Be Kind To Every Kind
Companionship, love, caring, happiness and health, each of these words is associated with pets, and that’s how they make us feel. There is no denying that pets are a huge part of our lives, and we are for them. They love and care for us and yes, we too care for them. So, you might think what point we are trying to make. Well, let’s start with a question, do you think that our definition of love and care is completely ethical and in the benefit of animals? If you think yes, let’s start again. Imagine visiting a pet store to buy accessories for your companion, what else do you see? A tub full of baby rats, squeaking in their plastic containers, or goldfishes sold in bags; this is what made us question the idea of pet ownership. Many researches has shown that rats have a sense of empathy and when we take the babies away from the mother rat, they do experience profound distress. “Pet shops and breeders are notorious for cramped enclosures, filth, malnutrition, exposure, disease, separating very young animals from mothers, using females as breeding machines, and dogs and cats who suffer as a result of a lack of socialisation and veterinary care,” says Radhika Suryavanshi, Campaigns Coordinator, PETA India. All these aspects are like a slap on the face and make us think how can we do this to animals?
From animals that become dog and cat food, and the puppy farms churning out increasingly unhealthy pure-bred canines, to crickets sold by the box, pet ownership can become a questionable issue because it can hinder animal freedom. For instance, when we decide to bring these creatures into our lives, it might sound nice, but at the same time, we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their sex organs. Another pressing issue that we are facing in today’s world is the craze of adoption of wild animals. While it may be fascinating to see videos of people sharing their homes with wild animals, it is not wise to keep them. By wild, we don’t mean ferocious lion or cheetah. The Indian exotic pets’ industry comprises of every species that are listed as endangered and is marked under the board of “banned pets”. Just in case, if you think owning a parrot or a tortoise is harmless, keeping them as pets is not just unethical but also illegal, and might grant you a trip to jail. “Wild animals, like birds, fish, turtles and so on, belong in nature and have no business being in anyone’s home. They were born to fly or swim vast distances, or live as nature intended for them. But in homes, such animals face cramped cages or other tiny enclosures, loneliness, inadequate food or water, neglect and other cruelties. It is illegal to capture birds protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species restricts the trade of foreign birds, yet they are often sold,” says Radhika. She further added, “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 also makes it illegal to keep or confine any animal in any cage or other receptacles which do not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement. A reasonable opportunity for a bird is flying, while the same for movement for a fish is swimming far greater distances than what a tank can provide.” We are going to make things simple for you, just ask yourself, how would you feel if you have to spend your entire life in a cage, with no area to explore, no contact to the outer environment? We will leave this for you to think.
Humans are a superior race and meant to traverse the horizons of the world. But, at the same time, we also have to understand the fine line of balance between the co-existence with the other species. “We must keep pets. Pets like dogs, cats can be great companions in a household and they bring immense joy and happiness to the people who have them. They help us release stress when we live a high strung life with tensions from,” says S.Vinod Kumaar, GM(Admin), Blue Cross of India. The thing is to understand the boundaries of pet care. First of all, any animal that fall under the board of exotics, should never be deemed as pets. Second, you must be very clear of the fact, that when you decide to become a pet-parent, you need to know that you are adopting a life, and it should never be on the basis of “if” and “might”. “Even those who are voluntarily seeking to keep a dog must ask first themselves if they have what it takes to relate well to a dog, and to reciprocate the dog’s love and devotion”, says Phiroze B Javeri, Indian National Kennel Club. They further add, “One need not be rich, or have a big house, to justify having a dog. But keeping a dog does entail responsibility towards the dog through his entire life of 10 to 15 years. Every person or family that keeps a dog is not necessarily capable of providing a good home to the dog.”
However, it is crucial to adopt pets, no matter dogs or cats, rather than buying them. For instance, let’s take the example of dogs. “Many a time people buy foreign pedigree dogs, paying huge amounts of money and after the initial euphoria of having such a dog fades and one faces the responsibility it entails to maintain such dogs, they end up abandoning them cruelly on the streets. It is one of the cruellest things a man can do to their pet. They are not equipped to survive in the streets and do not know how to navigate the traffic,” says S.Vinod. It is time for us to understand that these little fellas also have emotions and they feel every sentiment that we humans do. It is time that we ensure that every dogs, cat or any other animals get a good home, where no more unwanted puppies and kittens are born only to end up at the already overflowing shelters or on the street. So, should we have pets? Of course. Pets are creatures with whom we share our world, and rejoice in their companionship. You don’t have to anthropomorphise to recognise that the feelings are returned. If we are wise enough, we can see the lesson they teach about humanity, empathy and loyalty. Their eyes hold the spark of life, the same as ours. Let us be close and cherish each other always.