I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by an amazing tribe who shares my deep passion for animals, advocates for their rights 24/7, and rightfully embraces their pets as true-blue family. It's easy to talk about the innumerable ways a pet's love makes us whole and brings joy to our lives. But when it comes to addressing the flip side - animal cruelty - we trip over our emotions. And many times we fall. It hurts our hearts and shakes us to our core, so we often just cringe and scroll past the disturbing stories and images on social media, or avert our eyes from the evening news. I've done it too. But we can't continue to toss a blanket over the ugliness and walk away - monsters like this just don't back down. And real changes can only occur when we stop passing the buck off to "everyone else". We ARE the everyone else.
The Dalai Lama's quote, "...if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them" is a well grounded ideology, but it's also not a far stretch from encouraging a cop-out. Every one of us is capable of taking up arms in this battle in our own way, and it can't be won until many more of us do. Until we learn to burst out of our comfort zones. Until we validate animals' sentience. Until we prioritize their welfare. Until we understand that the Golden Rule's "Do unto others..." encompasses ALL living things - not just mankind. Until our vigilance starts uprooting the offenders’ cowardly subculture from the shadows. Until we cast that security blanket aside and channel the fury at what we see into positive, law-changing action. And, until humanity realizes that the guardianship we are so undeservingly granted over all creatures - great and small - is nothing short of a HIGH HONOR. It's not an entitlement, an ego boost, a power trip, or an excuse to abuse. Our efforts don't need to be Herculean - but I can't help but think that if each one of us utilized our talents and gave just a small percentage more, maybe we could reclaim a little bit of paradise on earth.
We humans - you, me, and animal lovers worldwide - are their only hope in the prevention of cruelty. And as their defenders, we have to step up our game in support of our animals - the purest of beings, the guardians of homes and hearts, the greatest mystic healers, and the most loyal friends we'll ever know. There is no better "THANK YOU" for all they give to us. Because as long as there are people in this world who continue to hurt animals, simply "not hurting them" will never be enough.
P.S. Some red flags to look for and report: Dogs chained outside for extended periods of time. Pets left in extreme weather conditions with little/no access to food, water or shelter. Sores on the body. Missing fur patches. Strikingly thin, or obese. Heavily bred. Limping or staggering. Tick/flea infestations. Dog fighting tip-offs. Suspicious interactions between owner and pet - or something that just seems a bit "off". Rely on your intuitive powers...they are stronger than you know.
This is what neglect and abuse at the hands of humans looks like. Zoey's broken body is a living testament to the depths to which humanity can sink, but her spirit reflects the mercy and resiliency of a dog's heart.