As many of you probably know, our shared anger over the abuse of animals has boiled over at public events such as the recent hearing in Calgary, Canada where a protester was arrested. While we all understand the rage (and share it!) the CEO of Pet-Abuse.com, a leading animal advocacy group is appealing for calm and rational actions.
Thanks to Jim Willis for forwarding me this message and thanks to Alison Gianotto for writing it!
An open letter to animal advocates
Dear animal advocates,
There are few in society that can understand your frustration, your pain, your horror at the terrible cruelty and grave injustices carried out every day more than I can. I know how it feels to be hurting so much and to be so angry at the senseless violence that your whole body shakes when you think about what happened. The tears flow, the fists clench, and the anger boils up inside you until you feel as if you’ll burst. I admire and respect you for taking the time to try to change things by attending court hearings, writing letters, calling local media, and all of the other things you do to try and transform that agony into action.
But I must ask you to consider the big picture here – and if you are unable to conduct yourselves with dignity and grace, I must ask that you reconsider speaking out. Every time an animal advocate becomes belligerent and loses control, it only serves to further the stereotype that animal advocates are all lunatics.
A perfect example is the recent case in Didsbury, Canada. While I was thrilled to see so many people attend Monday’s court hearing, my heart sank when I saw the behavior of some of the attendees there.
Every time you pick up a pen to write a letter, every time you pick up the phone to make a phone call, and every time you attend a court hearing, you are not only a representative of yourself, you are a representative of every animal advocate and the work they do. Your conduct directly impacts how seriously we as a group are taken by other members of society. The members of our communities who disregard animal cruelty are constantly attempting to paint animal advocates as uneducated, maniacal fringe-dwellers and we must not give them ammunition to do so.
We are doctors, we are lawyers, we are teachers and students, mothers and fathers – but the moment we lose control, we lose the battle. Shouting, making threats, becoming abusive – all that does is reinforce the concepts that we are nothing more than lunatic extremists. Believe it or not, animal control officers, humane law enforcement, and prosecuting attorneys who are up against a tough judge want you in their courtroom. They want you to show your support for their cases and encourage strong and swift justice – but only if you are able to remain calm. Your presence alone, quiet and respectful, accomplishes what we are attempting to accomplish and sends the message that justice must be served.
I understand how angry you are – I promise you I do. But you must remain calm, you must remain respectful and you must use every ounce of restraint you can muster, even when staring down demons. Or you must stay home.
Alison L. Gianotto