ARRF! From the ban on the sale of animal fur to the ban of wild animals in circuses, I love seeing phenomenal victories for animals in various parts of the world, especially in my hometown California! Earlier this year, California became the first state in the U.S. to ban the sale of non-rescue animals at pet stores as an effort to fight against evil puppy mills. WOOF-HOO! However, the reality is that we are still far from an animal-friendly world. As animal cruelty is still found all over the globe (even in the most progressive nations), we must recognize that a lot of work needs to be done. As children are, indeed, our future, we should teach them compassion for animals for more future groundbreaking changes. Here are 10 things to teach your children about dogs, cats, and other animals:
#1 Animals are NOT toys or accessories
Please do all animals a favor by teaching your children to respect animals. Animals are NOT “toys” period. Every single animal is a unique individual with his or her personality, character, and temperament. They should never be treated or handled like a toy no matter how “cute” they look. They are not a “thing,” but are living, breathing creatures with a soul. ARF, I may look super cute with my teddy bear cut, but GRRR I’m an alpha male with my wants and needs. Hence, I must be treated with gentle care and utmost respect as you would with any loved one.
#2 Animals are NOT “replaceable”
We should never teach children that animals are “replaceable.” Dead or lost animals cannot be replaced! Again, every single animal is a unique individual; once they’re gone, they’re gone – just like a human being. They are not a “thing” that was assembled in a warehouse or factory. Domesticated animals or pets should never be abandoned because something is “wrong” with them or perhaps you “change your mind.” Every year, many parents irresponsibly “purchase” or adopt animals as presents or gifts to their children. However, as soon as the children become “tired” of the animal, the parents attempt to pass them onto another family or return them completely.
#3 Treat animals with COMPASSION
Despite the size of the animal, they must be treated with care and COMPASSION. Regardless of how “innocent” a child’s act appears, parents should never teach or tolerate animal abuse in any form. For instance, I always see children chasing after birds and throwing rocks at them while their parents sit back and watch. At times, the parents even chuckle at their children’s cruel act. Sadly, tolerance only paves the way for more abuse.
#4 Animals FEEL emotions just like humans
It’s true – animals experience pain, fear, sadness, and happiness like humans. It’s ignorant to deny the fact that animals share the ability to suffer with humans. While animals are a different species than humans, they are more than capable of feeling emotions. They also develop friendships with one another and feel sadness when separated from their loved ones.
#5 Wild animals should NEVER be “pets” or held in captivity
WOOOF! The difference between a dog and a wolf is purely domestication; although dogs descended from wolves, dogs have been domesticated by humans for THOUSANDS of years. The livelihood of dogs is directly dependent on humans (even strays or ferals depend on human scraps to survive). Wolves, on the other hand, are wild animals that should be left untamed as they can survive on their own.
Sure, it sounds cool to have a “pet tiger,” “pet monkey,” or “pet parrot,” and so on, but wild animals should never be pets or held in captivity. It’s cruel to deny wildlife of their natural habitat no matter how badly you want an exotic animal as a household “pet.” Wild animals captured for human amusement or profit OR bred in captivity undoubtedly live miserable lives as they are forced to live in an unnatural, fictitious world created by humans, which commonly involves being chained up outdoors, imprisoned in cages, or limited to inadequate enclosures.
Wild animals are physically and emotionally abused by humans who seek to “tame” or “train” them. Here are only a few notable examples: 1) Humans practice the barbaric “phajaan” to train and tame elephants. “Phajaan” breaks the elephants’ spirit through physical and mental torture so they become submissive to humans. As elephants NEVER forget, they are forced into submission through fear. 2) Humans clip the wings of wild birds (captured from the wild or bred in captivity) so that their “pet birds” are unable to do what they were born to do – FLY in the air. After their wings are clipped, these birds live miserable lives as prisoners on their perches or in cages. 3) Humans drug and chain tigers to profit from up-close and personal encounters that rake in money. These wild cats are also consistently abused by trainers so they will “behave” around tourists who want their “tiger selfie” taken. 4) Humans capture and breed dolphins for profit to create tourist attractions like “dolphin shows” or “swim with the dolphins.” These smart captive mammals are forced to swim in tiny pools and learn stupid tricks for food – all for human entertainment. Civet-poop coffee, dancing bears, captive owls in “owl cafes,” hedgehog cafes, snake charmers, dressed up monkeys, and the list of cruelty GOES ON.
It’s normal to witness captive animals exhibit signs of stress and depression. Even though zoos and aquariums claim to promote education and conservation efforts for wildlife, please understand that most animals held in captivity are not endangered. Not to mention, there’s no way to fully replicate a wild animal’s natural habitat. Therefore, what we only end up learning about the animal is how he or she behaves in captivity.
#6 Animals oftentimes just want to be LEFT ALONE
The sad reality is that I have suffered abuse in the hands of many children in the past. It’s imperative to understand that some, if not most, animals want to be left alone. Do owls, tigers, hedgehogs, and monkeys, etc. REALLY want to be “petted” or pestered by humans (whether young or old)? Even a domesticated animal like myself, I don’t like to be bothered, especially by obnoxious children. When I’m with my humans, I show affection on my terms and don’t like being carried around for a long period. They have learned to respect my personal space and wishes. Although I may have a cute teddy bear face that many children find adorable, I am NOT good with children. I hate it when kids have grabbed me like a stuffed animal or forcibly yanked me during walks. Again, I am an individual with feelings! Parents, please be extremely mindful of any animal you introduce to your children. Just because they look fluffy and cute doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to be “played” with.
#7 Animals WILL DEFEND themselves (when feel threatened)
One of the most common reasons for families to give up their domesticated dog or cat is due to “aggression” or “behavioral issues.” While I understand why aggressive behavior shouldn’t be accepted (on either side), I urge you to investigate or think about why an animal behaves a certain way. I’ve experienced stupid childish pranks, teasing, and tormenting that may seem “innocent” to most parents, but are truly torturous to me. For instance, I’ve been chased around, poked, slapped on the head, and teased with food by kids. Pranks on animals are acts of animal abuse period. Yet the moment dogs or cats defend themselves and fight back (when enough is finally enough), they are perceived as the “aggressive” ones who physically injured a human. Consequently, they face punishment, abandonment at the shelter, OR worse, euthanasia. Something to think about, humans…
Both domesticated and wild animals are conditioned to behave a certain way for self-protection and/or based on previous experiences with humans.
#8 “Pets” should enjoy some freedom
If you have a pet dog or cat at home, please give him or her as much freedom as safely as possible. To be clear, I’m not advocating for dogs to run loose outside as they may face potential danger; however, I advocate more freedom for dogs (e.g. allowing them to lead from time to time, play and walk safely off-leash at dog parks and enclosed areas), humane potty training methods over “crate training,” and of course, the end of the cruel practice of tethering.
For cats, please allow them to freely roam around the house and have opportunities to safely explore the outside world. Let cats enjoy being cats! Please NEVER declaw a cat to stop them from their natural behavior of scratching. It’s cruel and unnecessary. For humans, it would mean cutting off every single finger at the LAST knuckle. Imagine how debilitating that would be. 🙁
Bottom line – No “pet” should be locked up regularly in a cage like a prisoner. They should be able to roam freely (and safely) inside like they’re part of the family.
#9 Animal abuse is WRONG
Please teach your children that any type of animal abuse (including “innocent” pranks or teasing) is undoubtedly wrong. As parents, you should NEVER tolerate any acts of animal abuse or cruelty.
#10 Always adopt, NEVER Shop
If you decide to add a new member to your family, please adopt (don’t shop)! I beg you! Millions of domesticated animals are euthanized at shelters every year world-wide so please SAVE A LIFE instead of supporting businesses that profit from breeding innocent animals. Rescuing also makes room for other desperate animals in need of shelter space. Purchasing a puppy inevitably supports the evil practice of generating profit from breeding animals. The conditions at puppy mills are never pleasant as animals are disturbingly mass-produced for MONEY. Even if you buy from a “reputable” breeder or breed on your own, you are contributing to inbreeding (that can cause genetic health issues for the animal), overcrowded shelters, and of course, the stray problem. Why support breeding when you can save a life? Whether you buy or rescue, there is no guarantee of a dog’s health. Plus rescues ROCK! #adoptdontshop
Parents, the future of animals is in your hands! Let’s continue to spread the word to help animals and teach children that animals DESERVE better. As change is incremental, we can all do our part to make this world a better place for animals.
Wanna find out how you can help animals while traveling? Put your furry paw HERE!
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob
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