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All creatures great and small

September 22, 2013

I was tweeting, as one does, some photographs of a litter of tiny puppies recently, in the hope that some kind soul with enough self-esteem to not require a pedigreed dog to cement their social status may consider taking one home.

Their mother had been run over and they were whining little furballs barely a month old, and living in what was essentially a deathtrap next to a busy main road. A stray dog is of course not just ‘as good’ as a pedigreed one, but hardier, better suited to the environment, not as delicate as pedigreed animals and also less likely to have a coat more suited to a life in, say, the Swiss Alps.

It seems to me the duty of all decent people to take in stray dogs, not just for the lifetime of love and joy they guarantee but also to make up for their barbaric countrymen to whom casual cruelty to animals is something of a pastime.

Suggesting that people take a dog in off the streets didn’t seem the world’s most controversial suggestion till the responses began flooding in. “What about people?” various Pakistanis sputtered at me, “How can you think about dogs when there are people in need?” Quite easily, if you must know, what with there being little connection. I’m not sure when in Pakistan the belief was established that caring for an animal is tantamount to finding a child and throwing it into a vat of boiling oil. I’ve attempted to find homes for dogs with varying degrees of success and as far as I know this hasn’t had an adverse effect on Pakistan’s human population.

The truth of the matter is that a society that is kinder to animals will simply be kinder all round. Conversely, a society where the welfare of animals is perceived not just as a luxury but an actual source of outrage is the one where this impulse for cruelty will spill over to humans and most adversely affect them too.

People who torture animals are in many cases simply working their way up to inflicting pain on other people. See that child trying to cut off a dog’s ears? That’s the one I nominate as being most likely to beat his wife senseless as he grows older. If you lack empathy for living creatures, well then you just lack empathy, and I have little faith in you not lacking it for people less powerful than yourself. It’s also worth noting that of the many people who’ve sanctimoniously told me off for thinking about dogs when people are dying are, without a single exception, doing nothing about people dying other than tweeting about it.

People who actually work for the welfare of humanity know better, and realise that suffering is merely suffering, regardless of what it’s inflicted on and that if one is to have any hope of living in a gentler, sympathetic environment, it must involve a more ethical relationship between man and beast. Otherwise there’s really no difference between the two, except for the fact that a dog is more loyal by nature and also less likely to torture a human being just for kicks while concurrently attempting to retain the moral high ground.