World Animal Day began at a 1931 convention of ecologists in Italy. It’s celebrated October 4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals and environment). Today churches worldwide still give blessings to animals on this day. Rescue organizations and animal welfare groups also arrange events on this day to highlight issues in a fun and family-oriented way.
This September 25 (the F1 weekend) SPCA is holding its event at the East Coast Park, a carnival including agility competitions, a meeting of animal welfare groups, stage games, and just a day out for you and your pooch. This year, the SPCA wants to “make a stand against animal neglect. Causing intentional harm to an animal is abuse but neglect is not any less severe.” The SPCA saw a staggering 15% increase in animal cruelty cases (987 as of June 2011).
Today Dimples, the abused and neglected beagle in a 2009 case, was featured in Yahoo Singapore news. Shown by pictures taken by the informant, Dimples’ snout and front legs were taped to prevent him from moving and barking, left outside on the owner’s balcony. The owner was only fined. A mere slap on the wrist.
The SPCA believes most of these neglect and abuse cases can be chalked up to ignorance. Perhaps most people don’t realize that dogs have feelings. I guess if they “stored” their dogs on the balcony, with minimal to no interaction, there is no way these people would ever realize the truth of what a dog is. If anyone spent even a minute looking into the eyes of a dog, they would have no doubt.
It may be ignorance but there is more. I question how some people think. Even logically if you don’t have time, don’t get a dog. I also believe a well-balanced person, no matter the level of education or economic background, will not intentionally be cruel in thought, action, and speech to others, especially those under their care. If people had ways to constructively vent their frustrations or unhappiness (eg through nature walks, communication, even punching a cushion), we would see a decline in animal cruelty cases.
Along with awareness campaigns, I think we need support for the communities, to allow people to evaluate their values and beliefs. We need to teach our kids to be strong and be true to themselves, not to be pushed by mob mentality, peer pressure, or conventional concepts of machoism and masculinity. It doesn’t show strength of character or bravery to hurt another being, especially one more vulnerable. Strength and courage is the ability to do the right thing, when no one else dares to. I think it’s time that we dig deep and find the hero who lives inside each of us.