THE fact that more than £1.3m has been raised for Manchester Dogs Home after a devastating fire is a touching illustration of the profound goodness of the British people.
What the dogs went through – whether they survived or not – was horrendous, and the outpouring of grief and pity for them that was channelled into donations not just of money but also of dog food, toys and blankets, was remarkable. Within just 48 hours of the tragedy, the first £1.2million had been pledged. So many well-wishers tried to drive to the home to donate that it caused gridlock on the M6. Staff were forced to plead with people to leave items at a motorway service station. It was an magnificent reaction by a big-hearted, decent public.
But it won’t bring the dogs back.
Meanwhile, other living, breathing, feeling animals are suffering prolonged pain and distress, day in, day out, month in, month out, at the hands of humans.
Their capacity for feeling pain, terror and distress is just as great as the dogs caught up in the Manchester fire.
They are chickens and hens – beaks cut off – kept in barren barns and cages, in cruel factory farming systems;
They are pigs and cattle, kept in filthy, cruel conditions; kicked, punched, stamped on and burnt with cigarettes in slaughterhouses;
They are rabbits kept in unnatural, tiny, dingy cages, left in agony when their fur is ripped from them;
They are cats, beagles, goats, guinea pigs and mice poisoned with chemicals, or forced to undergo tests that cause vomiting, seizures, tumours, self-mutilation and death; injected with acid or given electric shocks;
They are monkeys wrenched from their mothers’ arms, injected with drugs and surgically implanted with posts in their heads;
They are whales and dolphins slashed to death without anaesthetic, as though they were nothing more than sheets of plastic;
They are ducks and geese force-fed to make their livers swell, confined to the most restrictive of cages.
But they are hidden from view.
If the big-hearted public were aware of the torture to which these animals are subjected, if they saw the pictures – as they did of the dogs’ home – their compassion would lead to demands for an end to these shocking practices.
The difference between the Manchester fire and the suffering of animals in factory farms and cages is one of systematisation: humans have set up practices that mean animals suffer constantly and unjustifiably – and reforming or ending those systems is a mammoth task. These animals don’t deserve to suffer more than dogs just because they are not dogs.
There are some excellent, honourable organisations working hard to reduce the suffering, to bring more compassion into the world, and they can only dream of a £1.3 million windfall.
It’s fantastic that a new, better dog shelter can be built in Manchester. But it’s too late to save the dogs that died. So when people are moved to donate after such tragedies, they should ask themselves whether – when everyone is doing the same – their money is going to relieve the most pain. A sum of £1.3 million could make massive differences to efforts to end the suffering, in the long term, of highly sensitive animals that are still here, right now, alive, breathing and feeling pain or distress, day in, day out. Because for many of these animals, death would be a release.
If only the big-hearted people knew.
See http://www.ciwf.org.uk/ http://www.animalaid.org.uk/h/n/AA/HOME/ http://www.navs.org.uk/home/ http://www.ad-international.org/adi_home/ http://www.seashepherd.org/ among others for more information or to donate.