as to just how many animals can communicate between each other. I sit and watch our pets. The dogs definitely have a way to communicate with each other, come on; they know how to communicate with us, if we are paying attention! My birds spend endless hours “talking” to each other, the turtles appear to communicate too, and that is just in this household.  Many other animals quite definitely interact and communicate with each other as well. But alas, they cannot “talk” to the human, so many misguided and foolish (yes, I said it) humans believe that animals do not feel or suffer in ways similar to us.


Being an animal advocate or activist can make you extremely unpopular in certain circles. Being an animal activist or advocate can bring derision and huge quantities of criticism too. When I was a girl my Aunt would often say “the road to hell is paved by good intentions!” Sometimes, that is why, when coming out in support / defense of animals, especially if you cross certain “political” lines, step on any important toes or ruffle any influential feathers, you must be prepared to face the consequences, and to stand up to them.


If you choose to become the voice of animals, you must not worry about your popularity level. There are moments when you will be extremely unpopular with certain groups. Rise above it and do what you know is the correct thing to do.


Over the years I have fought many battles, some harder than others, many won, and sadly, some lost. Though you must choose your battles, some just have to be fought, if nothing else in order to draw people’s attention to the issue. Presently, I am most unpopular with a certain sports editor of a leading Nassau newspaper because I questioned the content of his article two weeks ago about Michael Vick. He was so enraged and offended that he compared me to Leona Helmsley! I don’t know if I should be flattered or offended, but I am most certainly amused! What ever reply I got from the editor, I was able to get people to sit up and see the folly of his article. His sarcastic reply, made people re-examine the content again, and hopefully, some good came of it. I have made an enemy of the sports editor, but I can still sleep at night.


We need more people in this country to speak out and defend the injustice done to animals, and you don’t always have to roar or fight. A great deal of the “fight” can be done with kindness, by teaching small children how to pat a dog instead of throwing a rock. Many adults are amazed when they find out how nice animals can be when given half a chance.


I need to point out that there are many people already out there, fighting the fight, visiting schools, teaching kindness.  They are all animal advocates who I salute and recognize with pleasure.


There are big fights to be fought all over the world. Atrocious animal cruelty takes place in every corner of our globe. Petitions are being circulated daily to help protect and save the whales, stop the dog meat trade in the Philippines, stop dog fighting, stop bear baiting, stop bull fighting, stop cock fighting, stop ritual voodoo sacrifice killings, stop the butchering of the silver back gorilla, stop the poaching of the elephants, stop the illegal (and inhumane) export and transport of exotic birds (90% die before they reach their destination), and I could go on for many pages, but I think you get the idea now.


In the Bahamas we have children who do dreadful and cruel things to animals just for fun. They think the pain and suffering is funny, and they laugh at the agony of the animal. What does that tell us about those children, and what kind of adult will they grow up to be? We need to help these kids see that they are committing atrocious acts and help turn them around.  This will take education and patience, but it can be done if there are enough animal advocates and activists out there willing to stick their necks out.


We need to take a very strong stand against dog fighting and cock fighting, and report anything we know. We need to refuse to deal with people that we know to be involved. Every day, inch by inch we can make a difference.


In many ways, just by writing this article, I feel that I am actually preaching to the converted. The fact that you are reading this column probably means that you are an animal advocate and are totally “on board”. Perhaps you can forward this article to somebody you know who is less enlightened, or pass it on to some group or class to read. To those of you already fighting for the animals, I say don’t give up. You are doing noble work.  Let’s put our heads and hearts together, and make a difference that only hundreds can make, all pulling together for a common goal.  There is no room for personality clashes here, we all want one thing: that animals be treated humanely, with dignity, and that it always be remembered that they are God’s creatures too!

About the author: Kim Aranha grew up in the Berry Islands with her first dog, a beloved potcake named “Friendly” (who was anything but!).  First educated at home, and then in boarding school in Switzerland, Kim moved to Rome, Italy in 1974 to pursue a career in the dramatic arts and ended up working as an interpreter.  She moved back to The Bahamas in 1980, and now lives in Nassau with her husband Paul, and their two teenaged sons.  Kim has 3 dogs (soon to be 4), 5 fish (1 Beta, 4 Goldfish), 10 turtles (6 babies, 4 adolescents), 1 Asian box turtle and 4 Budgerigars. Her idea of relaxing is being home to take care of all her pets. Kim is a member of the board of the Bahamas Humane Society. Kim can be contacted at kimbva@coralwave.com


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