Sunday, December 27, 2015


Another year ends in a few short days.  For many of us, as the New Year begins, it signifies the hope of a better tomorrow and provides us with a fresh opportunity to change and, perhaps, make a difference.  If animals could vocalize, I truly believe they would say that they also hope their tomorrows are better.  Regrettably, they do not have the ability to improve their lives without our assistance or our voice. 

In 2002, Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff published a book called “The Ten Trusts: What We Must Do to Care for the Animals We Love”.  In it, they listed what we can do to help preserve and care for the animals in this world. 

The simple directives are, “Rejoice that we are part of the animal kingdom.  Respect all life.  Open our minds to animals and learn from them.  Teach our children to respect and love nature.  Be wise stewards of life on earth.  Value and help preserve the sounds of nature.  Refrain from harming life in order to learn from it.  Have the courage of our convictions.  Praise and help those who work for animals and the natural world.  Act knowing we are not alone and live with hope.”  Even if you never make a New Year’s resolution, it cannot hurt any of us to try to make the world a better place for us, and the animals with which we share it.

Whether we like to admit it or not, as humans we do not stand apart from the animal kingdom.  There are many similarities humans and animals share, both biologically and emotionally.  When we fail to understand the mutually beneficial relationships between us, we can lose not only our compassion, but also the joy experienced from the associations between us. 

We should respect all life.  Life has value and every animal deserves to be free from intentional harm and abuse.  It has been established that cruelty to animals eventually leads to cruelty to humans.  Then, could the reverse also be true?  If we show more compassion and empathy towards the animals we have contact with, perhaps the way we treat our fellow-man will also become more compassionate and empathetic.

We can open our minds and learn.  The more we know, the better equipped we will be to help the animals and those around us.  Not only do we become better pet guardians, but we also become valuable advocates for all animals.  You do not need to attend a class to become informed.  Reading a book, watching a documentary or following news-worthy animal-related topics also increases knowledge.

Let us value and try to preserve what we love in nature.  As part of us caring for animals, we must also respect the environments in which they live.  Can you imagine a world without an animal in it?  It is truly a frightening prospect.  You, I, and our children may never experience that scenario but, unless all of us are diligent now, the possibility can exist for future generations.  If we are to insure a more positive future, then we must tread lightly in the existing environments.  Let us all become more eco-friendly and conscious of harmful actions in the natural world.

Have the courage to be a voice for change.  Our actions can make a difference.  Yes, you as an individual can speak up for those who do not have a voice.  We have already seen how public pressure has been responsible for many changes in animal welfare.  If you witness cruelty and neglect, inform the authorities.  Spread awareness about animal-related issues through social media, letters to the editor or your own blog.  If a specific area of focus interests you, like feral cats, find a local organization who supports it and get involved.

It is easy to feel any singular effort is futile.  To believe that one person in a world of billions can do anything to change the status quo may seem ridiculous.  Yet, each individual holds a vital key to the future welfare of animals.  Every positive action taken, no matter how small, or seemingly insignificant, does join with another and then another, until constructive change occurs.  All I ask this New Year is that you join us in trying to make the world a better place for us, and the animals with which we share it.  We will all benefit.


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