Dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, and even wild animals like lions, bears, elephants … and every existing living animal in the world are not very different from you and I. They all have the right to live without fear of being hunted, tortured or abused.
In our own homes, there is a reason that so many of us animal lovers treat our pets in the same way we treat our children, and why many of us consider them part of our family. Like children, dogs and cats need our protection, period. They are fully dependent on us for food, good health and safety.
My hope for our world is that we, collectively as a society realize that animals need our protection and that we work together to ensure that animals are treated with care, become vigilant about animal abuse in any shape or form, and punish those who harm animals in any way.
Nobel Peace Prize winner archbishop Desmond Tutu released a statement on animal welfare which was part of a foreword for the Global Guide to Animal Protection. In it, he wrote:
There are other issues of justice–not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked.
I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.
We have many battles to face in our stand for animal welfare but it is wonderful to see world leaders finally calling attention to the care and protection of innocent animals. It is an issue that all of us should address. We can each do something to make the life of an animal better.
Here are 10 ways to help improve the lives of animals:
Report Animal Abuse
Reporting animal cruelty is vital because animals cannot help themselves; it is our duty to step in. Witnessing an act of animal cruelty or seeing an animal that has obviously been abused or neglected is gut-wrenching. You want to help that animal now, but you may also feel paralyzed, not knowing exactly what to do at the given moment.
Don’t Hunt Or Support Hunting
I don't know what's worse than killing beautiful animals for sport. Hunting is a heartless act in which a person puts their preference for shooting a live animal for fun over the life of an innocent being. It is senseless and gutless. Only cowards kill defenseless animals. Do not support hunting in any capacity.
Join animal organizations to help pass humane laws to help improve the lives of animals. Get vocal on Twitter and Facebook, join online groups, and attend meetings in your area. When speaking with family and friends, let them know ways they can helps animals or at the very least not hurt them.
Don’t Buy Fur Or Leather
It's one very small step that keeps animals alive. There is no reason why any of us have to wear leather or fur when there are perfectly good materials out there that don't hurt of kill animals. Wearing a dead animal is no status symbol.
Only Buy Beauty Products That Do Not Test On Animals
Hurting animals for the sake of a beauty product is sick. While it can be difficult to zone in on companies that do not test on animals, more and more make-up and beauty manufacturers are committing to a no animal testing policy. My favorite? E.L.F Cosmetics. The products are good, very affordable (even more so than your drugstore make-up) and offer assurance that none of their products ever harmed any animals. That a double score in my book.
Support Animal Welfare Agencies
There are so many agencies that do outstanding work to help animals and they all need our support. By donating just the cost of a few cups of coffee per month, you can help fund food, medical care, and basic necessities for many animals.
Teach A Child To Love Animals
Most pet lovers fondly remember growing up knowing the love of an animal. Children learn so much from having pets. They also learn how to treat animals from their parents and family. When you teach a child that animals are beautiful beings that need our protection, you not only change the life of a child, but also of every animal that child encounters over a lifetime.
Dogs and cats are not the only animals that are abused. Farm animals are some of the most neglected and exploited animals in the world. If you have any doubt, visit any slaughterhouse and see for yourself. By making the decision to not eat meat, you are saving animal lives. Some estimate that by just not eating meat for one year, you can spare up to 414 animals.
Of course, not everyone wants to be a full vegetarian but surely we can pick a day (or two or three) during the week to eat meatless. By cutting down on meat consumption, you can still help save animal lives while also improving your health. Another compromise is to give up red meat and just consume poultry and fish.
Shelters need people to help, plain and simple. Most are publicly funded and just do not have the manpower needed to handle the large volume of animals they take in. You can walk dogs, clean cages, and help would be adopters. Every little bit helps when it comes to helping get homeless animals into permanent homes.
Adopt From A Shelter
One thing that needs to change in our world is the sale of animals from pet stores. Most dogs come from puppy mills and every time we patronize a store that sells puppies (even if we only buy food or pet accessories), we help fund puppy mills where mothers and puppies are bred and often kept in filthy and devastating conditions. There are countless dogs and cats up for adoption at shelters in every state in our country.