Friday, April 15, 2011

Dogs and cats and children, oh my

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a pup named Patrick.  Patrick continues to thrive and is gaining weight steadily. He is doing well, and his fans are doing some pretty amazing things in his name.

Shortly after Patrick's story became known, this article came out.  My take: it's a cheap shot and fails to use basic logic.

People who care deeply about animals (and their rights, or lack thereof) are often portrayed as being a few bricks shy of a load.  This may be because some of them are. The writer of the article essentially makes the case that people who are concerned about animal rights do not care about children.  Gah!

I think I first became fully aware of child abuse when the Lisa Steinberg case hit the news (I was in high school at the time). She was adopted illegally, apparently knew nothing but abuse during her few short years on the planet, and then died after a fatal blow to the head. To this day, I am still haunted by the image that was all over the news at the time. It was a photograph of Lisa at school.  In it, she is sitting at her desk, not smiling, her hair appearing dirty and unkempt. She is holding a piece of candy corn in her little hands. Lisa was just six years old when she died.  My daughter will be six in just a couple of weeks.

In more recent years, I recall the case of Bruce Jackson (and his brothers). He was 19 and weighed as much as a first grader after his mother starved him for a dozen years or so. These two cases happen to involve adoptive parents, but of course there are countless examples of child abuse in biological families, too. I don't think anyone will forget Susan Smith any time soon.

Indeed, you don't have to wear Google out to find examples of child abuse. They are rampant and heartbreaking. However, I am under no obligation to prove that I care about children. It's kind of a given, don't you think?  What kind of psychopath would suggest that the abuse of a human being (of any age, really) is not an issue worth caring about?

I love my dogs and my cat dearly. I love my foster dogs, too. I talk to my furry companions. I hug them. I say things like, "Who's a good boy? You're a good boy!" I buy them cute collars. I spend time with them.  I do not, however, confuse them with children.  I am aware that my companions have some degree of devotion towards me, but I also know they are primarily concerned about their next meal and how soon I can get it to them. They are treated well and I adore them, but they are not children. 

What it boils down to is that animals, like children, are defenseless. There are, at least, laws on the books to protect human children. Joel Steinberg didn't serve nearly as much time in prison as he should have, but he did serve 16 years. Susan Smith is still in prison.

On the other hand, you can pour gasoline on a dog and set him ablaze in broad daylight, and you'll maybe get a small fine. You may be arrested, but you'll walk out of jail the same day. Slowly but surely, laws to protect animals are getting a bit stronger, but they are still insufficient. As long as a living, breathing creature has no more rights than the garbage bag in which Patrick was discarded, "crazies" like me will push for something better.

3 comments:

Mary said...

AMEN. That was written so well and hits every point!! I also read "this article" and obviously that guy has NO clue!! I have been accused of caring WAY to much about animals and where do children come in, what about them, don't you care about them?!?!? YES, REALLY I DO!! This is usually from people who don't know me well, because if they did they would also see how much I care about children and not just look at one act or what I am speaking about at the time. I also get the difference between children and dogs, while some people know I really love my dogs I really do get the difference!! I got a little teary eyed when I read what you wrote about your foster pups: "Who's a good boy? You're a good boy!" Those are the words you told me (although it was girl instead of boy!) when I asked you how you got Elsie to wag her nubber.;) Such a sweet angel she was....;) Bless your heart for all the love and care you have given these wonderful creatures!! I think I might need to share this one again, it's excellent!

Steph K said...

I love you.

Anonymous said...

Very well written...thank you.