If you express the view that we share our planet with the animal world and that they have as much right to it as we do someone will accuse you of sentimentality. But for millennia wise men like Ghandi have sought to challenge the conventional hierarchy that places Mankind at its top.
Animals have always served man. Sometimes the relationship has been mutually beneficial , but often the animal has been a slave not a partner. Or worse. Industrialised livestock farming treats the animals as a commodity in which the cattle or sheep or pigs have no recognised identity.
At the other extreme our pets or “companion animals” do become part of our family, are recognised for their individuality and are looked after as well as the family’s human members.
The paradox of an arbitrary divide between a pet and a wild animal was seen at its most chilling in the case of Geronimo the alpaca. This delightful animal was clearly a loved companion. Four years ago he twice tested positive for TB. The tests are known to be unstable. TB kills within six months, but four years later he was still a fit, lively animal. And yet the bureaucrats of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) killed him.
To be concerned about the destruction of Geronimo is not to be sentimental it’s to bemoan the inflexibility of a Government Department, it’s ministers and its civil servants. And the cruelty where at its heart lies the assumption that we humans have the right to treat animals pretty much how the hell we like.
Animal welfare is something that, as Ghandi said, is a measure of a nation’s decency. Where the lines are drawn is complex and can be hypocritical. I eat meat though if I visited an abattoir I might decide not to. I abhor horse racing, especially National Hunt, but I understand it’s appeal. Trophy hunting and bullfighting are clearly repellent, but they still go on.
At its simplest it comes down to personal choice. Would you help an injured bird if you could ? Most of us would. Would you try and save a drowning dog or cat. Likewise. Do you have a mental hierarchy of the animal world with your pooch at the top and the annoying snails who eat your petunias at the bottom. Hmmm.
The test is “Does it feel right?”. In the case of Geronimo it doesn’t. The law was clearly an ass in this case. Worse nobody who had the power to stop it did so. The greatest abuse of power of all is sometimes to do nothing.