This morning, my attention was drawn to the event illustrated in the advert above. It sounds like a lot of fun and a brilliant way of supporting a very worthy cause. It’s typical of fundraisers held in aid of dog rescue charities and not for profits all over North America and probably the world. I come across dozens per year and I’ve even been a guest at a couple where my books have been offered as auction prizes.
This particular rescue group is an award winning charity, known locally for their good works. If you research them and visit their website, the first thing you will see is the following statement:
“Here at Paws It Forward we are driven by a single goal: to do our part in making the world a better place for all animals.”
Awesome! It’s a sentiment I share and endorse 100%.
So I was surprised to note that their ‘Wine for K9’s’ event boasts an oyster bar and the advert I saw featured the picture below.
Can you spot the cognitive dissonance?
Doesn't the statement "a better place for all animals" mean all beings?
Are sea creatures excluded from “all”.
Or is it just molluscs that don’t matter and don't deserve a "better place"?
Now don't get me wrong. I’m not intending to diss Paws It Forward in any way whatsoever. I’m quite sure they’re a superb group and I totally applaud what they do. Wine for K9’s is a very worthwhile occasion.
Yet whilst it offers animal products to those who attend, it is a wasted opportunity to make a point that desperately needs to be made. Animal suffering of any kind is wrong. And unfortunately, this event is actually (albeit unintentionally) promoting it...
I wonder if the organisers realise that when oysters have their shells ripped open prior to shucking, they are still alive? Perhaps they are reassured that the bar is being provided by a business that proclaims their use of “fresh, sustainable and local produce”. But how is a life sustainable after it is lost?
I get that sea creatures are the hardest things for us to empathise with. They live in a totally different physical medium from us and they have little about them that we can easily relate to. As such, they (perhaps) elicit the least sympathy of any of the creatures we share the planet with. But don’t they still have the right to be alive?
The good people who put on events like this one and those who attend will presumably want to help a good cause that they believe in. They likely care deeply about dogs and have the best of intentions for them.
Yet while those who are at the frontline of supporting animal welfare (irrespective of what type of being they care for) exhibit blatant speciesism in their actions, they are indirectly serving to legitimise the notion that it’s OK to be concerned about one sort of being and not another. It creates a care hierarchy and perpetuates the idea that some creatures are more worthy than others; a philosophy that inevitably, implicitly, validates theriocide, along with its vast and unspeakable cruelties.
Pets elicit our sympathy, but relatively speaking, they are still the lucky ones. It is not just dogs and cats that suffer at human hands. It’s virtually all of those creatures we share the planet with.
Therefore, shouldn’t any animal welfare organisation that truly wants to make an impact upon the world be congruent with its message, if only to avoid hypocrisy? Isn’t it beholden upon all those who claim to be animal lovers to ensure that in all of their actions, they walk their talk?
If Paws It Forward and the countless other rescues who will run similar fundraisers this year truly believed in “making the world a better place for all animals”, maybe they could integrate that philosophy into their activities so as to help educate the world at large that a "better place" involves NO lives being lost.
Those who are involved in animal welfare work may usually be observed as being ardent supporters of their preferred faunae. Thus it is a great shame if they fail to perceive the irony of placing such a high value upon the life of one vulnerable species, whilst being willingly complicit in the terror undergone by so many other helpless beings. What message does that send to those who have not yet begun to embrace a no-harm lifestyle?
Surely it becomes obvious that only when doctrines of compassion are genuinely extended to be as broad as Paws It Forward proclaim their purpose to be, will the world truly start to move towards being a better place for all animals?
NB. Comparatively speaking, Kelowna is replete with opportunities for vegan catering that does no harm, opens the mind and the taste experience and leaves the diner healthily satiated and enriched through the lack of cruelty their meal required.