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SOMEONE VS SOMETHING (to use and abuse)

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Emy Will

Emy Will

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa. Although I have a doctorate in psychotherapy, my main passion is advocating for nonhuman animal rights. I condemn all cruelty to nonhuman animals and therefore follow a vegan lifestyle. I would like to connect with other animal activists from all over the world. The fur trade is one of the most abhorrent practices on this planet. Innocent animals are subjected to prolonged suffering for a trivial fashion item. As the chairperson of Fur Free SA. we campaign towards ending the global fur industry. This might not happen in my lifetime, but even if I leave one footprint behind, that is one step closer to the goal. This blog is a forum to discuss all aspects of the fur industry. It also raises issues around animal activism in general. Johannesburg is a crazy city and I need to escape from time to time. This photo was taken next to the magnificent Zambezi river.

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Understanding the relationship between humans and other living beings has evoked many heated debates.                                                  animals

~Many people now believe that species other than Homo sapiens have sentience. According to Dr Marc Bekoff,  author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, there is indisputable evidence of non-human animal sentience. Very simply, sentience is the ability to feel, perceive and have the capacity for ‘conscious life’. In his article, From Human Rights to Sentient Rights (March 2014), Alasdair Cochrane argues that all sentient beings have subjective experiences and a stake in their own lives.

~Those of us who hold that every creature is sentient, want them all to have rights and accordingly be protected by law. We believe the exploitation of non-human animals is immoral and humans have evolved to the point where they do not need other animals in any way.

~Certain Vegan activists would not even condone having pets, as this “pet ownership” would be considered domination over another being. However, in my household I am not sure who dominates who, particularly when I manoeuvre my way around the dominated cats on my bed 😀 .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

~Another view, often  justified by religion, is that animals are put on this planet solely for the use of humans. These people would not deliberately harm animals. Perhaps they would even fight for animal welfare to ensure that animals are treated kindly before being killed.

~Then there are those individuals who just don’t care, as long as they can find the cheapest way to make profits from the exploitation of non-human animals. Factory farming for meat, dairy, eggs and fur are examples of this. People who demand these products are as culpable. This category of people would have no issue with using non-human animals for entertainment.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   not ours

~Vivisection occurs when people torture non-human animals in the name of science. Seemingly these scientists can disconnect from the pain they inflict onto living creatures. They lack compassion and justify their actions by stating that animals are not sentient. They are rewarded  for this immoral behaviour through money or prizes. 

So where is sentience written into law? In 2009 on December 1st, member countries of the European Union endorsed the Treaty of Lisbon, which grants legal status to animals by virtue of sentience. Implementation of these rights is not easy, as people find devious ways to circumvent the law. Take the fur industry for example, fur comes to European auction houses from non EU countries where there are poor or no animal protection laws. These are the same auction houses from where South Africa imports its fur. In South African law, non-human animals are not considered sentient, which is a major obstacle in the fight for animal rights. Animals are  legally defined as objects and therefore have no rights. They are seen as the absolute property of their human owners who may use them as a means to an end.                                                                                                                                                                      ss3   

In May 2013 two groundbreaking seminars were held in South Africa. The title of these seminars is self-explanatory ~ANIMALS AND THE LAW – Does the law afford sufficient protection to animals?

So how are non-human animals protected in South Africa?
Up until 1962, when the Animal Protection Act was passed, animal rights did not feature.
Advocate Paul Hoffman, a delegate at the conference, argues that this act primarily  protects the feelings of people who are distressed by cruelty towards  other animals. He adds that the value system that informs the Animal Protection Act 1962 is outdated.
Professor David Bilchitz, another speaker, pointed out that subsequent to the Animal Protection Act 1962 the moral and scientific understanding of non-human animals has changed. Today it is acknowledged that all animals suffer and deserve protection in their own right. Bilchitz stresses that “statutory reform must enshrine and reflect our revised understanding of the sentience of animals”. Protection of non-human animals must not just focus on the absence of pain and suffering but also on a positive state of well-being.
Philip Lymbery CEO of compassion in World Farming concurs when he states that the law must catch up with values
animals deserve proection
There seems to be agreement that there is a moral obligation towards protecting the weak and vulnerable, which includes animals. Non-human animals make a special moral claim upon humans because they are morally innocent, unable to give or withhold their consent, vocalise their needs and are susceptible  to human exploitation.  
It was decided at these seminars that the way forward is for a group of academics and researchers to make recommendations to the Department of Agriculture on its Animal Care Policy document. The aim would be to modify and collapse all animal protection acts into one that ensures the well-being of all sentient beings.
However, I believe that in the meantime individuals can and must play their part in whatever way they can. Every small action adds up to change!
In the words of Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little”.  (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/e/edmund_burke.html#7HiHQfVWc3D48bUH.99)                                                           someone

Source of information for this post: http://issuu.com/ciwfsa/docs/animal-voice-july-2013/3?e=4995170/3832934%5B/embed%5D%5B/embed%5D                                                                                                      CASJ

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6 Comments

  1. We knew animals were sentient when we were children, it took grownups to put such nonsense out of our childish little brains, and science to put it back in.

    I have pets, and they rule the roost, literally. I know some would prefer the term companions, not pets, but then that just a matter of semantics. Oh and yes, my pets are quite happy being pets. Hell, I wish I was somebody’s pet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emy Will says:

      Hi Peter,
      Yes it is remarkable how there is a communication between children and animals.
      Semantics drive me crazy 😉
      This was a debate on Lee Hall’s blog a while back. I am quoting Lee @ http://veganplace.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/speaking-of-pets/

      “Many vegans—showing discomfort with what Emy noted as the domination, involving the animals’ reliance on an agreeable human for acceptance and lifetime care—prefer to call the animals in their homes companions. But companion means partner, one with whom one shares bread. The bond of companionship is by mutual agreement, not by selective breeding for the purpose. So, like man’s best friend, the term companion is a euphemism.

      It’s frank, not disrespectful, to say cats and dogs are animals bred as pets. Those we know, we call by name.”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Lee Hall says:

    I read a terrible story today from Denver about a ‘failed surrender’ of an unwanted dog. The dog jumped out from the so-called shelter running after the owner’s truck. Not only did the driver not stop to reclaim the dog; the truck actually ran over the poor discarded soul! A striking story, but a sample out of many, alas. Some of us here (well, we are advocates) do love and look after our dogs and cats and rabbits. But what of the millions every year who didn’t get the luck of the draw to live with Emy, Lee, Peter, or a similarly responsible and able human?

    Here’s an excerpt from a chapter on pets in a book I authored a few years back, titled ON THEIR OWN TERMS: BRINGING ANIMAL-RIGHTS ADVOCACY DOWN TO EARTH. I hope it adds value to this discussion. (Emy, you knew I’d have to jump in!)

    People may say their pets run the house and exert power in various
    ways. Their true power, however, is thwarted by hard realities. These animals do not get to choose their mates. Pet animals have no say, ever, regarding the others with whom they’ll spend their days, and where, or what happens if circumstances in the home change and someone finds their presence troublesome, in which case their time could suddenly be up. The pets who would rebel and seriously threaten their owners or the owners’ children are generally eliminated. Some dogs are played with and walked proudly as babies, then pushed outside the back door and left there, like old tools. Some pet animals never really become pets; that is, they don’t live in homes at all. A few are used for breeding or kept as blood donors for their more fortunate counterparts, and a good many are used in research.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emy Will says:

      What a tragic story. What a tragic indictment of the human race.

      Everything you say is true, Lee, and it breaks my heart 😥
      Of course I know that I have the power to abandon my pets; to hit, to neglect and to end their lives when they become an inconvenience.

      I have chosen to nurture them for as long as they are with me. This is not the case with everyone,

      Every time I go to a sanctuary for unwanted non-human animals I am filled with despair at human-kind . It is hard to accept one’s limitations.
      Thank you for the input.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lee-Anne says:

    You raise a crucial point in your post Emy that many fail to appreciate – that animals/birds don’t simply exist for human use and gratification. If only we all understood this a lot of cruelty would be avoided. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Emy Will says:

      Thank you so much Lee-Anne ❤
      Many of us grew up thinking it was fine to ride elephants, have wild animals in circuses, birds in cages and so on.
      Slowly people are realizing that this is cruel but there is still such a huge struggle ahead.
      All the best.
      Emy

      Liked by 2 people

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