An almost daily report in Latin America: "Animal abuse does not stop and this time it was a pitiful case when a puppy was found hacked with a machete on his snout. What caused the injuries are unknown; however, they were so severe that a piece of his snout came loose and fell off entirely."
Have we become a pack of savages as we dismember our turtles, break off the peaks of toucans, poison our cats, and hack our dogs’ snouts? Or could it be the other way around, since never in history we have loved our animals more than we do now?
In most Latin American countries, concern for the environment has been consolidated. Organizations are struggling to rescue all abandoned animals, turtles, parrots, and many other unknown animals. If you visit our cities, you will see a veterinary facility and a pet shop on every corner. At this point, Lupita, our chihuahua, receives birth control treatments as efficient as those of two-legged animals. She can choose turkey or light pork pâté. We have pills for bad breath, depression, and for controlling Lulu's gases, our Pekingese dog. Hotels are beginning to acknowledge that Lucrecia, our cat, sleeps with us. And if we travel abroad, Lupe, our parrot, is allowed to accompany us.
So why so much animal abuse, why so much human abuse around the world?
Just when animals become pets, they become part of our family and our emotional stability. One talks to Enrico the rabbit, and Mario the goldfish. If Hortensia, the Vietnamese pig looks depressed, we run to give her a dose of Prozac. Never before have we lamented, accompanied, cherished, and worshiped these animals with such devotion. Many of us prefer them to humans, and with good reason: there’s no cyber-bullying in their worlds (Walt Whitman wrote about how he preferred to live with animals, as he saw them as self-contained, and never whining about their conditions).
Being part of our family and emotional stability, animals (like our partners and children) are becoming victims of domestic violence. We depend on them emotionally so deeply, and then we end up killing them, as we vent and kick and destroy them around without any consequences. These are the ugly killing fields on which we live. A writer once said to have some fear, some courage, and a strong rage to end the inhumanity around us.
Our countries have passed laws against domestic violence, while not all have legislation against animal abuse. It is an actual crime to attack our human partners at this point, so our pets become the scapegoats instead. Being afraid of our human partners calling the the police, the aggressors thrust themselves and their rage and hostility on their animals. Each piece of legislation that punishes the domestic aggressor and protects humans ultimately gives pets less rights, makes them weaker. Our nuts feel that it is safer to beat the pet and it’s hard to stand up to a knife in the hands of a lunatic, who may be as internally distraught as the animals he violates.
However, there is another reason for so much violence against our four-legged friends. If we interpret violence as a symptom, what is the message it sends about attacking a weak animal? That the perpetrator is so dehumanized and without control, it’s an obvious fact.
The reason is that the animal is a symbol of our caring and love. They depend on us, as we do on them for more unconditional love than most of us will ever know. Maybe we’re all so lost, roaming aimlessly, that we see nothing left to share, as this uncontained rage ravages what was once so precious – and society strips us of our basic humanity to feel anything – while we all become savages and victims.
Today we live alone, thinking of someone to call at night to hear a voice, humor, a bit of caring – but without trust or social justice, what is there? Our politicians never cease to surprise us with a secret account in Switzerland, with a daughter in a government job, with a mother-in-law in an Embassy or with a cousin winning a hefty contract.
With every corruption scandal, with every government promise ignored - a cat will be hungry in a box, a dog will end up without a snout or its life, and the parrot will be in a dark basement, whimpering in fear. We should all whimper in these conditions, and let’s think about the 100,000 people who starve to death each day on this Earth – while we do nothing to stand up to all the atrocities, and see our beaten animals and our fellow humans around the world with no food, no place to live, no one to hug.