August 15, 2008

(In)Humane Society? Dogs (should) have rights, too.

Coming from a different country, and after traveling a lot, it is quite striking to arrive to America—this beautiful land of opportunity and freedom—and see not one dog in the streets, not one dog running free and a few dog parks where they all gather as part of City regulations (my dad was laughing and could not believe we have parks so dogs can run free).

Not to mention that if you walk with your dog naturally like you would in any other part of the world (without a leash), some people look at you like you are a menace to society.

America has a deep-rooted love for Institutions. So, of course, the humane societies that work to save dogs exist and they have many conditions for anyone to be able to take a doggy home. You have to cut their balls or cut their female reproductive system so they don’t reproduce—an unavoidable condition. As one of their ambassadors explained to me once, the dog species have an overpopulation problem (like we humans do, but nobody can cage us and cut off our reproductive qualities without our own consent…yet); also, she explained, their uncontrolled mating ends up in the spreading of venereal diseases (like we humans as well, and we are still doing it) not to forget, she continued, with the real fact that there are so many cars in the streets and they could end up rolled over by one (like we humans do all the time).

The people running these animal institutions have great love for their love for dogs (but so, perhaps, are husbands who hit their wives…sorry, but somebody has to say it). They dedicate their lives to change what they think is wrong with them and to create a life for them that is far from what their nature was intended for. Probably I would not think anything of it, if I didn’t receive an endless series of e-mails asking for my help to support the Institutions that hold all these dogs in them, with space problems to fit them, health situations and lack of volunteers.

I have a dog. Two dogs, actually. One came with me all the way from Los Cabos Mexico. I had the opportunity to observe how shocking the change of dynamic was for my dog, she got depressed not being able to be the dog she is, running after other animals and enjoying nature at its own pace. Dogs, like other species, were created to survive natural conditions, they will find food and they will find shelter. They will make friends, they will develop healhty lifestyles or illnesses according to their circumstances…like us humans.

I spent at least 6 months trying to find a place for rent where I could have my dog living with me. It happens that my dog is 75 pounds and most of the condominiums’ Home Owners Associations would not allow big dogs, or certain types of dogs, due to their lack of preparation to deal with them and ignorance about how to relate safely with a big dog. So after months of searching I ended up with the last alternative of giving it away to a dog association (which I didn’t go for). Dogs are not allowed in the street, they don’t fit in these humane societies so if they don’t find a home they are killed, and most of apartments for rent don’t allow dogs because they don’t want to be scratched or damaged. So you have to either be rich, lucky or willing to go into massive debt and have a home with a yard, or there is no way on earth you can/should have a dog! So how can you help all those dogs that are in trouble in these humane societies?

This is my proposal: dogs should be treated with respect like any other being. Their rights to be themselves should not be violated like we do. They are a species like we are. Instead of caging them, cutting them, and killing them (like in a concentration camp) to accomodate our monopoly of the Earth, what about releasing them and letting them die of natural causes (wether it is illnesses or accidents, or homelessness or hunger, or all of the challenges all species including us face) and welcome them in our communities with more awareness for their safety; maybe letting them pay rent in all homes and deal with expenses of their existence as family (like when the kids write on the wall or drop their drink in the carpet); the best gift is education…for the dogs, and mainly for us: we should write and distribute a manual teaching us how to co-habitate and live with other animal species peacefully and safely, the Earth was created for all. Tip number one: when dogs meet on a leash and are pulled away from others (some people think we avoid a fight by doing this), their instict is to feel their owner’s energy of fear and react with agressive behaviour as protectors they are. Dogs need contact like us, to be loved and to feel safe. Let them smell their butts and chase each other a little bit, that is dog language to say: Who are you? Then, I love you, we are friends 🙂

And of course, by changing some rules and letting them be dogs and deal with the world as it is (like many other species do, and like many other countries accept) all these association problems would stop existing…and my inbox might even be free of desperate calls for help.

If you don’t agree with me, you are probably in favor of the regulation to have cats on a leash. What a concept…is it just me?

love, yeye

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