Saturday, January 26, 2008

callous Dallas

Here's a story that's distressing/depressing on a number of different levels...

After complaints, Dallas shelter ensures humane handling of dogs

So while San Antonio is on a two-year mission to become a no-kill city, its more "cultured" and well-known neighbor to the north has taken this approach to animal services. Not exactly progressive or compassionate, to say the least. But then those aren't qualities widely respected in our fair burg. I'd say it's also a decent representation of the priorities of our city leaders. As a whole, they're completely consumed with all things shiny and new...anything they feel will bolster our appearance of cosmopolitan culture. Any initiative to address the well-being, health, happiness and financial interests of average constituents - let alone a bunch of fucking animals, for crying out loud - isn't even an afterthought. It's simply not a consideration to begin with.

Where do we even begin addressing this city's shallow indifference in general? Its policies toward taking care of the less fortunate...humans and non-human animals alike...?

My sister has worked for the Dallas Zoo for most of her adult life. I respect what she does and I respect much of the work that zoos in general perform. I do think they perform a valuable service as a whole. I've always thought of zoos as being much more than just entertainment facilities, at least to those who visit in search of more than entertainment. They provide education, important research in terms of study and behavior, and in some cases they can be essential in the fight to preserve species.

Having said all that, though, I must also admit to having a few misgivings about zoos and the function they sometimes find themselves serving to the general public. There was a picture on the last page of the November issue of The Sun that not only crystallized my misgivings, but just frankly broke my heart. The image was taken by an absolute genius of photography by the name of John Rosenthal. I hope he doesn't mind my sharing it here...

Speaking (yet again) about the greatness of The Sun, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite "sunbeams" from the tail end of that same November issue. For those of you who know me, you know the last thing I ever attempt to do is convert anyone to anything...and I'm not doing that here. I just enjoy the following comments not only because they speak to me and some of my sentiments, but also simply because I think they're worth consideration. For all of us.

It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars, and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons. - Douglas Adams

There's a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals, in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side. Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to consider the miserable life of the pig - an animal easily as intelligent as a dog - that becomes the Christmas ham. - Michael Pollan

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men. - Alice Walker

Humans - who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals - have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and "animals" is essential if we are to bend them to our will, wear them, eat them - without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. - Carl Sagan (one of my all-time heroes)

And my favorite - a comment that concisely expresses my general outlook on daily living...for better and worse...

Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight. - Albert Schweitzer

Yes, please...think. Consider. At least occasionally.

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